By now most of you would be familiar with our friend Eliza Svikulis - and if not her, most certainly her work! She’s whipped up everything from our 1800’s inspired logo, to our in-store wrapping paper, with a couple of our Christmas magazines and a whole bunch of promo work to her name too! Eliza is a professional letterer/ illustrator and graphic designer, working for clients ranging from big name advertising to local cafes and start-up companies. She’s become an invaluable member of the Dream Team!
Get an insight into this creative mind below:
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up?’
A clown! I was obsessed with everything about them- the make up, the clothes, the slapstick and the magic.
What is your career background?
My childhood was filled with drawing, sewing and making things and I did all the art subjects through school. From a young age I was particularly fond of practicing my handwriting, and found myself naturally leaning towards graphics and lettering. I moved on to Melbourne Uni where I studied a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing/Visual Art) and spent 6 years or so there before I realised it was the wrong course for me. I’d lost the desire to draw by then, something I’d always done, so I had some time off and did a whole bunch of part time work; mostly waitressing (where I learnt to chalk specials boards) and admin. I even tried apprentice signwriting (stickering, not painting) and it was enough to make me realise I was desperate to pick up a pencil again. I decided to take a chance with Graphic Design at RMIT Tafe, and knew within the first couple of classes I’d finally found my place. After graduating I did the odd freelance job, slowly building up my client base and adding to my portfolio. Incidentally, one of the first jobs was the ‘Pretty Wild’ logo, since I’d met Jen (Creative Director at Big Dreams) at my grad exhibition. Now I’ve got a couple of years of freelance under my belt, and I work from a shared studio space in Collingwood. Clients come from all over, and I try to maintain a good balance of hand-generated and computer-generated work. I am very much still figuring it all out, but enjoying the ride.
Where do you find your inspiration?
All over. Usually the words in the phrase will give me the most inspiration. The tone of voice used will sometimes lend itself to a particular historical period that I am able to reference in my visuals or embellishments. If I get totally stuck I might look to books, or vintage packaging, or even just go for a walk and glance at some signage/ clear my head (often that’s when the mental light bulbs go off).
With platforms like instagram already saturated with my line of work, I find it’s sometimes more important to block influences out, rather than go searching for them.
What’s your average weekly schedule look like?
The nature of freelance work is that it is completely unpredictable, so my schedule can vary a lot week to week. Everyday I try to get exercise in early, because I can never get to the end of my work to-do list, and often don’t leave the studio until late. On Mondays I try to knock out all my admin- making invoices, chasing invoices, quoting and emails. One afternoon early in the week I update a ‘What’s On’ chalkboard at the Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre. I’ll usually also dedicate one whole day a week to visiting the Big Dreams studio where I’ll update web banners, create promotional emails and occasionally work on a catalogue or poster. Then depending on the time of year, the rest of the week can be made up of a whole bunch of projects for different clients: live-lettering events, drawing gift tags/ painting baubles, chalk signage, graphic design and branding work, illustration etc. And then errands and more emails. It can be difficult to leave room for social/family time, but I’m doing my best to force a more strict routine this year.
Which of the Big Dreams projects you have worked on has been the most rewarding/ challenging?
Without a doubt the re-brand. It was an ambitious undertaking for me stylistically, but it was also my first major roll-out (lots of different applications; company stationery, bags, stamps, signage, wrapping, web graphics etc.) There were moments whilst digitally finessing the logo and the monogram when I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew, but I pushed through and we got there. I’m really happy with the end result and how well it aligns with Big Dreams’ brand objectives of timeless charm.
Best thing about being a part of the ‘Dream Team?’
Artistic freedom. Mary and Jen are really supportive of my concept choices, and usually leave me to ‘do my thang’. It makes my job a whole lot more fun when you can trust that the client will almost always be ‘on the same page’ as you.
Favourite Big Dreams product?
Grimm’s Spiel & Holz Rainbow tower. I play with it every time I’m in store... probably drives the shop girls crazy!
What can’t you live without?
My desk diary! I should move with the times and convert all of my processes to computer, but nothing keeps me on track like a good ol’ handwritten checklist. *Embarrassingly, I usually list a couple of things I’ve already done before beginning, so I can immediately cross them off and start the daily momentum*
Tools of the trade:
I work with a laptop and have an external display (Mac, with an anti-glare screen) so that I can plug in while I’m at the desk, but easily work remotely as well. The laptop is a Mac Book Pro with an extra hardrive in there to keep my machine running quickly. I also use a Wacom Intuos Pro - medium (drawing tablet), cordless keyboard, and two external harddrives to keep everything backed-up. In software I subscribe to the Adobe Suite usually floating between Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, and I also have Dropbox for easy file-sharing and further back up. I recently got some gold headphones- Beats Solo2 wireless, which are essential for cartwheeling down the studio floor while listening to music. Then there’s paints, brush pens, sketchbooks and tracing paper- I’m forever buying supplies. Next on the list is a scanner, a projector and a camera.
What’s your “big dream”?
Without sounding too cheesy, I feel like I’m already living the big one, so I only have small dreams to share. I’d like to focus more on my own brand, creating stationery, and prints. I’d like to expand my reach to larger commercial clients. I’d like to attempt bigger scale live-lettering installations: murals/ walls (watch this space). Seek further opportunities to use my skills for charity and social causes. Start sharing my craft in workshops and speaking engagements. And, ultimately, do all of that whilst striving for a better work-life balance.
You can check out more of Eliza's work on instagram HERE, or contact her personally at firstname.lastname@example.org