Interview with Alex Mathers

1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

I never planned to be an illustrator. I did geography at university and then a Masters in Real Estate.

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

I got into illustration in my early twenties in order to make some passive income selling stock illustrations.

I’d enjoyed drawing and art growing up, but never had any formal training. It’s something I taught myself online.

Selling stock was a fast learning curve for me. It was only until I started getting asked for commissions through the site that I realized illustration may become more of a career direction.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

After having an agent find clients for me, the most successful means is through the network of people I know who know of me from being active online. I try as much as I can to keep in touch with people.

The nature of the illustration and design industry is that it will take a while for most potential clients to need you for a project once they know you exist. This is why it’s crucial to keep on the minds of as many relevant people as you can, consistently over time, rather than what most people do, which is to see they have little work coming in and go into a mad rush trying to sell themselves everywhere.

It’s better to go slowly and steadily. Keeping in touch with people, having a newsletter, sharing what you’re working on, becoming an authority on your area.

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

I check in with them through email after the jobs have finished to ask them how the project went and how they are doing; maybe to ask them questions, to keep me front of mind.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

I’ve had a few clients take a long time to pay, for sure, and in most cases, after a few reminders, they do pay.

Signing a contract and making sure all the agreements have been made in writing is important if you ever need to take anyone to court or anything.

But the best way to avoid being paid late is to work with good, respectful and professional clients. This comes from being a pro yourself, and finding a lot of client work, so that you can say yes to the better clients.

6. What does your typical work day look like?

I write in the mornings, go to the gym and rest in the afternoon, and draw and learn languages in the evening.

I live in Bangkok right now, and enjoying learning Thai and taking in the chaotic heat and food of the city.

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?

Being productive is everything. Respect your energy and keep it fueled. Become a creative machine. Producing a lot of daily output, even if a lot of it is junk, creates material that can be whittled into something amazing. More content means more to share online, and more people to know you exist.

You can find out more about Alex on his website. Or follow more of his writing on Medium and his digital illustration on Dribbble

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Interview published on: Mar 22, 2017

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