Elen Winata is a freelance designer currently based out of Singapore. While Elen loves freelancing, she also explains the difficulties that come with it and how she’s adapted to create a freelance lifestyle that personally works for her—even if it means designing through the night until the early morning hours!
Where do you work? Tell us about your space.
I work from a variety of places depending on how I’m feeling that day. If I am working on a tight deadline, I tend to work from home. But when time permits, I like to work from cafes and libraries. Being self-employed can be lonely and uninspiring at times—just getting outside of the house can spark new ideas and let me see things from a new perspective. I also currently have an arrangement with a local co-working company where they let me use their spaces in exchange for volunteering there once a week.
What hardware and software do you use to create your designs?
As my illustration style leans heavily towards vector designs, the software I use most is Adobe Illustrator. I also like to use Adobe Photoshop to add in extra texture and depth to my work when necessary, as well as do additional color corrections.
My main work device is my trusted MacBook Pro laptop, accompanied by the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet to draw on. I have also started using tablet-based drawing apps for a more mobile workflow when I work remotely, such as Affinity Designer, Vectornator, and Procreate on the iPad Pro.
Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?
No days are the same, but I try to schedule my workflow in a way that is most efficient to my working style. I am a night owl who is most productive after the sun has set. I like to spend my mornings and afternoons doing admin work like answering emails, doing paperwork, or scheduling client meetings. I do most of my creative work at night when I know the productivity is high! I enjoy being able to work on projects without interruptions during late nights as most people are asleep by then.
I try to keep one day a week free of any work to avoid burning out. I believe sometimes to take two steps forward, you have to take one step back. Knowing when to stop and rest can keep the creative juices running longer rather than going full steam ahead.
How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?
Having a flexible workspace definitely benefits me as I have the freedom to work from anywhere I want. In a way, it’s also a double-edged sword. Differentiating work and play can be a problem since I work both at home and outside.
Despite being a night owl, age is also slowly catching up to my health. I can no longer stay up as late as I used to without feeling an immediate effect the next day. In the past, I was barely affected by lack of sleep. But now I feel really sluggish if I don’t get the full eight hours a night. I’m trying to improve my lifestyle by limiting my daily work hours and going to sleep by 2am at the latest regardless. It’s a struggle and I’m still trying to find a balance, but one step at a time!