Anjelica Roselyn

Anjelica Roselyn is a womenswear designer and fashion illustrator based in London. Her fun and unique illustration style has gained recognition from fashion icons such as Pat McGrath, Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott, Anna Sui, Adam Selman, Marco de Vincenzo, and Ohne Titel. We are especially loving how she is making waves in the live illustration space.   

Photo by Miles Drury

Photo by Miles Drury

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

I think it’s a combination of being consistent - having a good portfolio that showcases your work/who you are as an artist, and consistently putting out new work. Also you can’t be shy when it comes to contacting new companies. 

Do you have any tips for being your most productive? 

Stay inspired and pace yourself. If you’re constantly burning yourself out then you’re not going to be productive when it’s time to focus. 
Anjelica Roselyn | Freelance Wisdom

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

I think the fact that you learn so much every day through doing almost everything yourself. You may have a period of time where you’re working on the same project or piece of work but freelance work makes for a varied day to day - if you’re consistent.

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients? 

I don’t think I know the magic key to attract a client however I believe clients will always hire you because there is something unique about you. If they can hire someone else for doing the exact same thing, then they will. You have to naturally stand out. 
Anjelica Roselyn | Freelance Wisdom

Lately you've been illustrating live at events. Can you tell us a bit more about what that means and what you like about it? 

I love live illustrating because you don’t have to overthink what you’re drawing - it’s very in the moment. Also it’s great to see people’s instant reactions while you’re drawing, and when you finish drawing. Plus it’s great to draw in different environments. I think it’s a great way to make you a well rounded/well experienced illustrator.
Photo by Miles Drury

Photo by Miles Drury

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

I’m still learning that myself but so far I just know that you have to clear out time completely to deal with these things. Blocking out a couple days or so at a time as opposed to trying to merge everything together. Also having spreadsheets/files (like an invoice template with your logo) saved already is a huge help.
Anjelica Roselyn | Freelance Wisdom

Are there any projects on which you're ruminating that you'd like to make time for someday?

Mostly a lot of merchandise for my online store, I have so many ideas that I wish to execute eventually. 

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

Determination, Patience, Resilience.
Anjelica Roselyn | Freelance Wisdom

Get Social with Anjelica

W E B S I T E  |  I N S T A G R A M  |  F A C E B O O K | T W I T T E R

 

Kelly Abeln

Kelly Abeln is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Minneapolis. She's been freelancing full time since getting laid off from a design job 3 years ago, and hasn't looked back! She loves setting her own schedule and not wasting time stuck at a desk.

We love her loose style and really appreciate her perspective on how to market yourself. Thanks for sharing Kelly!

Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

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

I was an illustration major at art school (Minneapolis College of Art and Design), but in my last two years I took a lot of graphic design classes and became more interested in a career as a designer. After graduating I felt like I still needed to build up my design portfolio and began a full-time design internship at a contemporary art museum in Massachusetts (MASS MoCA). This was 2009 and the recession was in full swing. Lots of talented designers were out of work and job hunting was daunting. I then applied and got accepted to the Chronicle Books design fellowship program. I got to work full-time for 6 months in their San Francisco office. I then returned to Minneapolis and spent a while job hunting, freelancing and working part-time as a designer at a nonprofit. Eventually I landed my fist full-time/permanent design job at Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, the eco-freindly cleaning company. I worked as an in-house designer there for 2 years while continuing to freelance in my off time. Our office was re-located to Wisconsin and I received a severance package that made transitioning to full-time freelance less daunting. I have been freelancing full-time since then, over 3 years ago!

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

My first big client was Chronicle Books. After completing my fellowship there I kept in touch with some of the designers and let them know I was freelancing. My first projects for them were small, but I’ve been working with them ever since and the scope of projects has grown! For illustration work I sent out special, targeted promos, like a copy of a handmade zine about women’s empowerment I made to Rookie Magazine. They ended up liking it and I've worked with them for years on editorial illustrations for the website and other design related items. I also sent out a lot of promo’s to magazines and got a handful of responses/jobs from that. Local design contracting gigs I got from recommendations from people I’d worked with at my job before I became freelance who had moved on to other companies.
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

It is pretty hard when you set your own schedule! I can get really distracted by wanting to clean up my apartment or other tasks besides work that are nagging me. I try and keep regular working hours, Monday through Friday 9 - 5 ish, but I allow for a lot of flexibility. It’s important for me to not feel guilty when not working during nights or weekends, so I try and get my work done during the day. The benefit of being your own boss is that if I know I’m not going to be productive because I’m tired I’ll take the day off and make up for it later.

