I Turned My Graphic Design Side-Gig into a Full-Time Business

collage of a graphic designer working

Matilda Wilson is an Art Director and creator of Matilda Wilson Creative Studio, a creative agency that specializes in branding, communication, and design. Wilson started her business as a freelance designer and has since built her side gig into a full-time business with clients such as MTV Australia and Napoleon Perdis. Her purposeful, clear-cut designs focus on transforming a company’s story into a unique creative design concept. From the importance of creating boundaries between work and play to building a business during a pandemic. She spoke to Clever-ish about how she copes with failures, knowing her worth, her recommendations, and much more.  

Tell me a little about your brand/company. What do you do and how did you come to do it?

I own a creative agency, which started off about four years ago, as a freelance graphic design role for just me. Since then, it has grown into a full-time gig, business, and team of wonderful contractors that see us undertake a lot of branding projects, which can involve anything from full-scale shopfront fit-outs and design to digital platform development and everything in between! We also look after some really cool ongoing accounts for areas such as social media management, content creation, and copywriting.

How did the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent lockdown affect your business, and most importantly your creativity?

I left a really secure full-time role in February, haha! The universe would’ve been laughing in my face. But I’m one of the lucky ones that saw growth during COVID-19. I was a small business that was able to help people take their businesses online or change up their approach. As much as this time was really horrible for a lot of people, I saw incredible businesses make the most of it and work so hard to pull themselves out. My role in helping them was and still is one I am going to be grateful for, for a really long time. The saying adversity builds character” was definitely relevant this year and without COVID maybe I wouldn’t be as resourceful as I am now? Who knows!

“I’m one of the lucky ones that saw growth during COVID-19”

At some point, all of us have faced failures in some way. How do you handle these setbacks?

I don’t beat myself about failing. It definitely happens, don’t get me wrong! But each time you fail there is equally an opportunity for growth. I think as long as you are honestly acknowledging these setbacks and taking ownership of them, you’ll learn from them. Everyone fails, it’s human – if we didn’t we wouldn’t know how to celebrate when we achieved the opposite end of them.

collage of a graphic designer working
Matilda Wilson’s Designs

Do you have any crucial items that you need every day?

Definitely Adobe Creative Suite, my planner, and google drive!

What do you love the most about your industry and what is one thing you would like to change?

I love that there isn’t really a peak for design – it constantly evolves, it constantly combines disciplines and people are constantly innovating. You’re never short of inspiration and it really is special! One thing I would like to change is the perception around creatives and their worth – you wouldn’t ask a waiter to change the cost of your dinner – don’t ask your designer. 

“You wouldn’t ask a waiter to change the cost of your dinner – don’t ask your designer”

How do you stay focused on your creative goals?

I think incrementally setting goals and equally, reflecting on such is a really important part of my processes. Especially when I’m super busy. It helps keep me accountable for what I’ve set out to do, re-asses areas I may have fallen down in, and acknowledges what I’ve been able to do! Creatives run out of steam sometimes, so combining creativity with business and having a good balance between this also helps me tick those boxes.

Tell me about how you unwind. Do you practice self-care?

I struggle with balance a lot, working from home there is a big blur between when I should be switched on and off. I’m working on fixing this area of myself and my partner actually has enacted a ‘phones off’ period, along with a ban from my computer past dinner time, it needed to be done. I’m grateful for his regimented approach! I love spending my free time reading or just simply being outside, I’m lucky enough to live in a really beautiful part of the world so any opportunity to revel in that is one to be taken. And of course, any time spent with friends over a long lunch or picnic is definitely a happy place to be! My advice is don’t sacrifice your time spent with ones you care about to work, work is work and yes it’s important but it doesn’t own you and you never know what’s around the corner. Regularly remind yourself to check in with your families and friends, look after yourself, and just simply, slow down.

If you have to recommend a book, article, podcast episode, or video you really love and have impacted you a lot, what will it be?

This is tough! There are some pretty amazing brains out there and when you work remotely they help A LOT. I would say; read Thinking Fast and Slow, listen to the podcast Per Our Last Email for when you need a laugh, and watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk for when you need some clarification!

Welcome to The Doers, a Clever-ish Magazine interview series. The Doers are those who have taken the brave step to ‘DO’, to step out of their comfort zone, pursue their goals, and bring their dreams to life.

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