Explore body positivity and building a career in the arts with Alona Savchuk as she shares her experience as a freelance illustrator.

Carving out a freelance career in art can be a long journey, but for illustrator Alona Savchuk working for herself was always the goal. After pursuing an education combining her passion for art and computers, she began to develop her personal style as an illustrator.

Today, her work takes inspiration from the world around her. Her illustrations of people celebrate womanhood and body acceptance. Sometimes based on real people, Alona’s inspired by the cultures of countries she travels to and the people (and animals) she meets along the way.

We asked Alona about her journey so far, why she freelances, and what advice she has for illustrators who want to pursue a creative career.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk | @design_savchuk

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Alona Savchuk
Illustrator Alona Savchuk.

Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator?

No, not really. I’m the kind of person who needs to make money first, and second comes what you like so art wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind. My first acquaintance with art was in a course called “Oil Painting.” After that, I studied at a computer academy, that’s where I decided to begin to combine pictures and graphics. 

It was there that I discovered the opportunity to express what I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted to do illustrations.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Finding a Niche
Expressing love and acceptance in illustration. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Have you ever worked on any other type of art?

Nope! Only oil painting and illustrations. I found my niche very early on.

Since you started creating illustrations, have you always worked for yourself?

No, I didn’t always work for myself. But the business I was in before was only really for the money, and I grew tired of it. I decided to open a business and work for myself, I wanted to create something completely different than what I was exposed to.

I always wanted a job that allowed me to freely move around the world, and pursue a career doing what I love. And I’ve found it.

So it sounds like you really enjoy freelancing!

Yes, absolutely. I enjoy what I do, and I like to work for myself. What I like the most is that there’s complete freedom in my work schedule, and geographical freedom to travel and work. 

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Freelance and Self-Discipline
“Freelancing gives me the freedom to travel and find inspiration.” Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

What do you find most challenging about freelancing?

The most difficult thing is to be able to motivate yourself and create a work schedule that works for you. Freelance really is about self-discipline. You can’t succeed without it.

Has your art changed since you became an artist full-time?

I definitely became more serious about my work. I started to take training really seriously, drawing every day and communicating with like-minded people in my industry. That brought a lot of growth and development in my art.

Sometimes I look through my old work, where I started with a lot of patterns and flowers. Now that I draw full-time, I try to select topics that are more complicated for myself, and more in demand in the marketplace.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Developing a Style
Occult images are in demand according to Shutterstock’s Creative Trends. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Your recent work is incredible. I love your representation of body positivity. Has that been a focus of your recent work? 

Thank you! That makes me really happy to hear that. The reason I really shifted to focusing on this, was that I was struck by Europe and a lot of recent movements to accept women for who they are, regardless of weight. Many posters, shows, events, clothes, etc. throughout Europe are created that urge women to accept and love themselves and the body they were given. This is really important to highlight since the internal state of a woman depends on the acceptance of herself and her body, and accordingly, supports mental health.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Celebrating Body Positivity
Illustrations celebrating womanhood self-love and acceptance. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations? Are they based on real people?

Some, yes! I am inspired by the cultures of other countries and people from around the world. The world really is full of inspiration if you open your eyes.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I really enjoy the simple style, using a limited number of colors. This combination in my art makes it possible to focus on the topic that you want to convey through the illustrations. 

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Finding Interesting Topics
Lovers in love. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

What do you hope people feel when they see your illustrations?

For me personally, I’m a person who has feelings and expresses those feelings through creativity. Through creativity, I express those feelings and my vision of the world. I hope that people who view my illustrations would feel this too.

You have a really diverse stock portfolio. How do you decide what to put on there?

I try to showcase work that’s in demand in stock, so I usually select images based on trends. That being said, I try to upload work that highlights trends without departing from my style and manner of drawing.

Here are some recent trends in illustration:

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Trends in Illustrations
Representing mental health in illustration. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Do you have a favorite illustration you’ve created?

Yes, I do! My favorite is one of a group of women. I remember creating it in the early morning, on a piece of white paper with a pencil in an apartment in Stockholm at the coffee table. This piece is really special to me. I see in her the unity of women and the brink of a female soul.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — International Women's Day
Alona’s favorite image for International Womens’ Day. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Has the current pandemic affected your work? How are you shifting as an artist?

Around the world, this situation is affecting all of us. As artists, you need to be very flexible, try to see what’s a little ahead, and develop your art from there. I’m continuing to paint, as I feel like it’s my calling right now and I really enjoy it. Perhaps I will become more flexible and will find new approaches and try to create art for new topics that are starting to become relevant. 

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Illustrating World Events
Coronavirus illustration. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Do you have any advice for emerging illustrators who want to pursue an artistic career?

Draw constantly. Surround yourself with like-minded people and be inspired by each other. Participate in events and exhibitions when possible. And do not be afraid to experiment to find your own personal style—your signature look and feel.

Where would you like to see the creative industry head next?

I would love to see new illustrators join with their own unique style. Right now, there are a lot of illustrators who instead of developing their own style, try to repeat what is relevant. I think as artists, we risk losing ourselves when we do that. I am all for the new, for the experiments. And above all, for development as artists.

Illustrator Alona Savchuk on Freelancing and Body Positivity — Developing a Unique Art Style
The choices we make in life. Illustration by Alona Savchuk.

Any exciting projects you’re working on?

At the moment, I’m brainstorming my next project but I actually just wrapped two really awesome projects. The first was the faces of women and children from different nationalities for a brand. The second is a coloring book for children. It was very exciting and was something completely new for me as an artist.

Thanks to Alona for her time for this interview. If you’re interested in creating illustrations for stock, click here to learn more. And if you’re ready to get started? Click here to sign up for Shutterstock. 

Check out these other interviews with creative artists: