Graphic design is a relatively young direction in the Ukrainian labor market. But in reality, this profession has existed for many years. It was known as a designer, creator of road signs and signs for institutions, advertiser and font selection specialist.
Now all this variety of specialties is combined into one profession – graphic designer. The peculiarities of his activity are in the harmonious combination of computer skills and the ability to feel the beauty. A person who works in this field, must not only understand how to use fonts, but also be familiar with the basics of psychology and behavioral patterns of the person.
Today we interviewed Alina Lugovska. She has gone through years of hard work in different companies, and now she enjoys working on freelance.
Just look at how awesome her projects are:
Her fascinating story is ready for you:
Tell us about yourself
I am from Rivne, I have been painting almost all my life, at the same time with school I went to art school and studied there for 9 years. It has given me an art base and understanding that I want to connect life with creativity. Then I studied at Trush Lviv State College in the specialty of restoration of paintings.
I immediately wanted to be a designer, but when I entered the design department, there were no free places. And I had a choice between ceramics and restoration. I hated to sculpt, but restoration is kind of a great thing, so let it be.
Therefore, I knew at once that the design I will study myself, and so I did.
What is your hobby?
You wouldn’t believe it – I love to draw) It’s a bit difficult for creative people here, because, on the one hand, you love to draw, you do it as your profession, you earn money on it and enjoy yourself. On the other hand, in your free time you also want to draw, just not for work. And it turns out that your whole life is one total goddamn drawing. In Photoshop, Illustrator, on paper and even on a table, sometimes). But I have recently started looking for additional “fun”. Not so long ago I realized that only as a designer \ art director in the office I have worked for more than 6 years, and besides 10 years of training in the same field – it’s time to train to diversify from creativity. Therefore now, for example, I have gone on a course of theatrical skill and scenic speech – it is something absolutely new for me. I also like to just ride a scooter in the city – it helps to distract myself.
What would you like to be in 5 years?
Oh man, this is a question that has always been a fool in interviews) It is not because I do not know who I want to be in 5 years, but because the plans were always to “get here the experience and stop working in the office”. Well, at the job interview you have to show that you will be useful to them not only now but also in 5 years, so I had to tell them how I want to develop in this wonderful corporate world.
What is the ideal place for you to work?
More light – this is point #1. A comfortable desk is a seemingly banal thing, but in one of the offices I found out that there are still uncomfortable desks that you cannot sit at all day. At first, I thought maybe they are just not designed for my 157 height, but conversations near the coffee machine showed that they were not comfortable for anyone in the office) Therefore, the table – point #2.
And I also love working in silence and alone. That is why I do not like open space at all.
What you didn’t like about your work, that you decided to go freelance?
It’s not that I didn’t like something directly, but rather that I saw more pros in freelance.
First of all, I’m very fond of the performance theme and I’m constantly reading various studies on this topic. And, in general, it is quite clear that a person can not be productive 8 hours a day. Physiologically, our brain does not work like that. But when we know that we have 8 hours and we will not leave work before – our brain to save energy will happily stretch and slow down all tasks. But again, this is not our laziness, this is the physiology of the brain.
And I was convinced that by working without a clear schedule, you can do as many tasks in less hours. And this is proved) Now I work 4-6 hours a day and they are much more efficient than 8 hours in the office.
Besides, I had a desire to choose my clients myself. So, in a big company there is an advantage of working with big and exciting customers and this is how you can learn to work “as an adult”.
But often in an agency clients are constant and the work with them can last for years. And this is rather a minus, because you want variety.
Well, I planned to create my own agency, and for this purpose the schedule of freelancers suits much better.
Name your 3 strengths and weaknesses
Huh, just like interview questions).
One of my strong points is that I love to work. Seriously, NOT to work is much harder for me, because I always think about work) Another strong point I consider great experience in large-scale agencies. I worked 4 years as a designer and 2 years as an art director. During this time I have studied well how advertising and design processes work at the level of large international corporations. That is why now, when I am on a freelance basis working with customers, everything goes very clearly and quickly.
