Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Would you mind giving a little personal background information about yourself and your websites for our readers?
Well, first of all thank you James for asking me to do an interview for one of my favourite blogs. My personal background is a bit mad to be honest. I was born in south of Russia, in a place that none of you probably ever heard of, a small city called Orenburg. I’m actually really proud of myself, being born in a small place people don’t get much choices and motivation to make it big carrier-wise.
But i was odd one out i guess. As my favourite painter Salvador Dali said: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” I grew up in a family of two big business people and i guess that’s where ambition comes from. At some point i was told “you are going to England to study and we’re afraid you don’t have a choice to say “no”. So i ended up in UK, i am still in London and i’m hugely grateful for all the experience that I’m gaining here.
Jumping back a little, first time I’ve produced some sort of artwork happened ages ago when i was 5. Me and my family went for some sort of safari in woods in south Russia and i’ve seen an awesome butterfly, once we got back home my grandmother equipped me with paint and brushes and i did my first little “masterpiece” of that butterfly. I think my granny still has that picture somewhere. But on a serious side, i come from Marketing and Business Management background; all of my studies were based around those two subjects. Currently i’m continuing my Business Management studies in London , writing for my design/marketing Designwithathought.com and freelancing. You can also visit my portfolio at www.elenasavitskaya.com.
Is graphic design something that you’ve always been interested in? Can you give us a bit of idea of how did you get into this field?
At one point in life when i was a teenager i had to find a job and pretty urgently, being a teenager applying for a marketing job would be pretty much pointless. Being a waitress wasn’t a choice either, as i knew I’m capable of much more than that.
So i started looking at options to work from home, designing little things in Photoshop and Illustrator was a small hobby of mine, but then the light bulb moment came and i realised that i could turn this into a job. From there i started doing some free projects for friends to build up my portfolio, reading (a lot of reading) blogs about design and books, loads of them. In fact all the background knowledge i was looking for to become a decent designer came from books. You can find a lot of tutorials online, but to get serious with it, you have to read books.
Bit by bit, I’ve build up my portfolio, skills and experience. And at some point Advanced Photoshop magazine contacted me saying that they found my work on deviantart.com and asked me to do a 5 page tutorial which then turned into a cover artwork as well. I was so incredibly proud of myself. From being nobody to getting featured in a magazine that i was learning off was a massive personal achievement.
Are you a freelancer? If yes, what’s your best methods in terms of finding/attracting clients?
Yes, i am a freelancer. And this is a hard question :). To be honest the strategy turned out like this: I started by just advertising on local websites like gumtree.com etc, and once i had a small client base i turned mainly to entertainment industry as it’s the best one for my type of work and most fun to work with to be honest. And as a lot of people know each other in that industry, being reliable and thoughtful with your clients gave my clients a reason to spread the word about me.
It grew from there. Right now my main tool for finding clients is probably online exposure, websites such as deviantart.com, behance.net, redbubble.com and my portfolio and blog of course. The more you expose your work, the more attention/clients you are going to get. Pitching works sometimes too, if you are an expert in one particular niche, doing some e-mail pitching can work, just be prepared that clients can be very cheeky and if you’re the one contacting them they will drive a hard bargain.
Inspiration is something designers constantly seek, what would you do to find inspiration for your design work if it happens to dry out?
CHOCOLATE! Just joking :), but it actually works sometimes too. Design books, new knowledge, are always a massive source of motivation and inspiration for me. My family, my boyfriend – best man on the planet and a massive support. I visit a lot of galleries and exhibitions too, i get a lot of inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings, and classic art, Da Vinci, Raphael , those guys really knew what they were doing, imagine, no TV’s, no internet, no distractions from what you’re doing. Those were the proper geeks, guys! So much to learn from them, if you just dig a tiny bit deeper, rather than just looking at the picture.
Sometimes when you’re out of inspiration simply switching on a random radio station works too. And a very important thing to do in order not to run out of inspiration – give yourself a break every now and then, don’t work 24/7, you will start to hate it then.
Do you follow any design blog? If yes, what’s your favourite ones?
Hell yeah! A lot of them, this psdvault included. My RSS reader is seriously overcrowded. Among favourites: Smashing Magazine, Abduzeedo, PSDTuts, Tutorial9, Freelance Folder.
And lastly, thank you once again for the interview. Before we go, could you give the readers a bit of intro of your current project and future plans?
My biggest current project is my blog, I’m in the process of writing up a lot of content for it. Tutorials, articles, book reviews and some very interesting things that no one was writing about yet, i will also concentrate a lot how design and marketing should work together, which is the main point in my blog.
I am also currently working on a few exciting projects with my clients which will surely end up in my portfolio, I’m also opened for artwork commissions, it’s very interesting to do. And the top secret project of mine involves video, but I’m not going to give it away just yet. I hope you will hear about it once it’s out :). Thank you once again for a great opportunity and keep up your amazing work on this blog, i will surely stay tuned.
That concludes this interview with Elena Savitskaya, a London based Aspiring web and graphic designer. For more info and get in touch with her, please log on to http://elenasavitskaya.com/.
And lastly, if you would like to be featured here on PSD Vault, simply contact me and send me some sample of your work, and I will be in touch with you.
Cheers and have a great day!