Saturday 18, 02.2017

From illustration to running your own shop – Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica. Wall deco art stickers

Ana Banica, aka Ana Ban Ana, is a Romanian designer and illustrator based in Bucharest.

I met her last year, when we attended a painting workshop together, and  I enjoyed seeing her at work and watching her process. Her style is simple and clean and her attention to detail is amazing.

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica. Wall deco art stickers Even if she only recently started branding herself as a freelance illustrator, under the name of Ana Ban Ana, she’s been in the business for a long time. Her wall art studio, Cai Verzi Pe Pereti, is what she is most well known for, and it’s also her dream come true (that of being able to make a living from her illustrations). If you live in Bucharest, you might have met her at various design fairs where she sells her wall stickers and wallpapers that she draws and produces herself, in her small studio.

She’s pretty much a one-woman-show, and I know that always switching from creative mindset to business isn’t easy, so I wanted to find out how she does it.

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica

 

You’ve only recently started being a freelance illustrator, right? What did you do before that?

Well, before going on paper (officially), I used to transform sketches and ideas into wall stickers. Actually I am still doing it.
And before that I used to be an interior designer and I draw a lot since I was very young.

 

How did you learn to hone your skills and be able to draw as you do now? Did school help a lot, or was is more or a self-taught effort?

Firstly, it helped a lot that I had creative parents who understood the importance of expressing myself and cultivated this skill I have. Later, following the arts school was also very useful. And fun!

 

How do you find ideas to draw about? What inspires you?
 
My life, my dreams, cats, people, memories, emotions… It is a very long list (smiles).

 

You have a pretty easy to spot style, using gouache, clean colors, very simple lines and flat shapes. Where did this come from? Did working with vectors influence you? 

It surely did. To be more precise, working with wall stickers really influenced my style. When creating a wall decal, I have to work out the best way to minimize details from a sketch in an expressive way, to lessen the use of vinyl and also the efforts of pasting it on the wall. So, it’s a more complex process than it seems.

I had no idea it would also influence my style of drawing and painting (before the wall stickers experience I used many small details and mixed techniques), but now I am discovering a new me.

 

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica. Wall deco art stickers

How often do you draw? Do you keep a sketchbook?

I wish I could draw daily, but having to take care of my business too, it is not possible. Yet! But I do have sketchbooks and when I don’t have time to draw I just write quickly the idea I had, so I can be creative later! (laughs)

 

How do you promote yourself as an illustrator?

Right now I use Instagram, Facebook and Behance. I also have a very nice profile on Colorhood website of art prints.
But I plan to have a website as soon as possible.

 

What are your streams of income, as a freelance illustrator?

As I was saying before, Colorhood sells prints and I take commissions. I have some collaborations on article illustration or event posters and I also sell originals. Right now I am looking forward to finish a very nice project with a Czech author on an illustrated poetry book.

 

Cai Verzi Pe Pereti / Green Wall Horses or “dreaming about green horses on the walls” means dreaming of incredible or impossible ideas (so they say in Romania).

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica

 

You have your own business, Cai Verzi Pe Pereti (can you help translate the meaning in English?), a shop where you sell your art in the form of wall stickers and wallpapers. How did you start it?

Cai Verzi Pe Pereti / Green Wall Horses or “dreaming about green horses on the walls” means dreaming of incredible or impossible ideas (so they say in Romania).

Launching this project is proving to myself and others that you really can make dreams come true. It was the idea of being a creative freelancer when just a few people thought it was possible (this was in 2009, in Romania). Me and my ex-partner, Bianca, decided that working in a design office is not enough, so we just went for it.

Launching this project is proving to myself and others that you really can make dreams come true.

 

How long before you were making a profit?

In the beginning we didn’t have much money to invest. At first, a friend gave us a cutter plotter when heard our plan. We made the online shop with some designs and promoted ourselves through friends and Facebook. During this time we also practiced interior and graphic design to get money. So I don’t have a very realistic view on investments :)) It just developed organically.

After three quite hard, but fun years, the business started to run without help from other activities.

Now, after seven years, Cai Verzi Pe Pereti is a very popular brand and I also have enough experience to know how to plan my investments and work. I want to keep it at a small scale and maybe, in the future I will find a new partner so I can draw all day long (laughs).

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica

 

How much time do you spend running the business? And how do you deal with taking orders, preparing the deliveries etc?

It depends on the time of year. In spring, autumn and before winter holidays it’s almost a full time job. During the rest of the year is more of a part time job. And I like this rythm of activity very much!

All orders come through the online shop and through the Etsy shop. Most products are pre-ordered, I make them in my studio and then just delivering them in white cardboard boxes printed with installation steps and product details. I think packaging is very important and I am very proud of my design for it.

But the most fun thing about the process is getting in touch with my clients! I love it!

From illustration to running your own shop - Interview with freelance illustrator Ana Banica

 

Do you deliver abroad as well?

Sure, via Romanian Post. Sometimes they get to the destination a bit late, but at the end I get lovely reactions and very pretty photos from happy customers!

 

Business is going well as long as you love your work, always create new stuff and make many to-do lists that you really follow!

 

How do you combine creativity with the business side, since these are two different mindsets and it’s not easy making the switch between them?

I guess I just created my own system that doesn’t make a very big difference between the two. Business is going well as long as you love your work and you always create new stuff and make many to-do lists that you really follow!

 

What lessons did this experience teach you (business-wise)?

Smile, wave and reinvest :))

 

What are the best selling illustrations? And why do you think that is?

Best seller is “Gone with a balloon” –  a boy and a girl flying with balloons and dresses in a frenchy style. They are very cute and very cheerful, perfect for kids rooms, but also for young people’s walls.

After this one come the “Turn off the light!” stickers – mementos for the light switch with night animals – owl or bat – and glow-in-the-dark elements. They are really cute, fun and useful!

 

Do you have new plans for your shop in the near future?

I like it as it is, but, as I was saying earlier, maybe find someone to deal or help with the business work, so I would concentrate more on creation.

 

What does a day in your life look like?

Coffee and morning chilling – online work and communication – some work in the studio and/or drawing – afternoon chilling and maybe tea or going to art events – meeting friends or watching a movie or reading – party or good sleep and dreaming a lot!
I am a morning person, I never work at night.

My advice for other creatives? Maybe the basics: work, work, work. Because we’re artists, it’s fun!

 

Are you connected to the local art community? And has it helped?

Yes. Definitely!  I think is one of the most important things for an artist / creator /designer/ art and beauty lover.

 

What other illustrators do you admire?

Many! Blanca Gomez I guess is my favourite. And Victoria Semykina, Yelena Bryksenkova, Aitch, Madalina Andronic, Naomi Wilkinson and many many others.

 

Any helpful resources to share (sites/blogs you read, books/magazines, podcasts)?

Oops, not really (laughs)! Instagram?

 

If you had an advice for other artists out there who want to make it on their own, what would that be?

I have no idea! Maybe the basics: work, work, work. Because we’re artists, it’s fun!

 

See more of Ana’s work on her: Featured profile | Shop | Etsy | BehanceFacebook page | InstagramColorhood shop

About Miruna

Hi, my name is Miruna Sfia. I'm 28 and I'm a self-employed graphic designer and illustrator living in Bucharest, Romania. I created Friday Illustrated because I wanted to be able to learn from some of the best people in my industry.

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