Rita Goulão

This week are excitedly crossing the pond to chat with Rita Goulão, an Art Director, Graphic Designer, Illustrator and DJ from Porto, Portugal, who is currently based in Barcelona. Rita is fond of giving brands an image, illustrating good ideas, communicating with graphics and lettering everything from work to everyday post-its. 

We are lucky to have her as a member of our Creative Lady Directory and grateful for her fresh perspective. Thanks for sharing Rita! 

Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance art director, graphic designer, and illustrator.

Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to do something art related. I used to copy typefaces and letterings from magazines, I’d ask my mom to pick animals or objects for me to draw and I’d do my own cd covers, posters, and secret club membership cards. My dad was also a graphic designer so that also influenced me, although I always felt like I wanted to pick my own career and not follow his footsteps. Guess I couldn’t avoid it.
I studied Communication Design in college (Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto) and in the first year I was absolutely sure that was what I wanted to do. I almost immediately started to work as a freelancer. I was already uploading illustrations and personal projects to a few online platforms (DeviantArt even before college, then Fotolog, Myspace and others) and also started doing some pro-bono for friends. Later I started charging for my work, got new clients and the rest is history…I just kept going and haven’t stopped since!

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

Like I mentioned before, by publishing personal work online and doing lots of pro-bono at first. I don’t remember ever being unoccupied. If I wasn’t doing college work, I was doing illustrations just for the fun of it or working for Monster Jinx, an independent music label formed by friends. All the album covers, posters, and t-shirts I did for them (hundreds! haha) really helped me to get out there and start getting real clients.
Also, the personal illustration work I was doing started to get me invitations for zines, for collective exhibitions in galleries… and people started buying my things. It feels good when you start making money out of what you love to do.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

A few, although I sometimes fail at accomplishing some myself!
First, routines! Waking up at the same time every day and getting ready as if you’re going out to work helps to get in the working mood.
Freelancing at home can be tough sometimes, specially because it might get a little lonely. If it’s working for you, great! (I’m trying to make it work at this time) If you’re struggling, co-working is a great option - you always have people around, the environment encourages you to work (you don’t want people passing by seeing you procrastinate by watching internet kitties) and depending on the place, you might have the luck of having other creatives there with whom you can collaborate.
Make to do lists with everything you have to do in order of importance - it empties out your mind and tasks are not as overwhelming when you can look at them anytime. Also, try to cut down on every possible procrastinating source! Keep away from instagram, facebook, blogs and whatever else.
Music (preferably with no lyrics) while doing more intellectual tasks and podcasts while doing more manual/automatic work really help me focus too.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?

I’d say managing clients and projects. I try to plan my work schedule as well as I can but I’m still struggling with it. Some projects end up taking more time than initially planned, which delay other projects, payments, and keep me from accepting more work sometimes.
Putting a price on what I do is always really difficult for me too… Am I undercharging, overcharging? It would be amazing to have some sort of a manager so I could worry more about keeping the creative juices flowing and less about keeping the business on point. Also, it can get kind of lonely. I’m used to working by myself but I often wonder how nice it would be to have someone to discuss ideas with.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

Being the one in charge of the final product. It’s great to do what you believe in, own your ideas and creative concepts and have no one above you to abort the mission before it’s even launched. Having schedule flexibility is great too, as well as being able to do so much different work.

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

I try to accept work I identify with and keep doing what I love to. If commercial projects aren’t going exactly where I like (let’s face it, everyone does something they’re not 100% proud of) I try to compensate with personal ones whenever I have the time. And of course, uploading it on my website, behance and other platforms like instagram. You have to be out there to be found.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

"You have to be out there to be found."


Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

What do you do to stay creatively inspired?

I try to keep away from the computer and absorb things outside the working space. This might not always happen during the week, but I always try to do different things on the weekends. Traveling is always a huge creative boost and so is changing the work environment as well (perks of being a freelancer). When I have some sort of creative block I also try to change the tools/techniques I’m using and get away from my comfort zone.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

"When I have some sort of creative block I also try to change the tools/techniques I’m using and get away from my comfort zone."


Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

You are also a DJ and a radio show host. How does your passion for music impact your design work?

I think it’s an ongoing inspiration. I listen to a lot of music while working and all the different moods and genres can definitely influence the outcome of certain projects. Sometimes I’m designing and involuntarily discovering tunes for Mineralogy, my radioshow. And the fact that I’m somehow in midst of the music world (although I’m not a musician or producer of any sorts) helps me get music related clients. It’s great to work alongside artists and interpret their music visually.

Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?

Always use a precise contract. Protect yourself from late payments, work ownership, timings and define, from the start, exactly what is to be expected from you.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

Try to log out at the end of the day and weekends. Nowadays, I only work nights and weekends when I have a really tight deadline, but I’m making an effort to have the time off most 9 to 5’ers have. You need it to stay sane and be with your people.


The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

Hard work, resilience and a good dose of chill pills.
Rita Goulao | Freelance Wisdom

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Brittany Holloway-Brown

Brittany Holloway-Brown is an illustrator & designer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently a Storytelling Designer at Vox Media, but enjoys freelance work as a side hustle. Brittany's past clients include Urban Outfitters, MARVEL Comics, Amazon, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed and others.

We're loving her loose and powerful illustrative style and really appreciating her insight on creativity. Thank you so much for sharing Brittany!

 

Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

It sounds cliche to say but I posted my work online often, to Instagram or my blog and used hashtags. It feels disingenuous and try-hard to use that method but it worked. It's ok to want your work to be seen! I would make up projects for myself, such as doing typography or making series of paintings around a particular theme. I was really lucky that one of my series got picked up by Buzzfeed which put me in front of tons of eyes. I'm not Type A by any means, I don't usually cold email art directors or send out promotional materials (those methods work for my friends!) but just by posting some work, people seem to find me.

