Freelance Graphic Designer & Collage Artist: Savina Monet
When Savina Monet first started freelancing, she had enough money to cover three things: one month of rent, a bag of beans and rice, and a thread of sanity.
Rarely do we talk about the adrenaline and drive that come from leaping into something before you feel “ready,” but that’s exactly where she found herself: falling and building her wings along the way.
Working endlessly on an old laptop and a rickety red desk from IKEA, she knew that if she wanted to make a living doing what she loved, she would need to find advantages in places others hadn’t. Communication became a key to my success, as well as caring deeply for people and their projects, and working in a methodical, professional manner, with a side of fun.
As her client base and business grows, she still find herself making a hearty bowl of rice and beans to remember where she came from.
Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with an artist Savina Monet, what is going on? I'm excited about this one because we kicked it over the past weekend, we're actually participated in hutongs, which is Hispanic Heritage five part series. But before we get into all this jazz, let's introduce the world to Sabina. How are we doing? What's good, I'm doing good this morning. I got like a little raspy voice going on. But I think it just adds to the effect. I like it
adds to the effect. So let's give him a little background. Who's Where are you from? little background of who you are. Yeah, so I grew up in Seattle. And if you're familiar, it's more like Ken Des Moines Federal Way. SeaTac, you know, a little rougher neighborhood.
Savina Monet 0:57
I grew up with my mom, who is Italian American, and my dad is Mexican from Sonora. I also have half siblings that are Puerto Rican. So I had this really interesting household of,
you know, honoring the different cultures and the little differences between, like Latin communities, but also just like understanding that we're all still part of this one culture. And, you know, I was really raised with my Puerto Rican side of the family, which, you know, isn't even mine. Sometimes I just feel like it is because it's my half siblings, you know?
Gabriel Flores 1:41
so did you go to school up there in Seattle?
Savina Monet 1:44
I did. Yeah, I went to high school, I had a couple of scholarships to go to college, which I really wanted to do down in California, where a lot of my family is in the desert. But college is expensive. So after the first year, I had to drop out and actually took my last password check. And I use that to like, pay my rent and my bills. And so we had a little bit of student debt. But it wasn't too bad. And after that, I just entered the workforce.
Gabriel Flores 2:20
Yeah, so let's let's talk about that. Before we get into the art, you're currently in the workforce. But you're also an artist, what are you currently doing his profession?
Savina Monet 2:28
Currently my graphic designer, I also do collage art. And so right now my income is mostly I would say that project stuff doing logos, flyers, branding dandy websites, I'm really trying to push back into my, my artist self, which still feels kind of silly to say sometimes. But I have this creative outlet that I really want to reinvest back into and make a reality, you know,
Gabriel Flores 2:57
yeah, you know, and even being a graphic designer, it seems like you're kind of an entrepreneurial endeavors in that form as well, because you're a contract worker, correct?
Savina Monet 3:07
Yeah, I do freelance, which, you know, is terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
Gabriel Flores 3:13
So what made you do kind of your looks, you kind of went through school, you drop out, you get into workforce? Did you kind of go into the graphic design world as soon as you left school?
Savina Monet 3:22
No, I mean, I did a lot of just like, quick and easy jobs for a long time, fast food custodial. It really wasn't until I had this job working as a front desk receptionist, where 90% of my day, I just sat on my ass, I did not do anything. I felt like it was such a horrible way to, you know, make a buck. So what I decided to do was go on to websites like Coursera and find free graphic design courses so that I can start teaching myself the basics, and hopefully transition into something that I considered a career.
Gabriel Flores 4:02
Nice. Can you give us a little background to the folks that might not be aware of Chris or give him a little background of what that is, what that website does and how it helped you?
Savina Monet 4:10
Yeah, of course, there is one of the many websites that have college level courses for free. And what's really great about Coursera is that you can also join in kind of a classroom feel. So you have a teacher, sometimes you have homework, there are other students that are in there with you that kind of keep you accountable, you know, you have deadlines, which really makes you want to try you know,
Gabriel Flores 4:39
that's really cool. Did you kind of build a network with those students as well?
Savina Monet 4:44
Ah, you know, I did it I think because it was virtual. I mean, this is in 2014 15 I still felt like virtual people are strangers, you know, before like, zoom. Everyone's cool with each other. It's So no, I didn't really do that. But I did keep in touch with a couple of professors for a while. And when I would create just like fake pieces for my portfolio, I'd send it over and be like, Hey, do you have any notes? Is there anything you can add? And sometimes we're pretty responsive.
Gabriel Flores 5:17
Nice. So let's, let's talk about your art. Or you said, you mentioned you're doing collages. kind of explain what is it that you're doing?
