My name is Eduardo Recife, I’m 35 years old from Brazil. I started to work as an illustrator full time back in 2002. Before that I was working at a Design Agency doing all sort of commercial projects, but I always had my personal works going on. At some point there were so many freelance jobs reaching my mailbox that I decided to quit the job and focus full time at my illustration career.
When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing, since I was a child, it was what I did best. I always knew that I wanted to work in the creative field, but I wasn’t sure what career that was. So I went to advertising school for 3 years and I got so frustrated that I left it before graduating. I then attended a Graphic Design school and it was also very disappointing, it was far from being what I expected from a school, but I graduated from it in 2005. I often consider myself self taught, because most of my work was pure practice and experimentation at home. I used to spend most of my time after school working on my personal projects and portfolio. The one thing I really enjoyed learning at school was photography and it is still one of my passions.
Would you recommend studying at art school?
That really depends on what sort of person you are. If you are very self disciplined and have a concrete idea of what you want to achieve with your work and how to get there, then maybe it’s not essential that you go to Art School. But like I said it’s very hard to answer this question, because it will also depend on what Art School you are talking about. If I could go back in time I would definitely have gone to a very good Art School abroad and learn all the things it took me several years to figure out on my own and also learn some new things that I still probably don’t know. Anyways, I think that even if you attend the best Art School in the world it is still up to you to be diligent in practicing and evolving your own work. There is no miracle school without effort. I always remember this quote from Michaelangelo:“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all”.
How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
Around 2 years.
Could you describe your typical day?
I get up around 8:00, and I prepare my green juice with lots of vegetables and fruits. Then I meditate for a while and read a book. After that I workout for around 45 minutes, eat something again and I start working around 11:00. At this time in the morning I try to take care of all emails, contracts, invoices, social media and all sorts of bureaucratic things. I have lunch around 1:30 and I resume working from 2:00 until around 8:30. After that I have dinner with my wife and we usually watch a movie. But this is not a completely fixed routine, sometimes I have to work all morning and all evening/night to make it to a deadline and there are days when I take the day off and just relax. Also in between all this I have to find time to work on my artworks for galleries and on my typefaces…
What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
I think I had a very romantic idea of what it was to be an illustrator. I imagined I would have fun all day working on beautiful images for pleasant clients with huge budgets and have lots of free time in my hands. None of this is false, but the reality is a mixture of this and the opposite.
I also would like to understand that an illustrator is there to fulfil the clients needs and not as much to satisfy his own ego. I used to get really frustrated and sometimes angry when clients asked for a change or revision at the work I did, because I thought the work was already “perfect” in my eyes. But it’s not about what we think, our goal is to make our clients satisfied. Obviously there are some exceptions that are really worth fighting for, but they become much more rare and more balanced. This does not mean that you will not have creative freedom and have fun working on commissions, but it means that you are open to other views and requests.
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
Being able to work creatively with something I love, playing with images and learning new things everyday. I also really enjoy the fact that I can choose the projects I want to be involved with and also have the control of my own time.
What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
I think it’s the bureaucratic things. I often tell people that an illustrator is a small agency with just one employee: yourself. You have to deal with invoices, payments, contracts, emails, meetings and sometimes that can be VERY time consuming. Another drawback is that most times we work alone and it can be a little lonely place to be everyday,
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
If I could not be something related to Arts, I think I would be a nutritionist or a personal trainer.
Any other tips you could share?
Never be satisfied with you work, always seek improvement and go beyond what you already accomplished. A personal style in illustration does not mean a recipe you cannot change and improve or completely go into a different direction.