Eva Kedves is a Concept Artist, Illustrator and Photographer from Budapest, Hungary.
- Hi Éva, tell me who you are and what do you do as a freelancer?
I am Eva Kedves, Concept Artist at Digic Pictures and next to that I am a freelance Concept Artist, lllustrator and Photographer.
- How long have you been working as a freelancer now?
I started freelancing as an illustrator more than 5 years ago, and I became a freelance photographer after I finished school in 2014.
- Why did you decide to become a freelancer? Did you think about it for a long time or did your decision come suddenly?
I remember, I still attended school but I needed money so I started updating my portfolio on DeviantArt. As a beginner artist in Hungary you don’t have any other opportunity, you try to catch attention online or you can’t find any jobs. And after while people began to contact me and I started to earn money from my hobby. This was the first step of my dream to became true.
- What is your competitive advantage, which makes your clients hire you?
Well, it is a good question. I think it’s my style. I create photorealistic environment concepts and matte paintings. Luckily this style covers only a small group of artists. Most digital artist like to stylize their paintings with brushstrokes, etc. I was never good at stylizing, because I didn’t wanted to do that. I always wanted to create images that look like real photographs. If the viewer can believe that my idea could exist in another world, I have achieved my goal. My clients want these kind of images, they hire me because they need epic landscapes or scenes with good storytelling.
- Who are your competitors? What do they have that you don’t?
As I mentioned the other artists who work in the same style, in the same industry. If they don’t have full time job they are much more flexible than me. This is my biggest disadvantage. Usually I don’t do last minute commissions, and I accept commissions with a minimum 1-month completion time. This is because I’ve got a full time job, and I try to balance money hunting with my private life.
- Are there a lot of freelancers in your business?
Yes, I guess half of the artists in the industry work from home. It can be easier for creative people to have the freedom to schedule everyday life. The only disadvantage is I think (if you don’t have a fulltime job next to it) that you have to worry after every finished job when the next one comes, and what is it going to be. Financially you are vulnerable.
- What do your clients expect from you?
To receive the detailed photoreal artwork until the deadline. Based on the description and the conversation we did earlier. I always try to deliver the highest quality as soon as possible. Sometimes I finish before the deadline.
- Who are your typical clients?
Writers, directors and DJs.
- How has your business changed over time?
Now that I am working on weekdays I don’t accept as many commissions as in the beginning. So basically, I don’t work as much at home as earlier. And the best think is about time passing that you become faster and faster every day as you develop your skills.
- How did you gain your first customers?
It was trough a competition five years ago. A writer Bradley Verdell asked me if I could join his competition, I just had to do a fast sketch from the description he gave me. There were a couple of other artist in the competition. The winner would do the final cover artwork his book Chadwick Yates and the Forest Labyrinth. I won, and since than I do the cover artwork for every new book in the series.
- 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 have never payed for advertising. I believe the best way to reach customers is to have an outstanding portfolio. If your skills are good enough to make money from them you don’t need anything else. Be patient and customers will start finding you. After I started digital art from scratch in high school, it took me almost five years to start making money from my art. My portfolio was small but it did the job very well. After I finished high school I got my first commission.
- The best marketing move, you’ve done?
Keeping my portfolio on ArtStation and other sites fresh. You should take care of the channels you are promoting yourself on. I try to organize my works as good as possible. Posting new works regularly can improve your chance to appear in searches and to gain more attention. Mostly I attach work in progress files and reference material. If people can see your workflow they will come back more often. The best thing about Internet is that you can learn new tricks every day.
- The biggest marketing challenge that you deal with?
Attending the ILM Art Department Challenge last year. I knew it will be hell of a ride next to my full-time job but when you get the chance to show your work to the Art Directors at Industrial Light and Magic it’s worth the pain. I rushed home every day during the 3 round. I made it to the final round, and in the end, I got a favorited image by the Art Directors. My portfolio was updated with the works I did and next to the fame what came with this challenge I was very proud that I could finish in the final 200 people.
