Freelance Illustrator
Levi
Jacobs

Levi Jacobs is a Dutch illustrator based in Rotterdam. His style is eye-catching, especially his use of colors and textures which have a refreshing escapist quality.

Rotterdam, Nederland • May 19, 2022

What led you into design?

As long as I can remember, I love drawing. It was usually about recreating the things I was obsessed about as a kid. The toys I had and the cartoons I watched. Also, I was obsessed about playing Nintendo at my friend's place. But because first I didn't have one myself, I made drawings about these virtual worlds when I came home.

How much I loved drawing as a kid, I never took this hobby too serious until the end of high-school when you have to make a decision about what study you want to do. I figured there was not anything what had my interest during that time in school besides procrastinating with drawing during class. And I discovered graffiti, what I liked to do instead of homework. Luckily, my teacher recommended me to try a graphic design school. And this was finally something in school I loved doing.

After that, I went to Art school and studied illustration. Even though I loved everything In school. I hated the classes and the system of the academy. I still managed to graduate, but I was insecure and lost my passion for drawing. It took me a while to get it back, and I struggled to be financial independent as a freelancer. But from there everything went slowly better, and now I am doing great. And I am happy and grateful I can practice my biggest passion every day.

What does a typical day look like?

As a freelancer, you never know how your day looks like or what work you have. It demands to be really flexible. It’s hard to look a head and plan things. I don’t know if this has to do with my job or if this is my personality. So I live by the day. To have some kind of structure during the day, I take a lot of time for the meals. In the morning, first thing I do is drinking coffee. I only drink one a day because I am super sensitive to caffeine. Then I make breakfast and I like to watch a film or a TV show in the morning. It sets me in the mood for the day. It’s simulating the Saturday-morning feeling I had as a kid. Then end of the morning I start working. I have my work space at home.
When I am working, music is really important, and I listen a lot of podcasts.

Then I work until dinnertime around 19, and I go to the supermarket. I like to go every day to the supermarket because sometimes this is the first time I go out the house and I don’t like to plan what I am eating a day before. I love to take time to cook and try some new recipes. After dinner, I continue working if I have deadlines, or I take the evening off. In the evening I usually have more energy to do fun things since I am a night person.

For a year, I decided to focus a bit more on doing personal projects instead of editorial work. So I rented a studio space together with other artists which I am working 2 days a week. I also bought my own riso printer to publish my own prints and zines. 

Another important part of my work is doing murals, this balances out my hermit-existence. It also gives me the opportunity to combine work and travel, which I really love 

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

This is the most asked question to an artist, but also the hardest to answer. I think you get inspired the most when you are not working, but doing fun things with friends. Or listening to music, watching movies, listening podcast, meeting new people, going to museums, party, travel, etc.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I went to an exhibition of outsider art. And also visited the studio of some artist working there. And I was amazed about the detail and commitment and focus to the work. It reminded me about when you are a child, and you are not afraid to make whatever is in your imagination or obsession without any self-censorship. Without overthinking every step. It made me a bit jealous. I wish I still had a bit more of that. It feels when you lose this, it never comes back any more.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I always feel this piece is not made yet. I need to work hard to become better. I also know this perfectionism is an illusion, so I enjoy the process getting there. But I can be proud about some achievements, like the first time published in a magazine. The first time I made a big mural or the first time published in the biggest newspaper of the world. But that’s more about the recognition than the actual work. It feels like I prove my art school teachers they were wrong about me. 

What design challenges do you face at your company?

When I just started off, I had a struggle to get assignments. Especially because I didn’t have a clue how to do this. Now I still don’t have a clue, but luckily clients find the way to my inbox, which still amazes me. I am not complaining because I am super busy with work, but sometimes I wish I had a bit more control about what jobs I get. Also, I am not good with the whole business part about being a freelancer. I wish I had a good agent who could help me with all these things, but didn’t find one yet. 

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

If design is your passion, don't forget when you are doing it in the first place. Don't sell your soul for money. It's amazing if you can make a living from your work. But don't let money be the pressure to create.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

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