How do freelancers live: book cover design, own production of backpacks and travel work
How to cope with the instability of freelancing, is it necessary to read a book in order to draw a cover for it, and what happens to a horse when the pen is open on all sides - read in an interview.
Tell me where did you work before freelancing?
It all started with a very strange office for the production of souvenirs. There was an art director who loved to make everything from plexiglass, and under his command we made some unimaginable fancy business card holders, multi-level holders for women's lipstick and pencils that occupied half a table. I can not imagine who bought them.
There was also the Novosibirsk-based Mart-Design company, after which I decided to go to Moscow to Lebedev Studio. She worked there for three and a half years. When I realized that I had done my best, I decided to go to freelance, try my hand. Check if I will be in demand.
At the start, I mainly had orders for logos. Then I did not know how to filter customers and took just crazy requests. For example, "you need a logo for a bar so that a hydrant is drawn there that pees on a dog." This is very original! Cried and did.
And now you are designing books, right?
Now I work mainly with the publishing house Mann, Ivanov and Ferber. Their art director Lesha Bogomolov saw my cover of "Currency Wars" for the publishing house "Eksmo" and offered to work with them. I have never been listed in the staff. But I have a feeling of a staff designer of the myth.
What does the TK look like on the cover of a book?
They always have very clear TK. It is the art director. Sometimes even a psychological portrait of the reader is registered. It helps a lot when you can imagine a person who will eventually take a book from the shelf. What he will think, what to pay attention. Sometimes a specific type is registered, for example, Lyudochka or Vadim Petrovich - what books does it buy, what does it like, where does it work. These are exaggerated identikits. But they provide an opportunity to "get into the shoes" of the hero and look at the future cover with his eyes.
Bad TK is usually of such content: draw what you want, you have complete freedom! This is how to open a pen with a horse from four sides at once. Instead of running, he will stand, not knowing what to do.
Well, there is a normal TK and the pen is open only on one side. What else do you need? Do I have to read a book?
Not really. Enough to read the synopsis or excerpts from the book. It’s good that there are people who have already taken care of you and outlined the most important things. Now I am making out mostly non-fixation and scientific development about personal development. For this category of books is really quite a brief description. But for art, I think, no. Need to go deeper.
Where does the cover design begin? Tell me about your process.
It all starts with the search for metaphors - I always try to find something more complex than the one that already lies on the first level. There is a certain order of inventing.
I'll tell you on the example of one of the latest books “Incognito. David Eagleman's Secret Brain Life. She is now preparing to leave. This study is about the work of the brain, what tricks it does with us, and how it affects our behavior.
The first thing that comes to mind is: an image of the brain itself, a secret black box, a box from which the brain jumps out on a spring, a brain in a masquerade mask or cloak and black glasses. You can go from the association with magic tricks. The magician usually gets something from the cylinder. For example, a rabbit. And to enhance the association with the brain of the rabbit can be made pink. As a result, the brain itself does not have to be drawn, but the association with it is very strong.
And show off your coolest covers?
On the left is the Art of Negotiation, Jonathan Herring. I did it long ago when I was working at Lebedev Studio. I liked that the customer accepted such a crazy sketch. I drew it with pleasure.
Right above the "Tao of Physics", Fridtjof Capra. I like to think of a book cover as a tride object. That is, to invent a solid thing, in which all three dimensions are important: design, thickness, paper feel, how cutting or embossing will work.
Below "Our main high-rise", Roman Yankovsky. The cover for the book about the main building of Moscow State University was very honorable to do.
Whom in the industry do you look like?
I am mostly interested in illustrators, not designers. Especially those who are famously able to work with the metaphor of the minimal artistic means - Eleni Kalorkoti , Magoz . Separately, a very good project by Jenny Volvovski . She makes a redesign of the covers of all the books she read.
Of course, the favorite German publishing house Gelstalten ! I went to their site to inhale fresh air.
From left to right: The Secret History of Donna Tartt, version of Jenny Volvovski, The cover of the book “HIDE AND SEEK” by Gestalten, the cover of the book “Bodas de Sangre” by the illustrator Magoz
If you were asked to make a cover for a tabloid novel, such, according to all the rules - with Juanita and the wedding at the end - would you agree?
Yes! This is just a dream. Where do I sign?
Actually, I'm just thinking about starting to decorate fiction. Until now, I have been my own customer in this area.
The customer herself is like?
I am currently working on my book - about anger, for children and adults, called "The Volcano, which was angry." Hope to come out this year.
The story will be about a small Vulcan, which often goes out of itself and destroys everything around. His grandmother, a big old mountain, helps to figure out where the anger comes from, what to do with it, how to fix everything, if you are angry anyway. I tried not to talk about what to do with anger, but rather about how to learn to observe my emotions.
By the way, how do you feel about book illustrations - do you like them? Or more covers?
I love them. I want more projects with book illustrations! Not so long ago, she made a project for a friend who wrote a book for children, Crown Summer.
You do a lot of things in design. What do you like the most - books, websites, posters, illustrations, corporate identity?
