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Meet Yeen Weaver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yeen Weaver.

Yeen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2010, I left Malaysia where I was born and raised and came to California to earn my MFA in 3D Modeling. Upon graduation, I followed the predictable path in life and worked as a 3D modeler at regular brick and mortar companies, working on projects as diverse as games, advertising and product visualizations. But my husband and I had a dream of sailing around the world on our 32-foot ketch “Monsoon”, a dream we have had since the day we met. For several years, we lived on our boat to save on rent while I commuted to work on the weekdays and on the weekends prepared our boat and ourselves for the big undertaking of independent cruising. I knew that with the amount of moving we would be doing, I had to have an online career.

At the same time, I felt that I could be achieving more in life in terms of creativity. My job as a 3D modeler paid well, but I felt like I was being shuffled over into management duties as I rose in rank, and that my artistic skills were playing a smaller and smaller role. I had always wanted to work as an illustrator, but had always been warned by well-meaning folk that I would never be able to earn a decent wage, even as they acknowledged my potential. When my request to work remotely at my last company was refused, I decided that I had nothing to lose if I tried to start my career as a freelance illustrator. Nowadays, I work using a combination of freelancing websites, commissions thru my website, and selling my work online, in between sailing the blue oceans and watching dolphins play off my bow.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Working as a freelancer definitely lacks the security that salaried work enjoys. Your flow of work is not constant; sometimes there are floods and sometimes there are droughts. You constantly have to advocate for your professional reputation. Living nomadically, often in remote locations, I do not have the opportunity to promote myself in person, thru means such as networking at industry conventions or galleries. My online presence then is very important for my work, even as I regret our modern society’s addiction to social media and the disappearance of personal connections.

The general public’s acceptance of online work has been lukewarm, despite technology making it easier by the day, and the rise of the ‘digital nomad’ society. I hope that after all the social distancing necessitated by the Coronavirus pandemic, people will realize how convenient and logical online work is. I enjoy receiving clients from all around the world, and not having to sit in rush hour traffic everyday.

Along the way, I had my son Rowan, who is now three years old. It has been great spending all day every day with him and showing him the world from the deck of our boat. I would not exchange this privilege for anything in the world, but what people don’t tell you is how hard it is to be a working stay at home parent. Between Rowan, the boat, and my career, there are a lot of demands on my time, and many moments of feeling inadequate at fulfilling my responsibilities toward any one of them.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a web-based freelance illustrator who specializes in ink and watercolor, best known for nature-themed illustrations. I have created content for a variety of applications, such as packaging, infographics and corporate identity. To me, self-actualization is about finding what you are good at and using your skills for the common good. So what I am most proud about is setting forth an identity of environmental consciousness in each of my projects, and I have been lucky to partner with clients that hold the same philosophy as I do. When you undertake a project with me, you are guaranteed an illustration with an outstanding depth of research, great attention to detail, and heaps of personal motivation.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
As a freelance illustrator, I am always open to representation by an illustration agent. I believe that my unconventional experience living as a world traveler gives me a unique point of view not found in other artists, and that adds to the depth and quality of my work.

In the meantime, my interest in environmental conservation leads me to strive for stronger activism in my work, so I am planning to partner with non- profits to work on their awareness campaigns. In Mexico, where I currently am sailing, I have been blown away by how environmentally responsible the public is, despite the country not being as rich as the United States. To Mexicans, the environment is a natural resource that needs to be saved for future generations while they start gearing themselves towards sustainable industries such as ecotourism. That is where I hope to see capitalism head toward in the future, where business can be run in benefit of nature instead of in its exploitation.

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