The third strong point is what I have been painting for a long time. Seriously, for a long time. And the laws of composition, color studies, fonts in design work on the same schemes as in art. Therefore, in my design everything always corresponds to the rules of perception, which always work for the human brain.
The weaknesses, here it is more difficult) Because after years of study and work you get used to quickly changing everything that you do badly, and to learn the necessary skills. I can say that I am often hampered by the uncertainty in my results. I can take a long time to prepare portfolio cases and still not be happy with the result. Recently, my project at Behance won a Grand Prix in its category and thousands of awesome comments. Do you think I like it?)
Recently, I’ve been fighting perfectionism and learning NOT to bother so much.
What are your favorite books?
1. “Creative Strategy in Advertising” by Bonnie L. Drewniany, A. Jerome Jewler
2. “Illustrator Profession” by Natalia Ratkowski (will be useful not only for illustrators but also for designers!).
3. “Fundamentals of Academic Drawing” by Nikolai Lee (and this is a must have for illustrators).
4. “The Art of Thinking Creatively” by Paul Sloane.
5. Ogilvy on Advertising
6. “Graphic styles: from Victorians to hipsters” by Stephen Geller and Seymour Quast.
Do you work in a team? And if yes, how to deal with conflicts?
Yes, my colleagues and I are opening our own agency, so teamwork is more relevant now than ever. Everything is simple with conflicts – when you work with professionals with good experience, you do not have conflicts, you have discussions, and perhaps, disputes. But they do not go beyond the working level and always have a logical working solution. At the companies where I worked, I too have hardly seen any conflicts in the team. I can say that people who are prone to conflicts simply do not get stuck in good companies. Often, they do not even have a probation. Because everyone needs results first of all, not whims.
Well, in our agency we just gathered people with whom we have already worked and we know for sure that everything will be fine. That’s why everything is OK).
How to get the first order? And how did you get it?
I will tell you how it was for me. I studied in the 2nd year at the restoration of paintings and at night I taught Photoshop. At that time I was actively involved in various social movements: I volunteered at a book forum of publishers, took part in charity events to search for some orders through networking.
It worked, and I really found some orders. They were very cheap, but let’s be honest, and I was drawing logos in Photoshop then).
Then I saw an announcement that a public organization is looking for a volunteer designer. I approached them, and we started working. And I was very lucky because among hundreds of organizations in Lviv, half of which do almost nothing, I got to the Society Initiatives Institute. In fact, it is impressive, they have done and are doing a lot of great activities. And so they constantly gave me a bunch of different tasks that I did not do before and I studied.
Then my friend lent me a graphic tablet (hello Masha!). And I used to work on it. It was quite enough for me to start working.
In a word, at night, after pairs, I made different materials for this organization and tried very hard. I could do little, but I tried. I knew that I needed experience and acquaintances.
They periodically advised me to one of their acquaintances already on paid freelance and thus I received the first full order.
What to do if there are no orders? Where to look for a job?
It is necessary to remember that there is always an order. Perhaps, they are NOT your, but they are definitely there. Someone in the world right now is looking for a designer for a task that you can do brilliantly. Honestly) and your task is just to expand the search for potential customers. Now there are a lot of opportunities for this – freelance exchanges, groups to search for designers in social networks, portfolio sites to build your own brand.
So if there are no orders, you just need to look further and show your work on as many resources as possible.
Did you attend any design courses?
No, I received general artistic skills at the department of restoration of paintings. At the same time with my studies I taught Photoshop at night and started accepting my first freelance orders. At the 3rd year I realized that I lacked professional design skills (i.e. I drew logos in Photoshop, really), but it was not possible to pay for the courses, so I decided to take a probation in an advertising company. It should be noted that to study at work at once is a huge quest) In order not to be very stupid among my colleagues with cool experience, I sat at work from 10 to 23 and tried my best to perform all the tasks that I was given. It turned out slowly, and the phone boiled down from the constant googling (what a funny word) under the table “how to do that in Photoshop? and how to do that? “. It was a crazy 2 months, but I am very grateful to myself for the fact that then at 19 I did it. Finally, I was offered a job there, and it gave a cool start to my design development.