When I worked at Lebedev Studio, I thought that corporate styles are the top of the design, and to become a famous cool designer, you just need to make styles and logos. And illustrations are not very prestigious. But then I just admitted to myself that I get great pleasure by drawing pictures. And relaxed.
Pictures are just artistic illustrations, non-commercial projects? Or are the covers also here?
It is rather just an illustration of the many universes that could exist. This may be some kind of hero or situation with these characters. But by drawing them, I precisely imagine the world in which they exist, and what they will do when we stop looking at this illustration.
All "pictures" can be viewed on the website of Natasha
I saw in your portfolio project with backpacks. Tell me about them - who invented them and what exactly did you do? Why precisely backpacks?
Backpacks we did with my husband Lesha Lurie. It was a one-time project. That is, we do not produce them all the time. I often sew something for myself and for loved ones - bags, dresses, sweatshirts. Once Lesha told me: let's just sell it all, because it is so cool! We decided to make backpacks.
At the start, everything seemed pretty simple. But in the end, we went a long way. First, it was necessary to otshit test sample - I did it on a regular sewing machine at home, almost from the curtains.
Then all this needs to be given to the designer, who will correctly make the pattern. Then follows an endless search for suitable materials and accessories. The most difficult task is to find someone who would sew the whole batch. We went through several industries and single seamstresses. Almost everyone refused - difficult and small party. One seamstress (male seamstress) took up sewing and disappeared. Then it turned out that something like a fit had happened to him, so it was difficult for him to work with our backpacks. Now he is all right. And we found a good production and yet released the lot, sold it, put the patterns on the shelf and started doing other things, more interesting.
You travel a lot and live in different places. Tell me, what is the most difficult thing in constant moving?
When you often go somewhere and try to freelance at the same time, the most unpleasant thing is to get into a situation where there are no working conditions or they are very bad. And on the nose and the deadline, and you need to by all means pass the layout. And you don't even have a desktop.
I like it when there is only my personal work corner. There are books arranged, photos, items brought from different countries - something that inspires me to work.
Natashin "corner" in Novosibirsk
If you could return to the past by the time when you just decided to leave the office and switch to freelancing, what advice would you give yourself?
Probably not to fuss and not to grab at everything. I would say: “calm, Natasha, do what you like, and customers will come exactly for what you are doing.”
Can you single out your best freelancing project?
This is probably strange, but I don’t highlight any project. It so happens that I like one of them more than others, but this is already a week away. Well, of the latter, this is probably the illustration for the Physical and Technology Park. They were very difficult for me, and the project almost failed, including because I was already in the eighth month of pregnancy, and it was really hard to work and constantly make edits.
Illustrations for Physical Park
And when a child appeared in the family, you did not want to return to a safe state with a stable salary?
Even this thought did not arise! On the contrary, I like to spend a lot of time with the child. And when during work you can take a break and hug Leo - this is priceless.
Don't freelance instability frighten you? How do you cope?
Instability scares of course. But even more frightening is the stability of office work. Freelance is good because you can try to work with different teams, customers. And the most beloved ones usually come back to me again, and we are doing more than one project together.
I try to save money from large orders in case you want to take an interesting, but not very expensive project. I write down all my expenses, so I know exactly how much money I will need next month.
Tell me about your biggest failure during freelancing.
This will probably sound strange, but I did not have any failures. Strange, because you constantly hear terrible stories about how someone worked six months on the project, but he was not paid, or something else like that. So far this has not happened. Maybe it still awaits me ahead. But I try to take preventive measures.
There were small failures, rather. For example, I never learned to work with friends and relatives. It is very difficult for me to be tough with them in some moments when it is really important for the project.
And with the husband the same story as with friends? Is it also hard to work?
I love working with my husband the most. It is a pity that we have so few joint projects now. Although there is one very large and permanent - we raise Leo, our son.
What do you think is the biggest freelancing myth?
Probably that freelancing work many times easier and more convenient than in the office. For example, when I work from home, I need incredible willpower so as not to fall on the bed for about two hours.
And how do you cope with it?
No, just falling on the bed for two hours. But at the same time I know that these two hours will work late in the evening.
There is a question from a previous freelancer, whom we interviewed: “Give some advice to an employer about how, in your opinion, to build relationships with freelancers correctly”.
As with any other people. Need to talk more! Namely, to speak in detail everything that will happen on the project before it starts, “on the shore”. As a rule, all rush to the project, as in the pool: maybe, we will come up! Everyone hopes that the project will develop in the most favorable way. As a rule, everything happens exactly the opposite.
First, you need to sit down and make an approximate schedule of work, what stage how much is done, in what intervals money should be paid. To clarify in advance the questions, for example, such: what will happen if no concept likes it? How many edits can be made to the sketch? And so on. In short, imagine that the project went in the most unfavorable way and lay straws in dangerous places.
If you had unlimited resources (time, money, power, people), what project would you do?
Yes, I have no global plan to improve the world or its capture. If I had enough money and time, I would just sit and draw for my own pleasure.