- Do you hire outsourcing service providers for services, which you believe are a waste of your time?
No, I get customers only naturally. They find me on the Internet and they send me e-mails or messages.
- 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?
On weekdays I work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. After I leave the office I don’t work, I go home and have some rest, go out with friends or try to live my private life. On freelance stuff I only work on weekends, and only a couple of hours. In this industry where you have to be creative from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 5 days in a week, you have to take relaxing seriously. I can’t imagine new things when I am tired. And I also don’t want to burn out in my twenties. In my free time I like to go out, visit new places, do some sport, cook for my family and friends, take care of the flowers and plants in the garden, watch movies etc. The most important thing is that I should not sit too much, I do sport regularly not just because of my shape but mostly because my back can’t really handle the hours I sit before the computer.
- Which books would you recommend to freelancers?
Artbooks, depends on everyone’s taste. I like movie and game artbooks. Currently my favorite ones are the Uncharted 4 and the Doom artbooks. These artists who were involved in these projects did a really amazing job. I also can’t wait to have the new Assassins Creed artbook.
- What is your current inspiration that drives you in the business?
Well, I want to do some concept stuff on a Star Wars movie. This is why I started to draw, when I was a kid. I grew up watching the original and the new trilogy, and I truly love all the 6 old movies. After this I want to tell my own stories, finish my own projects.
- What would you do differently if you would start again?
I wouldn’t change my decisions but I would tell myself not to worry as much and to be more patient during the first few years. Earning customers and learning won’t be faster if you push it. Learning art is a very hard and time consuming job.
- What would you advise someone who has an idea, but no money?
If you are really passionate about an idea, you have the courage and the will to show it to the world, the lack of money can’t stay in your way. One of my favorite quote sounds something like this: there are always multiple ways to get from A to B. If you have no money, you either wait and collect the money you need, or find another way to show it from less money. Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean worse. If you take a look for example first movies of today’s famous directors, you can see great ideas which stay strong even today, shot from a ridiculously low budget. Another field: to create a unique photoshoot you don’t need a million dollar camera, you need an idea and you can’t buy it for money, you have to find it in your mind.
- What was the best business advice you received?
Always have a written contract. It doesn’t matter if it is an e-mail or a paper. Spoken words disappear.
- Do you have an online resource which you use regularly? Which one?
Mostly I use Google to find references but I also use textures.com and mattepaint.com.
- What do you often dream about when you’re not working?
I dream about visiting new places. Travelling is the best thing can happen to your tired mind it can refresh your creativity. Usually I love reading as well, it can travel your mind far away from everyday problems. I love sci-fi, now I am reading the last book of Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series. These books are truly amazing, the world, which Jack McDevitt created is rich and absolutely believable.
- The place where you find your peace?
It is my home office. I’ve got my own empire in the basement, it’s a calm room with a huge vintage factory desk, which I renovated, it’s very beautiful, I love working here.
- Top 3 mobile apps on your smartphone?
Messenger, a public transportation checker app of Budapest (BKK Futar) and Nike Run club.
- What do you do in your free time?
I love to go hiking, I go running once a week, take care of my small garden, I also love to cook and read.
- Your last vacation?
I was in Moscow. It’s a huge city, really huge. To get into the city center from our hotel was one hour, and we used only one metro line (and we went through only the half of the stations on that line). And the architecture is amazing, very different that I used to see in Budapest. They have much mare space between streets, and building blocks. Literally there are small forest between the buildings. This is why it doesn’t seem overcrowded despite the fact that 15 million people lives there. Of course, you can realize it when you enter the metro. Luckily, I was there after the end of winter so the weather was amazing to explore the city.
- Business plans for the future?
Next year I am planning to learn more about the technical side of matte painting, compositing in Nuke with advanced projections. In this industry you have to be multi skilled and you have to update yourself regularly about the new softwares. The workflow changes very fast so we have to keep ourselves updated if we don’t want to lose our position.
- Your plans for the future?
I would like to go abroad. My dream is to work in San Francisco or Vancouver, but London would be good too. We will see.