We took some time to chat to Ravi Vasavan, an Australian freelancer who's recently moved to London, where he is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded designers in the city. Keep an eye out for him on Availo when we launch in September, he's going to be under a lot of demand by then.
Hey Ravi, so why did you start freelancing?
I started out freelancing in Melbourne and Sydney as I liked how I could pick and choose clients and jobs. When my partner and I made the decision to move to London, it was the obvious choice, rather than committing to a full-time role, I wanted to get a feel of the design scene in London to find out what ticks for me.
How long have you been lancing for now?
Formally around 6 years, with several full-time roles throughout my 10 year career.
What have you improved in recently?
I recently had a stint at DesignStudio where I was working within a team to focus on specific deliverables, in the past I have mainly worked with smaller agencies and studios where I would be the sole member on a project, covering all of the deliverables. Working within the team was a fantastic experience as well as working more iteratively to get feedback from the internal team and the client along the way rather than designing it completely prior to presenting.
So almost less waterfall and more agile?
Not in the traditional sense, but yes, agile. The process led me to think that I may would like to work with startups in the future. I have never done in the past as I mostly worked with agencies and studios that works through a project in a more traditional way. I want to learn and experience more of the agile design process that is prevalent amongst startups.
What interesting projects have you worked on recently?
In the past 6 months I have been quiet on the work front as my partner and I was packing up our lives in Australia to travel through Europe and relocate to London. But prior to that, I had a long-term freelance with The Company You Keep where I got to work on several projects, the most interesting being a collaboration between Broadsheet (Australia’s Timeout) and Stella Artois which required branding, custom hub design for Broadsheet’s website, multiple printed deliverables and spatial design to support Stella Artois marquees at Polo in the City events across 5 cities in Australia. This project gave me my first taste of large-scale campaign that included spatial design.
How to you get work? Do you do much self-promo?
In the past few years, I mainly found work through former and current clients referring me to another. I have never done a proper self-promotion but now that I am in an entirely new city, London, I’ve been thinking of how to put my name out there so I am looking at working up a self-promotion thingamajig!
It must be pretty intimidating walking into a new city and needing to build a network from scratch. How have you found it so far?
Yes, I have been only here just over a month now. I was fortunate enough to know some wonderful people, one of them helped me to land a freelance stint with DesignStudio. Could have not asked for a better start in a new city. Currently, I am using the downtime to sort out a flat, updating my portfolio, establishing further connections. Once that is all done, I will be more than ready to step out and tackle the London design scene.
I also have some ongoing client work which I brought over from Australia. A safety net, to keep me afloat if anything goes haywire here. Don’t think that’ll be the case, there seems to be heaps of opportunities going here.
Apart from finding work, what other challenges are you trying so solve at the moment?
On the design side, I actually want to figure out what stream of design to focus on. Branding has been always on the forefront, whether it be digital or traditional but I have always adapted and moved through disciplines when needed but going forward I believe that it would benefit me to focus on a specific discipline. So that’s the challenge I am trying to tackle here in London, by freelancing for several studios in the near future.On the design side, I do actually want to figure out what stream of design to focus on, that is part of why I want to keep freelancing, especially here, to find out what I love doing. I know branding is my main game, but my portfolio covers a lot of ground, I want to specialise. Thats a challenge Im tackling now.
So in 3 years time, what sort of stuff do you want to be working on?
Working within arts, culture and fashion would be great. As you can imagine, being born deaf, the visual culture is a huge part of my life and I want it to be fully integrated into my work as a designer. That said, arts, culture and fashion is a hard area to break into! Time to work on it.
Any top tips for new or soon-to-be freelancers?
Get out there, meet with your fellow freelancers. Put your name into the mix and have a proper folio on the ready, always. And make sure that folio is tailored to what you want to do/explore more of.
What software you find yourself using?
In order of usage: Indesign, Illustrator, Sketch, Cinema 4D. And I recently started using Marvel, before that I was using Invision.
Why the switch away from Invision?
Curiosity, I wanted to see what Marvel could offer in this area.
What kit do you carry when freelancing?
I’m super light today as it’s sweltering and I only had a short walk to get to meet with you. So, you’ll see that I have my bare essentials with me, macbook, notebooks etc.
And finally, what do you think of Availo?
It comes across as a great platform which was thoughtfully put together by people who have years of freelance experience, knowing exactly how cumbersome it can be for both sides - freelancers and the companies that are wanting to hire them.
It’ll help us, freelancers to bridge that gap, take away the requirement of communicating through multiple channels to land a freelance stint and potentially allow us to build direct relationships with more agencies, companies and studios along the way.