Hi Moni, would you tell us a little about yourself and how you started in design and illustration.
I go by Moni, my full name is Monica Yael Garcia Montemayor. Creativity and a strong work ethic have always been a part of my life. Even before I could pick up a pencil and write my own name I was making swans and dinosaurs with aluminum foil. As I got older I found myself doodling everywhere (books, homework assignments, paper napkins, dirt, steamed mirrors – even my own feet). It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I stumbled upon graphic design. I finally had some hope and a creative career choice that that didn’t involve going broke and cutting off my ear.
Did you get a BFA or where you a self taught designer and illustrator?
I went to the University of Texas in Austin and got a B.F.A. in Design. I believe not everyone needs to have a higher education to become a designer or illustrator, but for me it made sense. I grew up in a small town and Google was just starting out, so my knowledge and resources of art and design were limited. I needed formal training and an environment that emphasized a higher level of thinking. However, most of the techniques and web-related tools I use today came after I graduated. That’s the thing: you should never stop learning in the creative field. You have to stay relevant with ever-changing trends and technology to be valuable.
Is your family supportive of what you do?
Definitely. But there have been concerns along the way. My mom is a teacher and my dad is a computer engineer, so they’ve had steady, well-paying careers ever since they finished their education. I on the other hand had to seattle for a paid internship when I finished college. It took two years of late night tutorials, self-initiated projects, and networking for me to land a job with a design firm. I had to prove to my parents I was in this for the long run and wasn’t going to give up when things weren’t going my way. I understand, though. They are only looking out for my well being.
How would you describe your personality (how do these characteristics help you when you meet clients / when you’re designing)?
I’ve been told I’m passionate, curious, and you know… a little odd. Any time I meet new clients, I tend to interject with silly jokes and past experiences. I’m not always sure how people will respond, but I can’t help doing it. I’m an oversharer. In regards to design, my curiosity leads me to research and explore all possibilities. I love what I do, so I always strive to do what’s in a project’s best interest.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
Like most creative people out there, I search the vast corners of the internet (e.g. Designspiration and Vimeo), but I also take time off the screen and hit the gym. Physical exercise not only helps me stay healthy, but spikes brain activity and fires all sorts of neurons. I feel better prepared for complex situations, and find myself able to work through “designer’s block” much faster. Creativity is a muscles and we have to stimulate it – it’s science.
What kind of projects are your favourite?
I love working on personal projects with my fiance, Oliver. He develops, I design, and we both do the writing. It’s seriously a perfect match. Our projects range from silly apps to large scale sites that cover topics we’re both passionate about. We may argue along the way, but we always keep an open mind.
Have you taken any big risks in your career?
I’ve taken my fair share since I finished college, but the most recent is quitting my well-paying job, going back to freelance, and starting an online shop with my fiance. I came to the realization that I hate getting comfortable. I want independence, and constant challenges that help me grow creatively. Adding a shop to my site was a step I wanted to take many times before, but never took the full leap until now.
Oliver and I are still refining and adding to our shop’s inventory, but so far we’ve gotten positive feedback. Which is relieving, since we’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat, and money into our products. Every step we take is a new experience. It’s frightening at times, but also exciting because we’re learning something new during the process. I’m just so grateful to be doing what I love with my fiance. He’s always been my supporter and mentor through moments of uncertainty.
Is a designer’s worst client himself/herself?
If you don’t have a clear goal or a set timeline then yes, you can be your own worst client. Working on a personal project gives you the opportunity to experiment and have a loose schedule, but beware: purpose, communication, and time management are still necessary. You need to manage your time and expectations or you’ll find yourself having an ongoing project that’s never ready to launch (yup, still guilty).
What advice would you give to a freelance graphic designer/illustrator starting out on how to find clients?
It’s a mixture of talent, connections, and luck. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. All I can say is put yourself out there and accept your weirdness. You’re a creative, after all. Self-promotional pieces are a great way to to show clients what you can do, and how you think.
Thank you Moni, to see more of her work and her products go to moni.is