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Getting organized with Brazilian designer, illustrator, and student Paula Cruz

Paula Cruz is a designer and illustrator based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On top of doing freelance work, Paula is currently a masters student of design at PUC-Rio. Paula puts a big importance on staying organized —whether it be with her workspace or the way she schedules her days. Learn how she balances all of her commitments and prioritizes setting aside time for herself as well.

Where do you work? Tell us about your space.

I currently work at home as a freelancer now. It’s my first time being a freelancer, so I had to make some changes in my place in order to work better. I’m a designer and an illustrator, and my work includes traditional and contemporary techniques. So, I have a lot of different materials around my space: Pencils, markers, ink, watercolors, Intuos Pro, light table, a lot of papers, etc. It’s a lot of stuff, and organization is crucial in order to not get crazy.

I’ve organized my space in order to get functional: Intuos Pro and markers stay close to my desk so I don’t have to get up and open things. The same goes for erasers, pencils, and materials I use daily. Papers, sketchbooks, gouache and other materials go into closets and drawers. I have a mood-board for personal references. It has postcards, prints, folders, flyers, and magnets. For me, it’s very important to be surrounded by inspirational stuff. It’s necessary to collect inspiration.


What hardware and software do you use to create your designs?

I’m a Windows fan, and I use the following hardware: GPU Geforce GTX 1060 6Gb, CPU AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and my RAM Corsair Vengeance 16Gb. I mainly use Adobe Suite software—especially Adobe Indesign, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I also use Meister Task, Toggl, and Google Calendar to organize my routine. Last but not least, I usually work with Copic, Tombow, ZIG, Kuretake and Sharpie markers for illustration. I use Windsor & Newton for ink, gouache, and watercolor.

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Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?

My routine is determined by my Masters classes at PUC-Rio. I have classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. I spend the rest of the week on my projects, freelance work, and homework from my classes. I’m used to spending my Wednesdays and Thursdays doing freelance work in the morning and afternoon and then creating personal work at night. Fridays are set to work in the morning and study in the afternoon.

I have a really strict rule: I don’t work for clients on weekends.

It’s really easy to get lost on your schedule as a freelancer, especially if you don’t put limits on your working hours. Therefore, I have a really strict rule: I don’t work for clients on weekends. Although studying and creating personal work is allowed on these days, I’m used to resting and relaxing on Saturdays and Sundays. Non-working time is useful time, so you can rest and prepare yourself for the next round.


How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?

My space, tools, and habits help me to work and live better. My space which is organized and planned leads to an easy routine and my habits indicate how my creative process happens. I think arranging my space is an endless process — it always can be better and more practical. The same goes for methodology habits, especially as a freelancer.

Want to keep up with Paula? Find her on Dribbble, Instagram and at

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