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

I think the uncertainly is the hardest part! At the end of the year it all shakes out to be a decent income, but month to month I can be either overwhelmed with work or short on work and worrying. It has been a struggle to try and enjoy the slow times and work on personal projects, and not worry about where the next job is going to come from. I’m trying to have faith in myself that I’ve made it work for the past 3 years, so I will continue to make it work even if I don’t know how. Also when I get a bunch of projects at once I have to set a strict schedule including rest time so I don’t get burnt out. It’s really hard for me to turn down a project I want to do because I’m too busy, but I’m starting to do that!
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

Being my own boss. What I dislike most about an office design job is keeping up appearances. Say it’s 4pm, you had a really productive day, ate lunch at your desk and know there's nothing you're going to accomplish in this last hour at your desk. You can’t walk out the door without coworkers side-eyeing you. I love that working from home I don’t have to deal with that or a bunch of meetings, or the other non-creative parts of a design office job. If I’m sleep deprived I’ll sleep in and work later so I’m not tired while working all day. If I complete my goals for the day I’ll go take a long walk at 3pm. The freedom to manage my time the way I think is best and most productive is my favorite part of freelancing.
Of course I still have clients, deadlines and my own admin work like invoices, but the control is priceless. I also got to take a trip to Australia for 3 weeks last year. I’d been wanting to take advantage of the fact that I can basically work anywhere, I just need my laptop, internet access and some art supplies. It took a lot of planing, but I got a lot of my work done before the trip, and spent 1-2 days a week working while there. It’s pretty hard to get 3 weeks off while working a desk job, so I’m so glad I made it happen!

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

About twice a year I’ll make a list of dream clients or clients I think I’m a good fit for and contact them. Either by a snail mail postcard or email. I find that marketing yourself can be really draining, so I only go after clients I really think I’d be a good fit for. I go for quality over quantity on marketing. I also go in knowing the return is going to be small! Maybe one or two clients from say 100 contacted will turn into actual jobs. However if it’s a really good fit and they becomes a repeat client the effort is well worth it. That’s all the outright marketing I do. Of course I keep my website up to date and instagram active. I keep my work out there for people to see and let some clients find me.
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

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

I have a few very basic google doc's I’ve been keeping for years that work for me. One doc tracks my income. I enter in all the invoices I send and mark them once they’re paid. This is an easy way to tally my income and who I’m waiting on for payment. I have another doc of all my business expenses. I keep receipts on my desk until they’re entered into the doc and then I put them in an envelope. This makes doing taxes and the end of the year easier, I already have docs of all my expenses and income! I do use an accountant who provides worksheets that I fill out with all my info for the year. They basically check over my work and then file my taxes for me. They also help me estimate how much each of my quarterly tax payments should be, based on how much I’m earning. My biggest tip is to not wait until the end of the year to do your taxes. I do a little work all year long so it’s not as painful in April! 

Are there any projects on which you're ruminating that you'd like to make time for someday?

I have a huge list of ideas for personal projects! I started doing little autobiographical comics this year that have been really fun. I’d love to make enough to either self-publish or find an indie comics publisher to make a little book of them. I’m also eager to move into a bigger place and have room to paint at a larger scale. Currently my studio is in my 1 bedroom apartment so I’m a bit cramped. I want to spread out and get messy and experiment with different materials. That’s what I’m looking forward to.
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

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

Besides keeping somewhat regular hours I no longer work past 10pm! In general I stop well before that, but when I have a big deadline I can end up working nights. But I just know that I’m useless after 10pm, and I’ll be useless the next day as well. So I’ve made a rule that I stop working at 10pm, wind down and get to bed before midnight. I usually plan enough that I don’t turn things in late, but if I have to ask for an extension I will. It keeps me sane to think even if I’m really busy I’m going to keep a normal sleep schedule. I also mostly don’t do client work on the weekends but will draw for fun, it’s a good balance. 

Any music, podcast, or book recommendations that you'd like to share?

I listen to A LOT of podcasts! Being able to listen to funny conversations while working alone from home is great. I love comedy and beauty podcasts. Some of my favorites are Throwing Shade, Comedy Bang Bang, Natch Beaut and Glowing Up. I download and intend to listen to podcasts about creativity, and other educational ones but those end up feeling like homework. I also have a Spotify playlist of instrumental or foreign-language music that I can listen to while working when I need to focus and can’t be distracted by words.

Anything else that you'd like to share? 

My biggest tips for getting work and keeping clients happy are: do your best work, deliver it before the deadline and exceed expectations. You don’t have to go crazy, but even turning you work in a day earlier than requested, providing extra sketches, being gracious and polite will endear you to clients. You’d be surprised how many creatives turn in work late. I think being easy to work with is as important as the quality of your work, so remember that! People will want to work with you again if it’s a pleasant experience. You still need to stand up for yourself and make sure you are being compensated fairly, but taking the extra step, especially with new clients will make you stand out.
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

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

Motivation, talent, and resilience.
Kelly Abeln | Freelance Wisdom

Get Social with Kelly 

W E B S I T E  |  I N S T A G R A M

Hélène Baum

Hélène Baum is a Berlin based graphic designer and illustrator with a passion for color. After finishing her design studies in Lyon (2010), she went on to work for small and big design studios in Amsterdam, London and Berlin – making illustrations, animations and all matter of designs, from books to flyers. Just a year ago, Hélène decided to take the leap into freelance with a focus on illustration. We're loving her reflections on the transition from part-time to full-time freelance as well as her insightful perspective on color. 

