Being a Mac addict, working for Australian newspapers from Romania, adapting actual magazines and newspapers into templates, and getting freelance work because of his marketplace portfolio. This week we meet Catalin Daniel Ciolca (ciolca) from GraphicRiver.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
Hi, I am a freelance Graphic Designer from Romania. (That is somewhere in Eastern Europe in case you don’t know. ) I am 44 years old, two kids and a Macintosh addict.
Not surprisingly, what I do for living is exactly what I do for Envato, meaning print-related jobs. I’m doing a monthly magazine, two weekly newspapers (both Australian, by the way) and a lot of occasional jobs also print related. And of course, I can truly say that I am doing also GraphicRiver for living.
Which marketplaces do you belong to? What types of files do you sell?
GraphicRiver. I am selling only print-related files. This is what I know, this is what I do.
How did you get started? Have you had any formal training?
My GraphicRiver start was more like a joke. I was already freelancing by the time I started. I was doing a weekly Australian newspaper since about half a year but I didn’t looked specifically for other freelancing websites. And never heard about Envato.
I found out about GraphicRiver during one summer day when I bumped into two former work colleagues and went for a beer. When they asked me what I was doing I thought I might make a strong impression on them by saying: “Well, I am a freelancer working from home with Australia.” To my surprise they were about to fell off their chairs laughing.
Finally they told me: “You know, we are doing the very same thing!” And they told me about GraphicRiver and all the stuff. I wasn’t too much impressed but I thought I might give it a try.
Went home, made a user account on GraphicRiver (and hassled a bit with the author interview), assembled quickly a 24 page magazine from one of my previous projects, submitted and… forgot about it. My wife reminded me after a few hours to check if something happened. It did. It sold twice! And I said wow! That is quite something to consider.
Regarding my training I am a Journalism University graduate but what I am doing now is the result of more than 12 years of expertise. Except for Advertising Agencies, I have worked for a lot of newspapers and magazines and with a lot of editorial teams and styles. So, yes, I had formal training. And a pretty good one.
Describe your home workspace.
As I said before, I am an Apple Macintosh addict (my wife would say fanatic). I have quite an orchard at home. In my particular field of work (newspapers and magazines) I have found working on Macs a far superior experience than with Windows (I have worked both so I know).
Of course, it is also a matter of preference but there are a lot of productivity advances that Macs have over PCs. To mention only the ability to color a file or a folder. A trivial but extremely important feature. It saves you a lot of time and effort when you color green, for instance, 55 print PDF files that were sent to the printer out of the total of 124. (I should get paid by Apple for evangelizing their stuff. ) )
Another advantage of using Macs is that I save a lot of space. I am using a 27 inch quad core iMac which is actually just the monitor and which fits neatly on my desktop. It is also an extremely powerful machine to handle all the graphic tasks. I have stuffed it with the maximum 16GB of RAM so it’s a rocket.
I am using a second monitor which again in my field is something far from a whim. It is extremely useful for instance when I am making text corrections (either via a text document or via some proofing websites, like www.proofhq.com) and I place the correction document on one monitor and the actual editable file on the main one.
On the wall you can see a small clock which is set on the Australian time zone (Brisbane time) and which is extremely useful for the newspaper deadlines. And above that is a reproduction of an Aboriginal painting which was a gift to us by my first Australian employer.
I was already connected with Australia when I started with GraphicRiver so when I found out that Envato is also Australian it was kinda weird. I thought: well maybe it’s a sign. )
My actual working space is a false divider of the living room which is my “creative temple”. Often breached with unholy insistence by my kids who like to “calculatorize”, a term they invented for staying in my chair, randomly pressing the keyboard keys and looking very important…
Describe your creative process. What steps do you normally follow to create your files?
A lot of my portfolio is comprised of former actual magazines and newspapers for which I have changed the name, fonts, texts and some of the pictures, so the creative process was done before for those.
But in general, I am looking at many magazines and newspapers and I am also buying a lot of new ones. I have also found an invaluable tool in using www.zinio.com which is a magazines and newspapers subscription service website. But since it offers the possibility to actually see the titles and more importantly what are the actual inside pages, I am constantly using it for new ideas.
And since working for GraphicRiver, I am looking everywhere for potential new ideas. For instance I used to toss away the annoying direct mail advertising that usually is cramming my mail box. Or at least I was gently offering them to my wife for potatoes peeling ) Not anymore. I am now always checking everything lands in my mailbox for potential GraphicRiver value and in general I am collecting all kinds of printed materials which normally I didn’t notice before.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
There is a great amount of relativity regarding what is to be considered a successful portfolio. For instance, in terms of sale, my portfolio generates a modest, more or less constant income, below $1000/month (with which I am extremely happy, by the way).
But apart from sales it generates something which I think is more valuable. And this is a constant flow of mails from potential customers saying: “Hey, I have seen your GR portfolio and liked it. Would you do this or that for me?” I have even received one offer to submit all my stuff to another author for $3,000. )) Kindly declined.
My second weekly Australian newspaper was acquired especially due to my GraphicRiver portfolio. So, from this perspective I can say that my portfolio is a successful one.
I always thought that giving advice to others regarding anything is a subtle form of infatuation which puts you in a position of a guru that has reached illumination and decides to share with the other poor mortals the keys of success. Which, of course is not the case. But since the question specifically request for advice, I can only try to advice others authors towards having a successful approval of items.
And my suggestion is simple: Be always true to yourself! If you upload something that your are absolutely convinced is quality stuff then there are greater chances for approval. I have tried this myself on GraphicRiver. Whenever I have uploaded something I wasn’t 100% sure I liked it myself in the first place, it was rejected with the classic message: “Your file doesn’t meet our quality guidelines, etc, etc…” So be the first to like and appreciate what you are submitting.
What do you do to market your files?
I don’t do much actually. I tweet and like the new items on Facebook and also have direct links to some of my items as well as to the whole Envato website my portfolio website. Oh, and trying to publish this interview. )
What are your three favorite files, and why do you like them?
I like this because it’s a complete bundle with my Celebrity Magazines series which are by far the most complex layouts I have on Envato. It also happens to be the most expensive item on GraphicRiver (yet).
I like particularly this restaurant menu because it turned out to be an elegant and graphically catchy file without using any picture at all.
And finally this is my best selling item. Ironically this is also my very first submission although because it was soft rejected several times (I didn’t figured it properly all the technical nitty-gritty submission details) it actually appears as my fourth item.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
To be perfectly honest, I neither know much about the other authors nor browse their files and portfolios. I don’t want to seem contemptuous or superior. The simple truth is that I have very little spare time and when I am working for GraphicRiver I prefer to make a new template of my own rather than browsing others’ work. Well, it turned out also to be a perfect way of being not complexed by other authors which are more talented then me. )
This doesn’t mean I don’t look at all at other works on GraphicRiver. For instance, I am always impressed (and confess that this is something I never can do) by the flyers of sevenstyles. The level of complexity just blows me away. No wonder he’s first.
What do you do in your spare time?
A new GraphicRiver template of course.