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