Savina Monet 5:24
Yeah, so I do a lot of digital and physical collage, art. Really, my inspiration is based on my crazy upbringing, eclectic mix of like, a hippie, mom, and, you know, my Mexican side of my family, the Puerto Rican side of my siblings, family. So trying to bring all that together, the colors, the textures, but also my own exploration of my Mexican roots, especially with my family. And so Nona, who after you know a lot of genealogy searches in everything I see was part of the Obata tribe and my great great grandfather actually led one of the rebellions during the Mexican Revolution. And that's cool. I just feel this like warrior in my blood. Yeah, you're
Gabriel Flores 6:23
not gonna get a frickin Apache suit on everything. That's dope. I've been doing that genealogy thing and starting to figure out like, you know, my family is from, you know, South Lyon, Texas, we're, you know, indigenous to actually America. So truly, we didn't jump the border, the border jump does kind of, and it's crazy, like going through that. And like, you know, I actually have Spanish background as well. So I'm Spaniard didn't mean we have a, like, I think it's like 50 or 60%, indigenous, and like, 40%, Spaniard, and then a bunch of other things mixed in. But it's interesting, because you kind of go down there and you get to see your culture. And then it's a culture you didn't even know that you're a part of like me, for example, being knowing I'm Spaniard, and then No, and I have a family shield. What? We have a family shield, you know, that's just dope.
Savina Monet 7:08
Hey, Ghana, that's super sick. Or like, I don't know, if you ever had this moment of when you're looking at photos, if there are some of you know, way, way back when and you could see similar you know, facial features or something? Or if there's someone that looks like you're really tired we're tired? Always.
Gabriel Flores 7:32
I know, isn't it wild? have kind of now now with your with your pieces? How do you create your what medium? Do you mentioned your digital and you mentioned your life? Do you actually like cut out pieces? Or drawing? How did how do you kind of design your collages?
Savina Monet 7:46
Yeah, I'll I'll cut them out. A lot of times, I use a lot of vintage magazines. I'll also use like some of the old gallon dados I remember that were like at the grocery stores and stuff. A lot of the artwork that was really big during the Mexican Revolution to kind of like, you know, unite the country of Mexico. I just kind of love the imagery and the, I guess like patriotism in it, you know, and I understand there's a lot of like, issues with that in itself. But it does still have a place in my heart when I would go to my Diaz and my well as house and they would have it up. And you know, I just tried to keep in touch with my childhood, I think as much as possible.
Gabriel Flores 8:32
Nice. And what what how big are these pieces and kind of what's all you mentioned? Like some of the Latino Hispanic, traditional art, but what how big are these pieces?
Savina Monet 8:43
A lot of them they hand cut ones are like five by seven, eight by 10? No, no, God, no.
Gabriel Flores 8:52
Jesus, these are huge.
Savina Monet 8:54
By always have been into MIT, I think the biggest one I have is 11 by 14 inches. Nash, it was something that he would pick up, put down, pick up. But he just kept building and building and that was like, I need a big frame for this.
Gabriel Flores 9:14
Interesting, interesting. So what why why kind of collage is
Savina Monet 9:20
a funny thing you asked. So growing up, I was always very creative. We're also pretty broke most of the time. So we didn't buy a lot of things. We would make things we would fix things. My mom would make me like skirts to wear to school and, and so I always felt creative. But when I went into like art class, I didn't know how to draw. And so I just just so defeated by my lack of ability to draw or paint. I felt like I was an artist. You know, I went through this whole like identity crisis. But I still had this creative mode. Joe inside of me. And so I felt like collage was the way for me to get out as fast as possible. You know, I have the vision in my head, I see the colors, the textures, and I'm able to just pull these materials that mirror exactly what's going on in my head.
Gabriel Flores 10:17
What would you say what piece that you've created recently? Or maybe in the past or whatever? What would you say? What piece Have you created that you're most proud of?
Savina Monet 10:28
Yeah, that's a good question. I, that is a really good question.
I had to think about that. Because there's just so many, you know, I would say most recently, actually one that I'm going to present on Windows. Yeah. I'm very proud of it. Because it feels like an exact representation of how Mike Diaz would make me feel. So it's kind of a devotion piece. You know, it has these two, I think there may be Guatemalan? Yeah, he does in the middle. And they're all dressed up like they're going to you know, a party, but they got the beers and their hands though. They and then all around I just put you know, like flowers and, and like Aztec gods and like things. I just were representative of my Diaz household when I was growing up, like just things that I would feel walking in, smelling like the corn tortillas, which is good, and like, it feels so good. And by some blessing, I found the perfect frame for it at Goodwill. And so it's just beautiful. I'm so proud of it.