You work in multiple media, which I imagine is a balancing act. Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

I find 'play' very important between works. I switch from graphic design to illustration to thinking about story structure, sometimes multiple times a week. All of that context switching can be hard for my mind to keep up with so it's important for me to take breaks and make something 'bad'. Doodling, cutting shapes from construction paper or just playing with watercolors keeps me loose. Rest is the most important thing to me; it keeps me creative, focused and sharp.
Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

"Doodling, cutting shapes from construction paper or just playing with watercolors keeps me loose."


Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?

Balancing my full-time job and working on side projects is definitely the hardest. I love working in a newsroom and thinking about different types of ways to tell a story but spending all of your creative energy for 8 hours a day, 5 days week, can drain you and not leave a lot left over for freelance or personal work.

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

Word-of-mouth, honestly! Because I have the security of a full-time job, I can be really choosy with the clients I take on. When I first started out after college, I would take on a lot of things I didn't want to do because I wanted to gain experience, to save money to move to NYC and because I was afraid to say no. My most recent work attracts the type of people whose endeavors I want to support and then they recommend me to their colleagues or someone sees it and contacts me.
Brittany Holloway-Brown
Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

How do you stay creatively inspired?

I make sure to look and absorb as much as I can. The great thing about living in New York is that I have access to a lot of amazing exhibits and lectures. It's important to pay attention to people who don't work in the same medium as you. Listening to how another person thinks about the world or how they approach a creative problem is important; each of us have finite inner resources. The internet is important for this as well, but make sure to not fall into the trap of only looking at others' work as it's important to formulate your own thoughts and techniques.
Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

I make sure to look and absorb as much as I can... It's important to pay attention to people who don't work in the same medium as you. Listening to how another person thinks about the world or how they approach a creative problem is important.


The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:

Humility (always things you can learn from working on new projects or with new clients, also important to stay polite and gracious)
Patience (there will be lulls in work sometimes)
Confidence (believe in your work, there is no right way to start and you will never be 'ready', it's important to just dive in.)
Brittany Holloway-Brown | Freelance Wisdom

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China Kautz

China Kautz is the boss lady behind Olive Paper Co. a modern lettering and design studio currently based in Cincinnati, OH. She is also a member of our Creative Lady Directory! We're loving her warm spirit, calligraphic hand-lettering, and grounding productivity tips. Thanks for sharing with us China!

China Frost | Freelance Wisdom

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance designer and letterer.

Becoming a freelance designer came around full circle for me. When I was in high school and even in college I wanted to have my own stationery business. I was always doodling and crafting things but never really knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” After bouncing around through jobs I knew I needed to be in a business where I could be creative and be my own boss. So fast forward to 2015, I got engaged and took the challenge to DIY and hand letter everything that I could for my wedding. I started documenting my lettering journey through Instagram and found this amazing community of letterers. After putting my work out there and getting great feedback from people I decided to get a business license in 2016 and do this thing for real, even if there was a possibility for me to fail. It’s crazy to me now when I look back at my past self who wanted to have a stationery business cause now I sorta do!

In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?

I attracted them through Instagram. I never really knew the power of social media until I started a business that uses it on a daily bases.
China Frost | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

Staying productive has got to be the most challenging aspect of running a business. Here’s a few tips that I do to stay productive even when I am unmotivated.
1. I have a to-do list every morning that I draft the night before. This really keeps me on track. Whenever I skip doing a list I find myself doing random  tasks in the morning and my mind doesn’t start to really focus until 11am.
2. I always eat breakfast. I have to thank my parents for instilling this in me when I was in high school. Having a good breakfast really just starts my day off right and puts me in a good mood. I mean, who doesn’t love a healthy avocado toast first thing in the morning?!
3. Now this tip is something that I am still trying to work hard on. It’s staying off social media throughout the day. There’s been days where I know I have work to get done but I find myself scrolling through Instagram and 30 minutes flew by.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

My favorite thing about freelance is that I control the direction of my business. Every victory and failure is on me. I love being able to have that power. Another bonus is to be able to spend time with my corgis.

"My favorite thing about freelance is that I control the direction of my business. Every victory and failure is on me. I love being able to have that power."


Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

I think it is important to take time for yourself. A few things things that I've done is make my husband's and amy bedroom a tech free zone. When we would get ready for bed I would continue to check emails. Now I put my phone on the other side of the room so I can’t even reach it. Also depending on the day I have started to set a time for when I stop working, regardless if I still have things on my to-do list. Once I am done working for the day I make a new list of the tasks I didn’t get around to and pick up right where I left off the following morning. My husband has definitely helped me create a work-life balance as well. He works a 9-5, so when he gets home he knows I’ve been cooped up all day and he encourages me to leave the house for a little bit, whether that’s taking a short drive through the city or grabbing a beer at our favorite spot.

"I have started to set a time for when I stop working, regardless if I still have things on my to-do list. Once I am done working for the day I make a new list of the tasks I didn’t get around to and pick up right where I left off the following morning."


What do you do to stay creatively inspired?

I love to explore the city. I really have been blessed to live in Cincinnati where small businesses are popping up left and right and the creative community here is incredible. All of the creatives who I have met here so far are so supportive and we feed off one another. Everything about this city I live in keeps me inspired. Trolling through Pinterest also doesn’t hurt to spark that creative buzz.
China Frost | Freelance Wisdom

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