Textile Designer

Maayan Alper-Swan

Maayan Alper-Swan is an artist, illustrator and textile designer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Her clients and collaborators include Macy’s, Fashion Snoops, Urban Outfitters, Incoco, Calvin Klein, Kellwood, Victoria’s Secret and Temple Flower. She is also a member of our Creative Lady Directory.

Read on to find out how she gets it all done and still makes time to travel often for work and inspiration.

Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

Tell me about your path to becoming a freelance artist, illustrator, and textile designer.

I’ve always made art as far as I can remember. I come from a family of architects and grew up in a creative and aesthetically conscious environment. Art was always a part of my life and I was that kid always drawing on any surface I could find and putting together colorful outfits.
I decided to study fashion design thinking it would be a practical career in the arts as I have always loved fashion and style as a medium of self expression.
I started freelancing right out of school. I fell hard for textile design when I began creating artwork and patterns at the request of several clients. This led me to create a portfolio focused on illustration and surface design and things took off from there. My work in textile design and illustration allows me to be a multi-disciplinary artist that creates in a variety of media and techniques and I love the process in which the artwork transitions from something I’ve dreamed up to becoming a finished product, often on apparel or home decor.

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

This is a bit counterintuitive but before I stop work for the day, I like to start on new work or my next project and just leave it. That way the next morning I can jump right into my work and pick up where I left off rather than confronting a blank slate.
Also, I make lots of lists and my calendar is color-coded by client/projects so I can stay on top of my work and deadlines.
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelance creative so far?

Balancing the day to day of client work in tandem with personal work and longer term projects remains a struggle for me. It does, however, become easier with time and experience as you learn to set a clear agenda.

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

The freedom to work from anywhere and the ability to choose the people I will collaborate with. Freelance affords me the opportunity to pursue a great variety of projects, all of which challenge me and never leave me feeling bored.
I’m a night owl as well and thus I appreciate not having to try and perform feats of creativity within the prescribed hours of 9 to 5.
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

Instagram has turned out to be a great tool for attracting clients and collaborators.
I think putting out work that you are proud of and what represents your aesthetic is a great way to find those ideal clients that want to work with you for what is unique about your work and style. If you chase what you perceive as commercial, you would potentially alienate the most fruitful and rewarding client relationships.
I have gotten clients through word of mouth as well. It’s very gratifying when a client enjoys your work and the experience of collaborating and feels inspired to pass your name along to others.

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

Try to stay organized with tracking invoices and expenses throughout the year so that tax time isn’t quite as painful. Hire an accountant that specializes in working with freelancers or artists to do your taxes - they will be helpful in figuring out all your deductions.
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

What do you do to stay creatively inspired?

I travel often, always with sketchbook in tow. Being immersed in a different culture and a new landscape is constantly inspiring. It has become an integral part of my creative process.
I like to get involved in projects with artists working in media outside my own, such as film and photography. I find it creatively invigorating and I can then bring that energy back to my own work.
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

"I like to get involved in projects with artists working in media outside my own, such as film and photography. I find it creatively invigorating and I can then bring that energy back to my own work."


Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

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

My advice is to take a longer view on work-life balance and not think of it as a daily goal. Not every day, or even week, will be balanced but if working extra hours for a few weeks allows me to take a month off to travel, that’s my idea of balance.
I love what I do and it is so much a part of who I am. I subscribe to the notion that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.

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

Self motivation, curiosity, adaptability.
Maayan Alper-Swan
Maayan Alper-Swan | Freelance Wisdom

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Luisa Castellanos

This week we are excited to bring you another international interview, this time from Colombia! Luisa Castellanos is a fashion illustrator, textile designer, and self proclaimed lover of pink. Her work is vibrant, expressive, and powerfully feminine. 

Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

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

I decided to become into a fashion illustrator and textile designer three years ago when I was finishing my career as a fashion designer. Illustration was the only attractive part of design school to me; I fell in love and that was the beginning of everything. Then I turned my illustrations into textiles for my semester final project. Since then I’ve practiced a lot. I created Behance and Tumblr profiles and contacted people to see my work.

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

I started attracting my first clients via Instagram and Behance pages. I posted daily illustrations and prints with tons of hashtags and I did a lot of research and sent emails to fashion magazines and blogs. I think good clients started to come because I take this work seriously. In time, companies and brands started to contact me.
Nora Lozza print.jpg

Do you have any tips for being your most productive?

When I am working I try to keep my cellphone away and try to be as comfy as possible. I also like to listen Tedx talks, interviews, and historians on YouTube (My fav is Diana Uribe), or relaxing music on Spotify.

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

I think the biggest struggle was believing in my work enough to stop working for free.
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

What is your favorite thing about freelance?

The best thing about being freelance is that I can work in my pajamas and eat on my desk, hahaha.

You are currently based in Colombia, do you find that most of your clients come from within Colombia or internationally? If internationally, how do these clients find you?

Yes, I am from Colombia and I'm based here :) The majority of my clients are from Colombia, but I've had the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. They contact me via Instagram; it's amazing how a few hashtags can connect you with so many people.
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

How do you continue to attract your ideal clients?

I keep posting my work on Instagram (don't forget the hashtags), Facebook, Behance and Tumblr. I also send e-mails to fashion and art magazines sharing my portfolio. But I think the best way to attract ideal clients is word of mouth. If you did great work and you had a good relationship with your client, that will help you to attract new ones.

What do you do to stay creatively inspired?

Runways and trend reports always keep me inspired. I also get inspired by nature in my country (Colombia is the second leader in bird diversity in the world) and of course, women around me keep me inspired everyday.
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

"Runways and trend reports always keep me inspired...and of course, women around me keep me inspired everyday."


Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

If you could design for anyone who would it be?

Vivetta, Lazy Oaf, Antonio Marras, Miu Miu, Msgm, Polite.

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

+Be disciplined, constant, and passionate.
+Make a schedule to keep your deadlines organized.
+Establishing good relationships with your clients will define your future ones.
+Support freelance artists, buy national products and don't underestimate your work.

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

Discipline, passion, persistence.
Luisa Castellanos | Freelance Wisdom

Photography Credits: Hero photograph - Juan Moore, Other photos - Cristina Salgar, Runway photos - Mint And Fancy

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