Radim - AKA Brand Nu - Is a creative director, designer, speaker and author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Book of Ideas. We grabbed a coffee with him to chat about what he has learned and enjoyed doing as a freelancer.
How did you get into freelancing and what made you take the leap?
I wanted to have bigger impact with my work and ideas. In my day job, I had a little say in the whole process. Although I was a Senior Designer I wasn’t always making the decisions. I was in the middle-bottom of the ‘food chain’ and I realised that there should be another way. At that time, I was spending sleepless nights working for my personal clients and I was having fun. I worked out I can go it alone and focus on more creatively satisfying work. Sometimes, we get stuck in a dead end just because we lose the direction of where we actually want to be. I saved up enough to cover the first three months of freelance in case it didn’t work out. I had a website and a small but growing clientele of regulars and an idea where I wanted to get to. I haven’t stopped since.
What are some of the most interesting projects you've worked on?
I am a big believer in saying ‘yes’ to pretty much every opportunity that presents itself. I hope I will never stop being curious about new possibilities, just as I have been in the past ten years. I like to get ‘invested’ in the work and there’s been many proud moments in a vibrant mix of many life-long memories. I work with multi-national brands, charities, start ups, music artists and family businesses, there’s always something interesting happening. The work itself has travelled around the world, I remember sitting in a taxi in Bali and having a conversation with the driver, we stopped at the set of traffic lights. When he asked what I did, I looked out of the window and pointed at a billboard with a product that I designed, I didn’t know it was going to be there, it was a crazy coincidence. Or when I travelled to a remote village in Uganda to see the branding work for a local charity which I did remotely from London. It’s the sense of true purpose that makes you feel inspired to keep going.
Are you planning on changing the type of work you do, or trying to get work in certain markets?
It is kind of hard to specify what I do, every week can be different. This year alone I worked on such a diverse range of projects. I designed an office interior, created interactive album artwork and a campaign, directed an ad campaign for WWF, designed a range of streetwear clothing, a few websites, some food product packaging, animated videos, custom typefaces and even a custom cake design! I will just keep seeing where it all takes me next.
What are your long term goals, where do you want to be in 3-5 years time?
I would like to get further into creative direction and work on better understanding of who the work is for. The majority of my work today is created to serve a simple commercial purpose and the bulk of that work isn’t actually made with the audience in mind. I would like to get a better understanding of the psychology of design, I want to use my creativity in helping others to achieve their objectives in the best possible way.
Do you usually work in-house or remote? Why? What are the benefits or problems?
I tend to work remotely from my own office as the majority of my clients are based around the world. I have built a lot of custom keyboard shortcuts and desire paths into my workflow that help achieve results in super fast time. I view the use of technology like playing a musical instrument, it needs to serve you, the one in charge. I prefer the remote option as I can focus on getting work done, especially when I have a number of projects on the go at the same time. This is definitely the benefit, when you work in-house you’ve got more chance of the cross-pollination of ideas and picking up new tips and tricks from others.
What equipment/tech do you use at home?
I try to keep my set up very simple and work with pre-set limitations to keep exploring the possibilities of what I have. I work off MacPro, 27” screen, Wacom Intuous 5 with Adobe Creative Cloud. Also, I used my iPhone and Adobe mobile apps whilst on the go. I aim to spend a lot of hours outside the office and to have time to think outside. The use of iPhone has sneaked into my workflow rather nicely - I worked backwards and found my way of integrating mobile apps into live projects. Normally you’d find a new tool, play with it and see what it can be good for later. I needed tools to help me solve problems, I went out and found them on my phone. I also became a new father recently, so when office time is limited I can try to work wherever I find myself away from my office.
How do you usually line up work? Do you do much self-promotion?
In March, I released ‘Book of Ideas - a journal of creative direction and graphic design’ which has been #1 bestseller on Amazon since the launch date. Previous books were to show potential clients the breadth of my folio, this time I wanted to give back to the community and publish a journal of how I navigate and observe the occasionally unsteady waters of the creative industry. Clients buy into the person sooner than their actual creative skills and these books are perfect tools of introduction. I keep pushing myself, so on top of being a designer, I became an author and regular public speaker. I love travelling and giving talks in the most extraordinary places. When the crowd is from a totally different background, it gives me a great pleasure to make them think differently about what’s possible.
What do you think are the main challenges freelancers face at the moment?
Personally, I believe in personal development in times of rapid changes. Only by learning new skills and knowledge you have the opportunity to keep up with what’s going on around us. Of course, if you want to design print brochures for the rest of your life there’s not much to worry about. However, our peripheral vision is bursting with so much readily available information, it’s criminal not to take time and explore it. Great designers aren’t made in the front of the computer screen, they have extra view of what’s going on which they bring to work every day.
Top tips for new freelancers or people wanting to go freelance?
Being a freelancer is a still about running a business just like any other creative agency. It’s great to be in charge of your hours and get up whenever you feel like, especially at the beginning, but it’s imperative to look after every aspect of your career. However by doing so, you will have a better understanding of the whole business set up which will benefit your work. You need to promote yourself to decision makers and not spend all day long spamming other Behance users with the link to your latest folio project. It’s the people down the road from you, they will commission the work that will keep your business afloat and moving forwards. Only by doing honest and top quality work then you will be able to grow as a person and as creative. Treat every project like a runner treats 200m race - give it your best shot, give it your all and then do it again until you start winning.
What do you think of Availo?
I think Availo has got the potential to be the leading platform for connecting the talent with the right opportunities. I see it as a the object of clarity in a very noisy and crowded place. There’s no such thing as an overnight success and I believe the hard work behind the scenes will be the reason why Availo will be a spearhead movement enabling the future of fantastic collaborative work.