This week we are traveling to São Paulo, Brazil to speak with Brunna Mancuso, an illustrator & editorial designer. Her work is loose, feminine, and emotive and has been commissioned by Nivea, Bebe.com, and Cosmopolitan Brazil.
Need a little support and reassurance? This interview will certainly put a spring in your step.
Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance illustrator and editorial designer.
I've been a designer for 12 years now and I swear it doesn't feel that long. When I was working in a publishing and design studio, in 2012, my bosses asked me to do some illustrations for a publication, even though I had never done such work before. They totally trusted me, and it was awesome. Some months after that, I went to college to study Visual Arts and my interest in painting / illustration grew even more... I was learning and working at the same time, it was a really special time for me, a whole new world.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
Actually, I've only started to get big clients for a year, now... As I worked in the field already — and still work — I kind of have contacts (and friends) in several publishers and studios, so they remember me when they have a job that suits me. Also, I participate in some art fairs and meet really nice people at those events. I love it. Some of them become clients.
Do you have any tips for being your most productive?
I love to draw and to paint and I'm always thinking about what can I do next... I have so many ideas! But if I'm stuck I usually run through my old sketchbooks. Often there are some good ideas lost in there. Also I really feel the lack of creativeness when I'm really tired.. so I try my best to respect my body (which is really hard when you do what you love). I'm a workaholic, you know...
What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?
As I said before, respecting my body, resting and not thinking about work is the most difficult for me. When I'm not creating I feel I'm losing time, and it's horrible! So, getting my mind away from work is, for sure, the most difficult for me.
What is your favorite thing about freelance?
I love the freedom. It can be really tricky and you can work for several days with no rest, or the opposite, you can work only 4 hours a day and think it's ok (and if it really is you are a lucky person, congrats! haha). But work for myself, running my business (even the boring part or it), feels like I'm doing these things for myself... it's a good feeling.
How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?
Sharing my work on social media, for sure. It's the best thing an illustrator can do for him/herself. Especially my personal work, because this is the work that comes from my soul. I do the paintings because I love to, not because someone paid me to do it. Of course I love the commission too, and I share those as well, but I think it's really important to keep the personal work always.
Do you have any tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?
OMG It's always a nightmare! haha When I struggle with paperwork I hire an accountant to help me. But usually I don't have to spend much time on it. I just try to be careful and keep the income/outcome under control, and breathe. haha
How do you stay creatively inspired?
The usual... music, good art/books/movies, travel, my cats... Even though I don't have a really calm life right now, I enjoy peaceful moments like discovering a new coffee shop or meeting my friends... A simple, yet meaningful life.
What advice would you give to a fellow illustrator who is thinking about going out on her own?
Save some money for a while, before jumping in, and keep meeting new people (and make friends...life is not only about contacts). Socialize! Being an illustrator can be lonely.
Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?
Oh, no, I haven't. haha I can only say that there will be moments that you won't have any commission, so I suggest that you focus on your personal work. I try to develop some new skills too.
If you could design for anyone who would it be?
Penguin Books and Google! :)
The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance creative are:
Flexible, open minded, confident.