Hélène Baum | Freelance Wisdom

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

Initially, I studied visual communication with graphic design as the focus. My first job was in Amsterdam, where I worked part-time as a graphic designer in a studio called Roosje Klap, rooted in the culture and art scene of the Netherlands. The rest of the week was spent doing little design projects for friends, drawing and making jewelry. It was a sort of exploratory time. I then moved to Berlin and while searching for a job there, was asked to freelance on a five months ident animation project for ITV3 in London. It was an amazing time! I remember being impressed how these 15-20 freelancers in the team were doing what they were best at and the energy emerging from this in the office. It was very inspiring. That’s when I started to really explore the illustration side of my activity by creating short, hand drawn animations with felt pens and watercolour. I couldn’t stop drawing. When I came back to Berlin though, I took on a full-time job as a graphic designer at online fashion retailer Zalando, as I needed to pay bills quite fast. It was also still unclear to me, how to process this new found passion for making illustration (static or moving). I stayed in that position for three and half years and used the evenings to learn and work on my art. A year ago I leaped again and decided to go freelance with illustration as the primary focus.

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

Essentially by doing a lot of self-initiated work and putting it online (Portfolio website, Instagram, Facebook, Women who draw…)

Can you tell us a bit more about how this quote, from Édouard Manet, guides your life and work?: "There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another."

I love this quote because of the deeper meaning I read into it, although it might not have been Edouard Manet's intention. No lines, no separations, no borders, no walls, just different people and nature coexisting next to each other. Very peace and love!
Colour is the most crucial aspect of my work, and when I use lines, they are to be seen as colored surfaces. They are just thinner areas of colour as opposed to outlines and dividers.
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom

You studied in Lyon and have since lived in Amsterdam, London, and now Berlin. How have the moves from one place to another impacted your work? 

In each city, I learned something new about art and design but also about myself and how I envisioned my career going.
Lyon was about studying and exploring various forms of expression. It was fun but still all over the place while identity and style were forming.
Amsterdam is a creative heaven because dutch clients are generally open for bold and new design, which means the artist/designer is very free to explore and make daring art. It was a fantastic place to have a first job and get inspired by the colourful designs.
London is where I grew up as a child, so it feels like home, but I also did a few internships there while studying and became friends with Andersen M Studio. The Danish siblings do graphic design, photography and specialize in paper animation. They shaped me a lot, with their painstakingly beautiful craftsmanship and their collections of weird objects, music, and books. Later they asked me to join the ITV3 Idents project where, as mentioned earlier, the idea of illustrating started to take shape.
I’ve been in Berlin for five years now, and although this city is definitely a bit crazy and ever-changing, it has been a big stabilizer. Staying in one place for a while helps to figure out what the next step is. In my full-time job, I found out what doesn’t work for me and defined what does, all the while taking the time to build an illustration portfolio.  
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom

Do you have any tips for being your most productive? 

I think you have to find your own rhythm. When do you work at your best, are the most motivated and stimulated?
When I stopped my full-time job, I planned to still get up early in the morning, spend the day working and then keep the evenings flexible for social activities or more work if needed. It was always my assumption that I was at my most productive, late morning/afternoon. But I soon realized I was actually a night person. So now, unless there is a tight deadline, I start working early afternoons until late after midnight. 
Also taking real and regular breaks helps. Air out the brain.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

It’s liberating to be able to make decisions yourself about where, how and when you work. However, I think the best feeling has been the one of getting hired for what I love doing the most and being appreciated for it.
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom

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

I’m doing my bookkeeping myself as I’m still relatively new to freelancing and everything is quite manageable, but I will definitely hire an accountant very soon. No crazy system or tips. I just keep receipts and bills in one place and ideally put these into an Excel spreadsheet once a month to avoid panic when doing taxes. For Invoices, I keep two folders: "paid“ and "unpaid,“ always making sure to write down when I sent the invoice exactly. Until now I’ve been quite lucky with payments coming in on time, but you never know. And keeping part of the income aside for taxes and unforeseeable expenditures.

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

I would say, once you’ve figured out how to work best, see when you can carve out moments for friends, family and yourself and try to stick to it. Depending on how busy work gets, of course, you may need to push things around. But in the long run, if you don’t rest and relax at some point, you, your work, your clients and the people you love will suffer which is counter-productive on all levels.
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom

How do you stay creatively inspired? 

When possible, traveling to a new place is the most inspiring for me. But I make regular trips to bookshops, where I pour into magazines and books about art, design, photography, travel, archeology, anything really that stimulates me at that moment. Going for walks in the park and city, seeing an exhibition, movie or concert are great too. Basically any activity that breaks my routine and gives my mind fresh food for thought, is a source of new creativity.

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

Responsiveness, Patience, Passion.
Helene Baum | Freelance Wisdom

Get Social with Hélène

W E B S I T E I N S T A G R A M  |  F A C E B O O K