How one freelance illustrator is drawing up her dream career

Vanesa Souss runs an illustrated blog about her life in Holland. One moment, she’s pictured buying a piano with her boyfriend. Next, she’s visiting the Muiderslot castle with friends. Then, she’s watching a man feed seagulls. Her adventures in Amsterdam have captions in English and Spanish too, cluing the reader in that she hasn’t always called this city home.

The Argentinian illustrator and designer started out studying graphic design in Buenos Aires and worked at a studio for several years after. Here, she had all the tools at hand for learning how to animate moving images.

During this time, the WeWork Weteringschans member had her eye on European artists for inspiration, such as Lucas Zanotto and Erik Spiekermann. Souss’ two favorite design studios were based in Amsterdam, so when her boyfriend got offered the opportunity to work in Holland, she didn’t hesitate for a second to join him.

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Setting up shop from scratch in a foreign country was a far stretch from her cushy position in Argentina.

“Going freelance is scary enough, but I was dealing with cultural differences as an added bonus,” says a now confident Souss. “When meeting with a new client, I try to find out what they’re after in detail. English is not my native language, let alone Dutch, which made communicating hard at first.”

Luckily, she could always fall back on her sketches, which speak for themselves.

Souss’ style is joyful and fresh. Her choice of soft colors gives her work a warm, vintage feel. And the way she combines handcrafted details with digital technique makes her illustrations original and personal.

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But she is continuously learning and improving her work.

“Moving here has changed my perspective on life,” says Souss. “It forced me to reach out and meet new people. I travel all across Europe and take along my sketchbook wherever I go. Drawing so much has affected my style.”

Only a year after arriving in Amsterdam, Souss has established quite a name for herself. Her blog attracted the attention of Holland’s biggest bank, ABN AMRO, which was after a personal, sketchy style for the job on hand.

Vrumona, a Dutch soft drinks manufacturer, also approached Souss for a complicated story that needed to be told in a quick and simple manner. The way Souss creates fun characters and plays with lettering and shapes fit Vrumona’s profile.

Working freelance now, she forces herself to block off time for personal projects.

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“I want to continue developing as an artist, and one day hope to see my work in a museum or prominent magazine,” she muses. “I would also love to illustrate a children’s novel and am working on a short animation film. It’s called A Nice Evening Amongst Introverts.” I am working with a frame-by-frame technique, which is very laborious, but will make it stand out in the end.”

What it is that she loves most about her work? “Work itself,” she says with a big smile. “It is the variety and new challenges I face every day. Each job I treat like a unique project.”

The diversity keeps her on her feet, and all this in the close vicinity of the artists who inspired her in the first place.

Photo credit: Marjolein Van der Klaauw

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