PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come with running a creative business.
I don't know about you, but my week could definitely do with a hefty dose of cuteness! As luck should have it, this week we are interviewing illustrator Aniger Menezes behind the brand Mae Design, whose whimsical and colourful work scores top marks on the cuteness scale!
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
My first proper job was working as a Public Relation in a multinational corporation. It feels like a lifetime ago.
Has art always been in your blood?
Yes, Always. It has always been an incredible driving force in my life and influenced almost everything I did and do. It is the most natural and easiest way for me to express.
What’s your main creative discipline and how did you get started in it?
Every day I try to expose myself to everything, everywhere I am and go. New art, books, music, paintings, I do it all the time and that is the best way I find to get myself inspired.
Do you see yourself as introverted or extroverted, and does being either affect the way you work?
Extroverted! Being an extrovert, I am able to communicate better with others and help me to get my ideas flowing faster. I like to make eye contact, smile, maybe chat if there's an opportunity, these are the little positive moments in my day.
What is your favourite kind of commission, and why?
I get commissions from small companies to design their brand identity. I love seeing the final product coming to life.
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
In my view, you never know when you are ready. What drives you to start a business is the motivation to do what you like. I wanted to work for myself and I wanted to make beautiful things.
How did you go about starting your own business?
10 years ago my husband had a great job offer and we moved from Brazil to Dubai. At that time, my daughter was a 1-year-old and I had the opportunity to split my time between her and my illustrations. In fact, my daughter was my biggest inspiration to start my business as I started selling my illustrations to my friends and later to small retail stores in Dubai.
How did you secure your first clients?
Voice of mouth helped me a lot in Dubai and then when I moved to Germany my first stockists came from a small exhibition I did in my community.
What is your typical daily routine like?
Each day can be so different. But most of my days starts after dropping off my daughter at school. I start by 9h and it goes late into the night. I structure my day around current projects and deadlines and activities may vary from staying at my home studio, meeting people, walking around my town or other villages for inspiration.
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
Creativity, Drive, and Discipline, although Creativity and Discipline may not work in harmony all the time.
How does being an extrovert help or hinder you when it comes to business?
As an extrovert, you have a tendency to focus more on the human side of the business but lack the patience to dedicate more time to the bureaucratic side.
Do you have a favourite medium or technique?
Everything I create starts off a simple drawing made with a pen in my sketchbook. Then I go digital and these doodles become artwork.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
Starting my business. I have had so many mistakes along the way, but I wouldn't change any of it.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
Yes!!! All the time. I am always working on new ideas I even dream about them.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
Not at all. I can spend hours drawing and getting inspired.
How do you relax?
I love lazing with my family, I love snuggles with my kid, I love catching up for intimate dinners with friends, I love listening to music and I love that the sun nearly always shines in my new hometown in Portugal. It may sound funny, but I also feel relaxed when I get lost in my inspirations.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere! I am constantly being inspired with everything I see and normally have too many ideas running around my mind. I can't live without my iPhone nowadays.
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Be curious, fearless and flexible. Try to let things take their course, and learn from your mistakes. Be patient, you are not in a race, you building your life.
What would you like to be remembered for?
For the good moments my illustrations created in people's life.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
My first order…it enabled all that came later.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The amazing emails and comments I get from people who buy my illustrations and follow my work on line.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
Being a creative person and business person takes up two totally different parts of my mind. I don't have a lot of time in my day, so the biggest challenge I have is learning how to focus better, and schedule my time better. I am constantly working on it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever got It is quite simple and powerful: You, and only you, should set the value of your talents and ideas. As an entrepreneur, we have to get used to the fact that quite often you will be faced with an offer that seems less than the value of your ideas. That is business.
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person, who would you choose?
Da Vinci would be fascinating.
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