Alex Asfour is a Miami based designer and illustrator with a passionate for all things art, design and travel. CreativPaper caught up with Alex to discuss his typical working day, family and travel.
What is the first thing you do before starting your working day?
Well, the first thing i do as soon as I wake up is to check my email to make sure there are no urgent messages or job inquiries that require immediate responses. Then, after consuming a couple shots of espresso, i will either resume with emails or if i have time, go for a quick run. I actually do most of my design work at night and my day is spent with administrative tasks.
How many hours per week do you currently commit to your craft? And how do you find a balance between your administration tasks and design work?
It's hard to determine my hours as they vary so much. Freelancing is very much a feast and famine field. Sometimes I’ll be swamped and work around 70 hours and some weeks I’m completely free of client jobs and can work on personal things. In terms of balancing design and administration, I’ve come up with a system where i spend my days with email, shipping, and other administrative work and I’ll design at only night. This allows me to concentrate more and not be distracted by incoming calls or messages. I feel most creative at night so for me it works well.
Is it true your mother inspired you to work in the creative industry?
Yes, my mother, while not a professional artist, has made art her entire life. Whether it be sketching, watercolours or needlepoint she showed me that anyone can be an artist and not be afraid to experiment and try new things.
Your love of travel is evident in your illustrations, what have been your favourite countries you visited to date and why?
Yes, travel is a passion of mine and it informs my work greatly. I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit with my parents when i was growing up. They took us all around Europe, North America, and the Middle East and it’s been really fun returning to places i visited as a child and to get a new perspective on the city. I know this sounds cliche, but, i finally got a chance to visit Paris last summer and it was very inspiring for me. From the architecture of the city to all the amazing works of art there, it really super charged my creative battery. I’ve also recently visited Stockholm and Prague and they were also incredible cities.
Stockholm is definitely on my list of cities i would personally like to visit, can you share any unique finds you may have come across whilst in the city or quirky eateries you would like to share?
Stockholm should definitely be on everyones list of cities to visit, its one of my favourite cities ever. Besides the fact that everyone there speaks perfect english and the people are incredibly nice, the city itself is a work of art. The balance between old and new architecture is incredible and the public spaces are very well designed. Not to mention the great museums, shops, and parks. The most interesting thing I discovered in Stockholm was their Metro Stations, which should be considered museums. Each station in the main area has its own unique design, colour, and subject matter. They are really amazing and I found myself riding the metro up and down just to see each one. The food there is also nice but it is a little pricey to eat and drink in Stockholm so I found myself often grabbing quick smaller meals such as kebabs, french hot dogs, and of course the meatballs.
Alex, can you describe the creative process from an idea into the final result?
Well, after an idea pops into my head i immediately start sketching really rough, crude sketches. They are simply to figure out composition and to make sure when i jump on the computer and start building the design, it will work. Then, I rough out all the shapes and build the elements of the design slowly adding more and more details as i go along. I finish by tweaking colours and adding some additional textures and I’m done.
The colours in your illustrations are dreamy.. Is choosing the right colour palette important to the overall artistic vision of that piece?
Thank you. Yes, colour is very important to me. Sometimes the design itself will look great but the colours won’t be working. At this point i will tweak and play around them until I’m happy. Sometimes i’ll grab colours from photographs or use websites that offer colour schemes to help me find the right tone.
As a professional illustrator and designer how do you utilise social media to your advantage?
For me as a freelancer with no agent to help me get work, social media is extremely important. It doesn’t matter how good your work is, if people aren’t seeing it than it’s not helping you. Instagram has been a great way to share my work and to get new jobs. I do my best to stay on top of it and share as often as i can.
As a self-employed freelancer how do you stay motivated and organised? Do you ever suffer from doubts particular during quite periods of the year?
As a freelancer, I never seem to need motivation as I have a burning desire to constantly design and create things. While sometimes I feel like i need Inspiration, motivation never seems to be an issue for me. Absolutely, working alone as a freelancer can be incredibly tough, especially in quiet, slow times. Luckily for me, I have my personal project, The World Travel Poster Collection, that keeps me busy. I just finished my 80th city and I’m hoping to reach 100. This, along with my online store keeps me pretty busy.
Your client list is very impressive, you have worked with The Washington Post, TimeOut NY and Disney to name just a few how did these opportunities come to fruition for you?
Most if not all of my jobs have come to me because of my World Travel Poster Series. This has been a three year (and counting) passion project for me where I’ve been making travel posters for many cities around the world. It gotten quite popular now so it’s been great in helping companies find me and giving me opportunities to work with cool clients.