Check out this week’s freelancer insides interview with Fekry Helal, an illustrator living in Austria. Here, Fekry gives us an insight into his world as a freelancer, including his proudest projects, what triggered him to pursue a freelance career, and what advice he’d give to other freelancers!
Hi Fekry! It’s a pleasure for us to have you in our Insides series. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an Illustrator and Communication Designer living and working in Vienna, Austria. My practice draws from both disciplines in an attempt to create succinct and meaningful things. Things, in this context, largely referring to branding systems, illustrations and visual narratives as well as printed matter. I dig Buster Keaton and find cows exceptionally irritating.
What exactly made you want to become an illustrator and designer?
I have always been intrigued by the process of making sense of things through imagery. Curiously, I suppose, my career took off when I fell in love with books too. Advancing the idea of all communication being narrative and experiencing the benefits of doing so my practice opened up to a new and exciting range of influences. In this sense I approach each project, whether it is a single image, an identity or packaging, as an act of storytelling.
Coming from a background in Graphic and Communication Design I went for a Master’s Degree in Illustration in London, realising the synergetic potential of these disciplines, i.e. marking out unique opportunities for imagery to engage and understanding how this can be brought to bear in and on a more comprehensive communication system.
I have always been intrigued by the process of making sense of things through imagery
And why did you decide to become a freelancer? How long have you been freelancing?
I am keen on the idea of independence, being fully responsive to schedules, routines and processes that really work for me. I also appreciate the close and intimate relationship with clients. I have been freelancing on and off for some years now, but went full-time not so long ago, a few months. It works.
Was it difficult for you to start freelancing? Did you face many problems? Could you share with our readers the most important lessons you learned on the way?
I would say it was more exciting than difficult, although the initial decision was intimidating. In any case most of my day-to-day concerns remain creative ones, and those I like best. So far, important lessons along the way involve pricing, time management and legal issues. Life certainly is strange.
What do you love most about your work? Is there one particular project that you are especially proud of?
I love so much about it! The great conceptual scheming, yet eventual sweating over formal details? I suspect I am especially proud of a self- initiated project called ‘The Trouble With Sweethearts’. It is an ongoing series of fantastic black and white flower illustrations playfully exploring the problem of free choice when put together. Its ultimate success lies in its succinctness. It is the best kind of silly, losing nothing of its profundity.
The Trouble with Sweethearts:
If you would search for your profile on Google, which are the three keywords you would type in the search bar?
sweetheart, hat, yeah!
How does your working routine look like and how do you manage the pressure of meeting deadlines?
I get up and have a cup of tea. I have cups of tea all day through. Workwise I try to slice the day into time frames correlating with different objectives, providing me with something tangible, gradually defogging the strange way towards a coherent outcome. I manage the pressure with cups of tea. Then I fall asleep.
Besides your work, what are you passionate about?
A million things. Language, silent movies, other movies, tea, the meaning of it all, my hat, music, … Recently I discovered my love for cooking.
What tools are essential to your life?
My hat is essential. Crayons are too. Nail varnish has become inescapable. My laptop is necessary.
Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
Think of Sisyphus happy.
Where to find Fekry Helal
All images were provided by Fekry Helal ©.