After college and along with the work I went to the Ukrainian Academy of Printing for graphic design, but after working at a real agency there was quite boring and after one semester I went to distance studying and went to conquer Kiev).
Does creativity influence your vision of the world?
Frankly speaking, it’s hard to say. My whole life from 7 years is somehow connected with art. So I don’t even know how I would see the world without this creative prism).
The only thing I can say for sure is that I always notice bad layout in the menu, poor logos, font problems everywhere I go. Sometimes I just force myself not to pay attention to it.
Is it possible to change something in society with the help of illustration?
Illustration, as well as design and advertising perfectly reflect the modern world, its problems and ideas. For example, at our work we constantly watched Cannes videos for different years and in different categories. And there are such powerful topics that go much further than just advertising products, it is impossible not to note their impact on society. It’s the same with the illustration: what the New York Times covers are worth.
How does your usual day go?
Now I work at home, on a freelance basis, so I have the luxury of planning my own work schedule. I work from about 13 to 20 with a break for lunch and sometimes for a walk. By 13.00 I do my own business – I read, draw, walk, ride a scooter. Of course, here I mean the normal working rhythm. And I, like everyone else, have a hard time with the amount of work, and then I work as long as necessary).
Still, now I try to avoid more than 7-8 hour working days, with the exception of extreme cases, because I see that this significantly reduces the efficiency of the work in just a few days of such a load. For about a year I worked 15-17 hours a day every day and I can responsibly say that this is a bad idea).
What does success in your career as an illustrator mean to you?
Well, I don’t plan to be an illustrator only, so my opinion is rather subjective, but if you ask me) I will say that success in the career of an illustrator is to publish on the covers of the most famous magazines and take from $5000 for work. It sounds quite like a success in the career of an illustrator).
What inspires you?
This is such an exciting question, I really like to talk about inspiration).
I have been painting since I was 7. And since then I have constantly heard something about “inspiration”. Nobody knows exactly what it is, where it comes from and where it goes. But everyone knows that a creative person has absolutely nowhere to go without it. ⠀
But I am sure that there is no magic here. Once a teacher at art school told us that “Inspiration must be sought with a pencil in hand”. Following this rule for many years, I realized that inspiration is a certain set of actions and circumstances. ⠀
It can be conditionally described as follows: a lot of work, multiplied by an interesting experience and a good level of productivity. ⠀
I will tell you in order: ⠀
Work. Everything here is simple, you have to sit down, and… start working! Very often a good job comes out after the 20th sketch and 10 hours of adjustments. And otherwise it would just not be of high quality. You can say “oh, there is no inspiration” from the beginning, because it did not work the first time, or you can understand that some things just can’t be done quickly. ⠀
Interesting experience. All that our brain generates is the result of recycling what it has already seen. These things are transformed, intertwined with each other, mixed, passed through the prism of your upbringing and past – and give a unique and extraordinary result. Therefore, it is essential to constantly try something new, to watch a new movie, to try new food, to go where you have not yet been, and so on. Plus Behance, Pinterest, Dribbble – a must have for artists / designers.
Productivity. This is an opportunity to work quickly, efficiently and without stress. And here it is more interesting. Because productivity is affected by: the state of your body, your workspace, the appropriate amount of work and its nature and your attitude towards it. ⠀
As you can see, inspiration is not magic at all, but a set of many factors. And it is so “elusive” just because all these factors are difficult to combine and implement.
Would you like to completely change the direction of your work?
Huh, I thought about it for the first time in many years of work just last month. So to completely change – probably not, but a week or two maybe. My job is to constantly generate creativity. Each project has to be cool, unique, previously unseen in the world and so forth. That is why sometimes there are thoughts that it would be a good time to do something absolutely not creative. In some work, which has clear rules and you just need to do something according to the scheme, or or move folders.
