Inspired by coffee, chips and her pets, Bangalore-based illustrator Alicia Souza has created a brand for herself and now runs a company that manufactures artist merchandise. Here’s what she has to say about savings, her career and using a Credit Card.
Illustrators are undoubtedly some of the most creative people you could ever come across. Their limitless imagination enables them to bridge the gap between the real world and their little fantasy-filled universes.
And the outcome is, more often than not, a brilliant representation of how they put things into perspective for their audience. Hence, being an illustrator not only requires one to possess the ability to come up with super smart content and be downright creative, but it also requires a relentless will to try new things. Success, as they say, will eventually come to those who focus on their work.
Blazing a trail in the field of illustration that is all her own, Bangalore based freelance illustrator, Alicia Souza, has not only created a brand name with her cutesy distinctive drawings that are often inspired by coffee, chips, her pet dog and guinea pig, but runs a successful company that manufactures artist merchandise. Her work places her at the top of the heap as far as illustrators in the city are concerned, thus making her a household name in the industry.
We spoke to this vivacious and giggly (as she likes to call herself) woman who gave us a fascinating insight into her life and career as an illustrator, her saving habits and how she handles finances to effortlessly run a brand name which is now her company.
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- Hi Alicia, thank you for taking time out for this interview. Firstly, congratulations on completing a year since you first started your own store. How does that make you feel, especially since you now have a full-fledged team and an office space of your own to work from?
Very blessed, constantly worried and excited (a good mash), and truly happy.
- We have been following your work for a while now and we’re curious about how you got started. Did you always want to be an illustrator? Tell us all about it.
Never! At least growing up, I really never wanted to get into any of the ‘artsy’ fields. However, it wasn’t until the end of school that I even entertained the thought, mainly because of the school art teacher who noticed my interest.
So, I chose to further my education in graphic design and realised on completion that I absolutely adore drawing. So, after many years of struggle, mistakes, learning and smacked foreheads, here I am!
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- You are extremely creative and talented and it shows in your work. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I can’t imagine drawing inspiration from one source only. Anything, everything and everyone is an inspiration. From conversations, to memories, to things I see and do – just about anything can inspire a single, little drawing or illustration.
- Have you undergone any professional training or undertaken a course? If yes, how did you go about it? How did you fund it? Did you save up for it? Did you take a loan?
I did my bachelors in Communication Design and my folks took a loan for the course fees. I worked a part-time job to pay my living and college expenses. After I passed out of university, I worked to pay off the debt.
I’ve always been good at saving, even as a child. This proved extremely useful when I reached adulthood, since I was averse to spend everything I earned without saving.
My savings got me through difficult times throughout my adulthood and ultimately helped me invest in my company and also in our (my husband and mine) apartment.
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- In any field it’s important to always keep yourself updated with the latest trends/technology, but in your field it is a necessity. How do you keep up in that sense?
I think you can get away with not being up to date with the latest technology and trends. However, it’s just the route I’ve chosen and it may work differently for different people.
I just try keeping myself aware. I’m not an over-enthusiastic tech freak, but I’m always open to checking out what’s new and what can make my life easier. I’m not particularly into trends though, but sometimes it’s something I can’t avoid in my field.
- With the number of illustrators out there, an illustrator’s career could be very short-lived if they aren’t good enough. Yet, you made the cut. You are extremely popular, with more than 90,000 followers on Instagram alone. How do you manage to stay on top of things consistently?
I don’t really think it’s a case of being ‘good enough’, but rather a case of how much you’re willing to persist. I think I can safely say that I’ve been rather religious with my work and I’ve also done many things that aren’t really my cup of tea.
That’s a big part of the journey that people forget, i.e., doing things that aren’t fun. As a freelance illustrator, I get to do the amazingly fun job of being creative. But, on the flipside, I also have to take care of the not-so-fun jobs that are a good 50% of the process, like accounting, working with hard briefs, marketing and researching.
- You have achieved remarkable success at a very young age. Converting a passion into a full-time business and making it a brand is highly commendable. And a successful business means good money too. So, how good are you with managing money? Do you save or do you prefer investing?
I’m a BIG saver and a fairly safe or risk-averse investor. So far, my biggest investment have been the properties. I guess the other has to be the company itself.
It’s a product-based company so we invest a lot in stocks, which means its investment heavy. Also, being a start-up, we’re always bootstrapping. That’s where personal savings come in at certain points.
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- Speaking of investments, in the creative field one has to constantly invest in new products to up their game. It could be buying the latest printers, scanners, laptops etc. How do you pay for these upgrades? Do you have a separate fund just for expenses such as these? Do you use a Credit Card?
I got myself a Credit Card around 2 years ago, but I’m more of a ‘use as much as you can afford’ kind of spender. But, because I’m rather good with money, I’ve found my Credit Card to be very beneficial as far as points are concerned.
I’ve been able to accumulate points and use them to buy goods for the house. I tend to buy only what I need, even when it comes to technology. I can pretty much always foresee a necessity (unless it’s something like the computer crashing), so saving for that or understanding my monthly expenses help.
- Being an illustrator may be easy, but being an extremely good one such as yourself is definitely hard. So, tell us and our aspiring illustrator readers what worked for you and what didn’t.
Being shy or only sticking to what I like doing didn’t help definitely. Being punctual and very organised helps tremendously.
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10. We are extremely fond of your dogs Charles-Brown and guinea pig Henry-Oats, and we often see them in your drawings too. Tell us about them and their adoption story.
The loves of my life! Charlie was a puppy picked off the road and he stole my heart the day he arrived home about 7 years ago. He’s been my companion since I moved to India and pretty much my muse too.
Henry-Oats joined the family a year ago and was adopted from CARE. He’s a year old now. They have both been rays of sunshine that brighten my day.
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11. What’s a typical day like at your studio/office? Tell us about your team and what they do.
I go to the studio only once a week since Saurabh handles the day to day running of the studio. Every day is a bit different, but is usually a mix of customer service, sending out orders, production chases and launches. It’s a mad house, but fun all the same.
- Like we mentioned earlier, you are a brand name now. So, what’s next for Alicia Souza?
We’re in a bit of a crux where we’re too small to make big leaps, but growing faster than we can handle. We’re definitely not taking a step back and expansion is definitely on the plate. We’ve had a lot of inquiries from abroad, so catering to that is one of our priorities at the moment.
13. Life can get hectic sometimes. What do you do to unwind? If you’re not drawing on a particular day for whatever reason, what do you do?
I tend to have time off every day. For example, I leave my desk and try to cook dinner on most days. That certainly helps me unwind. I love baking as well. Other times I just catch up with friends. I try to squeeze in things that don’t involve me being at my computer.
14. It was so good talking to you, Alicia. We wish you the best and we hope you achieve all the milestones you’ve set for yourself and continue to inspire and wow us with your work.
Thank you so much! A pleasure!
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