Ciara Long is a Bristol based print designer and illustrator working from her studio at Pithay Studios. Before going freelance she worked as an in-house designer for high street and independent brands. Here she tells us a little about her journey and her Meanwhile space.
Ciara, we love your illustrations! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
Thank you! I am a freelance print designer and illustrator specialising in fun, colourful prints for children’s clothing and lifestyle products. My days often consist of drawing a lot of unicorns, mermaids and dinosaurs! I use a combination of hand drawn/painted elements and typography as well as digital drawing and colouring. I work on a variety of projects including print for womanswear, stationery, greetings, giftwear, children’s books, embroidery – all sorts!
Is this your first studio space and can you tell me a little about what it’s meant for you?
Yes. I worked from home for a little while but was really missing having a separate workspace and colleagues! Working from Pithay Studios has allowed me to separate my work and home life which can be difficult to balance when self-employed. Also having people to share a coffee break with in the café below the studio is really lovely.
Have you always been freelance? When was your business started?
I’ve only been freelancing since the summer of 2018. Before that I worked in-house as a designer for high street and independent design brands. I really enjoy the freedom that freelancing provides me with as well the variety of fun projects I’ve been lucky enough to work on. Every day is different, one day I might be painting florals, another colour separating artwork for screen printing, another tessellating tigers into a seamless repeat pattern.
Taking the plunge and going freelance is a huge step, what are the toughest parts of your job?
Probably being in control of the business side of being freelance this first year. It is definitely a steep learning curb but I feel like I’m getting the hang of it now. I’ve had to re-learn how to use Microsoft excel for book keeping and spend a lot of time emailing clients organizing how my next work month will look and scheduling in work to fit everyone’s deadlines as well as my own can be a balancing act sometimes!
And the best parts?
The fact that every day is different really keeps me on my toes and excited about creating new work.
Why did you choose Bristol and where did you move here from?
I moved to Bristol from the hectic lifestyle of living and working in London. I wanted to be somewhere less chaotic but still with a colourful, creative community and I think I’ve found it! Some of my favourite things about Bristol are all the beautiful outdoor green spaces, creative atmosphere and welcoming people.
And how did the business start?
I felt ready for a new creative challenge and change of lifestyle and freelancing is something I’d always been interested in venturing into. Working in London really gave me to confidence as a designer to take the plunge into freelance, I still work with some of the lovely brands I met whilst there.
Any big clients or projects you can tell us about?
I frequently work with Accessorize designing children’s swim and beachwear, stationery, slippers, bags, Christmas decorations all sorts really whatever they need help with at the time. I’ve worked on some really fun product ranges which will be released this year, I shall update on my Instagram once they’re in stores!
What big things do you have coming up in the future?
It’s hard to tell what will come my way really. I often don’t know what projects I’ll be working on the next month until the week before but I think that keeps it new and exciting! I’ve recently started working on a Children’s book with Bristol based author Zachary Reeves, it’s very much in its early stages at the moment but we’re looking to find the right publisher this year!
lastly, any tips for people who are thinking of taking a similar route?
If something doesn’t work out the way you planned think, about how you can learn from that experience and make it into a positive.
More on Ciara Long Illustration
At Meanwhile Creative we take a creative approach to ‘meanwhile’ space. We can find flexible, affordable and practical workspace for your project whether this be office space, studio space or desk space. We have something for everyone.