But not in a serious way. I love creativity very much. Now, with the opening of the agency I will have more business processes in my life, but still it will be all for the beauty and creativity).
Own agency is a great idea. How is the role distribution?
We are just thinking about it now, so I can’t tell you all the details yet).
What services do you plan to provide?
We have specialists in graphic design (packaging, branding, illustrations, etc.), web designers (sites and applications) and SMM specialists (promotion in social networks). Therefore, we will have a fairly wide range of services.
And when do you plan to earn the first million?
Now I am more concerned not about WHEN, but IN WHAT WAY. And this is exactly what I have been thinking very intensely over lately)).
Do you choose projects for your work? And can you opt out?
Yes, I can already afford to choose projects and take on not all tasks. Also on the freelance, I am more picky about the terms of work and always try to take time to work with the reserve. I want to be able to do the work cool and qualitatively, to have time to improve and redesign something for better results. And this has a direct impact on the next question).
How do you understand that you coped well?
Uh, a difficult question. Because it always seems that it was possible to do everything a little bit better.
But since I started working on freelance, I feel much more enjoyable with the results of my work, because the deadlines for the tasks have become much more flexible. As I myself communicate with customers, I agree on the most comfortable terms for which I have time to make a project, to finish it off, to improve the process and only then to show to the customer. Thus, the projects turn out to be of higher quality and more elaborated.
In our office we could have 10-15 projects per month and allocated less time for each project than the team needed. It is logical that the quality suffered. Now I take 3-4 projects per month and can give everyone a proper amount of time and get a cool result.
Was your work NOT appealing to the customer? And how did you defend your point of view?
Edits are an integral part of a designer’s life) and sometimes these edits are not quite liked by designers. I have seen 2 different strategies for working with edits:
1) oh, let’s just do as he/she wants and that’s all.
2) let’s discuss it.
And I choose the second option. Because the client is not the enemy of the project. For example, the customer says he wants everything to be green, and the designer understands that it will not work well. And the task of the designer, as a specialist in his business to talk to the client, to find out why he wants to be green and to offer alternative solutions. To explain why it will not be green.
Because the phrase “I want everything to be green” can mean, for example, “I want it to be brighter and the green is bright”. And the task of the designer to learn this motivation and choose the coolest way to make everything brighter (not green).
Often, customers do not know that everything in the layout, in fact, has its own system and explanations. Dimensions and colors of the elements, background, fonts – are there not randomly. Therefore it is important to discuss edits and propose alternative solutions.
Of course, there are customers who will still insist on their own and you just have to do it. But when you go to a dialog, there are significantly less such situations.
Do you have any favorite tools, techniques and methods of work?
As for tools, I’ve been very appreciative of the Procreate and iPad lately. There is nothing more convenient for digital illustrations yet.
In terms of techniques and methods, I think that the most important thing is a great composition.
Bright colors are among my favorites. Why do I have no craving for neutral colors? Recently I added a project to my portfolio, where the main colors are red, pink and yellow, and I still get high from it).
I also really like to use the illustrations in the packages. I always rejoice when such orders come.
Are there meetings, actions that can refresh your creative vision?
Yes! I have many creative friends who constantly do something amazing. When we meet and exchange news, I come home full of inspiration and determination).
And if I need to refresh my mind in the middle of the day, I go for a little walk. I try to catch the moment when after an intense work there is a creative frustration and all work processes become super slow, and I go out to get some air. After that, the work goes many times faster.
The main thing is when you start to be stupid, not to start browsing the social network. It does not work).
What are your main principles of work with clients?
I always keep to the deadlines. I am responsible in this respect, and I can move all my personal affairs, but not fail the customer.
I like to communicate with customers. I always ask many questions to better understand their point of view and project.
I read a lot about the impact of advertising on people and apply it in my work. Design is made not for beauty, but to increase sales, you should always remember about it.
What do you think about the MasterBundles project? Have you had any experience in packing work into bundles for sale?
I haven’t had such an experience yet, but now I think it’s worth a try).
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