Esma Kurbegovic is a Photographer, an Illustrator and a Designer from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
You can find her here:
- Hi Esma, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
I am a visual communication and design student and a hobbyist writer, singer, musician. I am a freelancing illustrator, photographer and designer. Other people see me as weird, but extremely social and sweet.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
It’s been 3.5 years, 2 since I started getting a bit more serious jobs.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
I wanted to become a freelance because I was impatient about making my dream of becoming a professional artist come true. I think the decision was spontaneous, upon my discovery that people can make money by doing projects for private individuals. I used to think one has to be in a company under a contract in order to get paid. Even though the decision was swift, it took a long time before I actually managed to become a freelancer/
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
The fact that I produce creative pieces for all purposes and provide versatile services (game concepts, book illustration, logos, digital publishing, decorative paintings and sometimes even translation and writing)
- Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?
My competitors are artists, who like me, established their brand via social networks. Many of them are more experienced and credited than I am. Others seem to be able to gather in a larger following, which results in more clients and higher wages.
- Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?
I’d say at least 60% of the art business is made up of freelancers! It’s just that type of industry. Especially if we focus on my preferred field- illustration and concept design.
- What do your clients expect from you?
Timely delivery and creative solutions. Some only expect concepts based on their ideas and descriptions, but some don’t know what they want, just that they want some kind of art!
- Who are your typical clients?
Self-publishers of comics and other books, companies in need of logos, lovers of art, musicians, PR agencies, writers, movie directors and similar.
- How has your business changed over time?
In the beginning it was doing artwork for really small prices and sparsely, but I was really proud for being able to earn my pocket money. Then, the price offers drastically went up. Finally, upon starting university, the amount of jobs finally normalised, and since a few months ago started providing a regular income.
- How did you gain your first customers?
I was applying to hundreds of commission requests on DeviantArt forums! Then, a few people finally came back to me with art requests. I had a moderate Facebook following, so I was surprised my first client didn’t come from that platform. Though my next few customers found me thanks to my Facebook page.
- John Wanamaker said: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I do not know which half. Do you gain your clients by advertising or in another way?
I never paid for official advertising, just 5 dollars occasionally to have my work featured on a website. I Mostly self-advertise and post my work everywhere.
- How does your typical working day look like? What do you do when you are not working? How many hours/days per week are you working?
Just laid-back drawing and designing from my home studio/bedroom. I have my morning coffee and 20 minutes of watching series, go to university and come home to work. When I’m not working, I’m studying or reading about how to design better or how to produce music (being a hobbyist producer). I practice a lot, and occasionally, if I’m ahead of schedule, go out to relax in a party (which is again a learning experience since I analyse how DJs perform).
- What is your current inspiration that drives you in the business?
My undying love for art and the fact that I can’t imagine myself being something dull like an economist or lawyer. No offence to anyone, we need people working in all kinds of professions, but when you’re driven by creativity, ‘normal’ jobs smother you.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
I would practice way more in my youth. I’ve been doing art my whole life, but I feel like i would be incomparably better if I had practiced more when I was young.
- What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?
Team up with others who share your vision and together create something that will make everyone believe in you and eventually, investors will become interested. Network and practice your speaking skills, because PR and marketing is one of the most important things for business nowadays.
- Do you have an online resource which you use regularly? Which one?
InkyDeals, a design-oriented website that often gives out free templates and textures to make design run smoother and faster. For people willing to spare 20-30 bucks, they offer huge bundles and subscriptions that can skyrocket you as a designer. I also use ArtStation and Instagram for inspiration, because there are so many amazing artworks on these networks.
- What do you often dream about when you’re not working?
Being a producer. I’ve also been playing the piano since young age and live for music, so I couldn’t choose to do just one thing in life.
- The place where you find your peace?
My bedroom, the seaside and music festivals!
- What do you do in your free time?
Sing, write, produce music, learn languages, meet new people.
- Business plans for the future?
I want to establish myself as a reputable talented artist, and I wouldn’t mind being either in a company or freelancing, as long as all my hard work pays off.
- Your plans for the future?
Learn more languages, master music production, finish travelling around the whole world (half more to go!), find the love of my life, make other people’s lives better.