High on Happiness – Interview with Alicia Souza

 

It was our pleasure to meet Alicia Souza at the art exhibition of Balraj KN. We had the pleasure of having a long chat with her, made more comfortable by the easy and relaxed setting of the event.

The best kind of job in the world is when you get paid to do something you absolutely love.

She considers herself lucky, though a sizable part of her job is not illustrating, but also managing the business. It involves talking to clients, accounts, working on briefs that are not always exciting. She says sometimes she needs to draw even when she truly just doesn’t feel like it. Being a commercial illustrator, she needs to work with both her heart and also her head. When it comes to working with clients and making a brief work, it is a lot of the latter. She realised that it’s a business where she needs to make money and also build her career.

When I asked her for an interview, she very graciously accepted. Below are the excerpts from both the interaction and her responses:

1. How did you start a career as an illustrator? Was this by default or by design?
I was trained as a graphic designer but the minute I finished university, I knew I wanted to get into illustration. There were a lot of twisty turns before I actually landed up as a freelancing illustrator, something that I didn’t think was ever going to happen.

 

2. You have been an entrepreneur for the last couple of years, describe your journey thus far
It’s been exciting, challenging, scary and extremely satisfying. It’s truly been a roller coaster ride.

Starting out is always a bit hard. I created a niche by just doing and doing a lot of it. I can almost compare it to digging a hole. When you start digging, it’s too small to notice but if you keep at it, you have a hole that only you’re standing it and more people can see it. I had to keep doing a lot of things that I wasn’t too keen on doing, like talking about money or drawing things that aren’t exactly my cup of tea. Same with the business/online store. I think I got lucky with the online store because I have a partner who keeps me on my toes. It took a lot of self-convincing because I really wasn’t sure I could handle another responsibility. But I could! So sometimes taking risks also pay off.

It’s been exciting, challenging, scary and extremely satisfying. It’s truly been a roller coaster ride.

 

3. Your illustrations are based on a narrative/story, what inspires you?
I think I draw things like I would write in a diary. Just thoughts, events, happenings and feelings that I have throughout my day. I guess that’s why it is what it is. So anything happening in my life or things that I see and do are my inspiration.

 

4. Do designers also have a block (like the writer’s block)? (if so) How does a designer get over it?
I think if you do it enough, it’s almost habitual so you don’t get blocks. But you definitely get moods. Sometimes you feel like drawing way more than other times. Everyone has their method of madness to get over the ‘nahhh’ feelings. I just do other productive things and mostly deadlines help force you into the mood even if you don’t feel like it. Sometimes just a walk in the park helps.

 

5. I’ve read in one of your posts that you are self-taught, what is your method of learning?
I learn by doing and doing a lot. If you’re not learning about illustrating, you’re learning about how to schedule projects, the most efficient way to do a job or about people in general.

 

6. Your body of work comes across as ‘Happy’ and you as a happy person. Are there times when you are sad, or unhappy and just want to shut the world out? How do you deal with sadness?

Like any human, I have a wealth of emotions. I don’t feel sadness as much as I get angry. When something bad happens in the world, someone passes away, horror-stricken event, whatever the calamity, I tend to feel rage rather than melancholy.

Having said that, I do have sad streaks. And unlike some artists and writers who can create beautiful works from those emotions, I don’t even remotely feel like drawing then. Please note that sadness is very different from depression. I’m talking about the general sadness that sneaks in every now and then. Here are a few things I do when I get in this state:

  1. Do whatever I feel like doing- I would rarely feel like drawing but I truly enjoy just inking pencil sketches and would scout out drawings that are yet to be inked. This is my sort of ‘peace’ and ‘meditation’ that gets my brain almost still without thought.
  2. Play my favourite music- I ADORE country music, I listen to it both when I’m happy and also when I’m sad.
  3. Confront the sadness- I don’t like leaving things in the air. If I had a tiff with someone, I clear it up. With people it’s easy to just take a deep breath and confront the source of the sadness.
  4. Time- And then there are things you don’t have control over that just need time to get better. Understand that things DO get better with time.
  5. A box of you- Another thing is knowing what you like and makes you happy. I sometimes like cleaning or baking. Sometimes just getting away for a while. Or getting a pedicure.
  6. Let yourself be- I think it’s ok to be sad sometimes. It’s even normal. Whether you need to shed a tear or two. Be nice to yourself and I think the worst thing would be to beat yourself up about being a little down. When you know it’s ok to be sad, you can let yourself be happy.

Oh! I forgot to mention, sometimes happiness is a sleep away. Literally, some days can just be a drag and understand that when you go to bed at night; so when you wake up the next day, the sun is shining brighter just for you!

Charlie is Happy. And Adorable.  Image credit: @the.aliciasouza

7. What is your advice to a budding designer, who wants to pursue a career in design?
For design, it’s to learn the basics before you explore. For illustrators, it’s just to draw and draw some more.

 

8. You are a celebrity & an Influencer, what is your opinion about influencer marketing? (Please detail this)
I’m really particular about what I post on my social media platforms. I’m really picky about promoting and if I do, I make sure it’s a product I like or a service I believe in, or I politely decline. When I do allow for promotion on my posts, I make sure my audience is aware that I’m working with the company and I have a limit of how many posts I allow to be promoted in a given time frame. I also always write the text content that goes along with posts. This, I believe, makes for real-ness and respect. I respect my audience, their time and their attention.

I respect my audience, their time and their attention.

 

9. You mentioned that you endorse/write about the products/services you use or what you truly believe in, can you please detail it for our readers?
Like I mentioned, I only post when I’ve had a chance to interact with a product or know about the service enough to talk about it. Everything I post about is something I experienced and so it’s very important that it’s the same with the promotions I make as well.

 

10. You are a pet parent, what is your message to other pet parents? (People keep abandoning their pets once they get old or when they are unwell…)
The only message I have to a pet parent is that your pet is the non-human child you brought into your family. Treat them like your own.


11. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Please do so 🙂

Get enough sleep 🙂

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