how to become a freelance illustrator

Person of the Month: A Freelance Illustrator, Jiaqi

At the Gingersauce online brand book maker, our mission is to educate on the importance of visual presentation and company branding. In line with it, we have decided to start a series of interviews with talented designers we personally follow, to see what their thoughts are on the topic: what tips and tricks they can share, what lifehacks they learned pursuing a career in design, what they would change if they could go back in time. 

Are you a designer and have something to share? Hit us up at [email protected] and maybe you’ll be a hero of the next interview 🙂


‘For me, it’s like living in a fantasy world. You can use your own voice to let everything make sense..’

It’s been a month already since we interviewed a designer – are you ready to meet another awesome person? Today we’re having Jiaqi, a freelance illustrator whose works you will not be able to stop viewing. They are crazy good. 

Aged 27, Jiaqi comes from China and has been working in the design industry for approximately 5 years already. With her experience working with numerous clients from different spheres, she has a lot to share with others. Keep on reading if you want to receive some professional feedback on how to become a freelance illustrator!

A Path To A Fantasy World of Illustration

date illustration

Every designer and professional illustrator has their way of learning. Jiaqi believes that the best one is to learn from the field professionals.

Did you study design, or are you self-taught? What’s the best way of learning design in your opinion?

I studied graphic undergraduate, animation for postgraduate. I love both majors! But when I am really working in the company or for clients, I realize the best way of learning or getting better is working with briefs 🙂 Also, you can work closely with some amazing art directors, you can learn from the best.

black girl illustration

Where do freelance illustrators get their jobs? Let’s see.

Do you have any projects or companies of your own?

I am working as a freelance illustrator, most works are coming from my email inbox and my rep.

photographer illustration

All designers we have ever interacted with have their own reasons to start working in a sphere. It’s always fascinating to realize how much design can offer.

city illustration

How did you become a designer and why?

I think I always wanted to be, or do something related to art since I was a child. When I was in art university I saw those cool works from different studios and naturally just wanted to be one of them 🙂 

picnic illustration

Illustrations are not just cool pictures – it’s a means to convey a message in a beautiful and subtle way.

What do you like the most about being a designer? 

For me, it’s like living in a fantasy world. You can use your own voice to let everything make sense and become beautiful. Also, it makes me excited that I can work with my dream client!

familyillustration

Jiaqi has an awesome, particular illustration style. You won’t confuse it with anyone else’s. What’s the secret?

How did you find your style of illustration – colorful, revolving around daily life? Was it hard to find it?

Sometimes the color choice is just everyone’s different preference. The images in my head were actually influenced by many things that I saw. It’s not hard at all, I think it’s all about experience or memories 🙂 

illustration cat

Designers and illustrators are creative and impressionable people. Of course, anything happening in their lives influences their works, visuals, and style. This is why we believe that new experiences are a key to success! 

We see you’ve traveled a lot – did it influence how you view life and the art you create?

Absolutely! For example, when you take a walk in the city you may see people in different clothing styles depending on the weather, culture. I love to see different architectural styles, patterns 🙂 I do like taking photos. Later, when I go through my image gallery I can find a nice composition or inspiration. 

music illustration

Looking for inspiration, you can sometimes find it in the most unexpected places and things. Our today’s talented guest prefers to arrange an aesthetic library in her brain. Where are you looking for your muse? Let us know.

Is there anything that inspires you to create your work? What is it? 

There are tons! Can be movies, photos, furniture, or the artists that I admire. These resources are like an aesthetic library in my brain.

co workers illustration

Art is a communication style. As an artist, you always push some buttons in your audience’s mind. That’s the beauty!

How do you want to affect people with your art, what emotions evoke?

I am trying to make my work easy to read and give a joyful vibe.

candy illustration

Arranging your creative process to be comfortable and efficient sometimes plays a great role in the end result – and the communication with the client.

What are the 3 tools that you’re always using in design?

Pencil, paper, Wacom tablet.

See what our other guests use to make the best out of their workflow: Akira, Fatima.

teenagers illustration

There is always one project you remember and get back to throughout the years of practice. Something that was exciting, or helped you learn a lot. Something that makes you proud and instills confidence in your own skills.

What is the most memorable project you’ve previously worked on? (Good or bad).

I did a board game for a client (but it seems the release date is still not sure yet). It was probably the most challenging one. I had no experience designing a complicated game, and it is going to look very busy but still needs to make sense. But everything works well in the end and I am pretty proud of myself. It gives me confidence 🙂 

workflow illustration

Our favorite question is coming! It’s about presentation – well, of course, it is. 

How do you think the presentation of visuals influences the communication with a client and their attitude to design results?

Most of my clients don’t really require PDF (Lucky me). But I do believe a nice layout helps other parties understand the process.

bottles illustration

We have already interviewed some designers, and asked them about how they do their presentation. But what about a freelance illustrator? Is the secret key to a successful presentation any different?

How do you personally present visuals to your clients? What are your success secrets?

I try to make my sketches very clean and easy to understand. Adding more options for clients is key, include one you love the most (of course) maybe another 2 save options.

books illustration

If you’re wondering how to become a freelance illustrator, the next few pieces of advice will be rather helpful. How can you improve your communication with clients, and present your visuals better?

How designers should definitely not present their designs? What top 3 mistakes can you highlight regarding the communication with clients?

1. Personally I feel like a rough sketch is not the best choice to show in the first round, keep that in your sketchbook. 

2. Get into the project too quickly. Ask as much as you can, small things like size, branding color stuff, big things like keywords, where they are going to use it, etc. 

3. Not signing the contract beforehand.

What advice would you give to a beginner yourself?

Not trying to be a perfectionist, but I would tell myself to make everything tidy including my photo gallery.

motorcycle illustration

Design is a job of course. But a rather enjoyable one, don’t you agree?

What is the design in your eyes?

A nice thing that makes your life feel better! 

prode illustration

A few years is full of opportunities for designers: to work on something exciting, to meet awesome people, and challenge yourself and your creativity.

Where do you see yourself a few years from now? 

I think I will be the same! Work-wise 🙂 I hope I can collaborate with more amazing artists!

car illustration

Thanks for coming, Jiaqi! It was incredible meeting you. You impressed all the Gingersauce’s team with your vibrant works – and personality. We wish you the best in all your endeavors, and hoping to have you again sometime soon 🙂

P.S. We’re collecting phrases that designers hate hearing from their clients, like “Love that, just a few edits”, what’s your most “favorite” one?

We are almost there, but…..

How can Gingersauce help you present your visuals?

Gingersauce is a brand book builder that combines automation and creativity. It’s a professional tool – meaning, it won’t do a half-baked job, leaving you with a mediocre result. 

Jiaqi says – a nice layout helps the clients understand the process behind your work better. Gingersauce will help you gather all your prototype visuals, make a professional presentation, and ensure you’re in sync with your client.

Create A Brand Book

Have you already checked out Jiaqi’s works? Go find and follow her on her socials, to never miss a new illustration:

Dribble | Instagram | Website | Behance

Go show her some love!

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