Gabriel Flores 11:45
And you made me all hungry. Now what some enchilada did for lunch? I don't know I'm all for it's like Damn, man, I get that sense of quantity as a fresh tortillas especially when you put some butter on it. Yeah, we call that cholesterol. Don't worry about that, folks. Don't worry about that. That's some at some grown folk business right there. So So you mentioned actually you mentioned who chose PDX Can you talk a little bit about what you're doing at that event? And what the event is?
Savina Monet 12:14
Yeah, oh my gosh, I'm so excited for those not even because it's five weekends for the entire month of the was a Hispanic Heritage Month Latino heritage month. But just of everything that Cristian was able to bring together like he really wanted to hit on all corners of Latini that you know, and what it means to everyone so me specifically I'll be paying up some artwork and I know during the week of the vendors also be there slinging all my goods so for sure, check it out. I'm excited for opening week when you know it'd be music and cars and like oh, I know people are going to come out hard.
Gabriel Flores 12:57
No what days will you be out there slinging some goods
Savina Monet 13:01
I during the third weekend? I know I had done other days. Exactly. But I know it's the third weekend of Windows
Gabriel Flores 13:13
perfect perfect. Now what would you say you know you mentioned you're kind of like doing graphic designs what would you say you learned in the graphic design worlds that has been helping you in your artwork
Savina Monet 13:24
Oh wow. Like the basics you know color theory composition, how to lay things out. A lot of that translates you know, just any sort of like basic art theory or however it is like that is the knowledge that you need to step to whatever next creative field you want to get to like if you feel like you can't do it because you're not creative or whatever like just make sure you got your foundation down the color theory the composition and you'll be good to go. Now can
Gabriel Flores 13:57
you give a little bit of an explanation of what those are what is like when you say foundation what is that when you say color compensation or color theory what are these things?
Savina Monet 14:06
Yeah, so like color theory is the way that colors blend together I mean you know we see it in nature a lot or like in clothes I guess that's probably the easiest one you know when you want to look fly you gotta you can go monotone all one color you know black just go
Gabriel Flores 14:27
all black right? Always go black
Savina Monet 14:31
or you can you know get the like red with maybe a little gold and you know maybe hit a purple if you're feeling like real crazy that day right that's why
Gabriel Flores 14:43
I'm gonna get some purple with my red now I didn't think about and so did you learn this all through Graphic Design School?
Savina Monet 14:52
Ah, yeah. All through that Coursera that and the school of life. That's cool. Let me tell you like, since I was self taught, you know, I had to take on a lot of, like, I know people say don't do but I took on a lot of free projects or like lopi projects, because I knew I just had to build something. And I made a lot of mistakes. And God bless them for having patience with me, or, or taking that design because it's pretty, and I'm just starting out. But I learned a lot through experience.
Gabriel Flores 15:27
So let's let's talk about your kind of, because you know, even being your, as you mentioned, you're kind of a contract worker, right? You're free freelancer, from the, from the graphic design world. How do you get new clients with graphic? How do you market yourself in a freelance world?
Savina Monet 15:44
Oh, man, that's a good question. I feel like I need to learn something I just by the grace of God, I would say so that's what it feels like sometimes just like a miracle. Honestly, a lot of my clients first came through Instagram, which I know is like, not traditional. I would post my collage work. And then people would just reach out and be like, hey, you know, you're creative. Do you do this? Do you do this? And then so I started to kind of use that as like a marketing tool, like, hey, I'll post my collage work, and people will see me get excited about me. And then sometimes they reach out, or brands will reach out and say, Hey, this is dope, what else do you do? And then I'm ready to come in just like pop up. I have this portfolio. I got all this stuff. I'm ready to go.
Gabriel Flores 16:34
Nice. And what all do you have in your portfolio? Just again, I'm thinking of like, for those folks at home, they're thinking that maybe, you know, maybe they want to get into graphic design one day, what should they expect?
Savina Monet 16:45
Absolutely. I mean, print design is not dead. People still need, you know, flyers and packaging, learning how to be able to talk to printers, and understanding like paper weights and textures. That is really important. I have no idea. I didn't think about that. Right? And again, it wasn't until I went to a printer, and I said, Hey, I have a client that needs this. You know, what can we do? And I just sat there at the printers all day going through paper and touching it, and learning from them.
Gabriel Flores 17:20
That's cool. It's interesting that there's so many facets to every part of business that really as entrepreneur, you don't understand until you begin to dig into that business that you're realizing. Oh, it's an onion. And there's a lot more layers to this onion. And sometimes you cry. Oh, yeah. What would you say has been easy about this process?
Savina Monet 17:49
Oh, man. I think you're absolutely right. There are a lot of layers, and you don't realize how not easy it is until you take that step. So I would say sometimes the easiest part is taking that first step by committing yourself and saying like, look, this is going to be my goal, this is what I'm going to go for. And as long as you have that persistence, you know, if you fall down, get back up, always get back up. Because that's the only way that you can continue, you can learn you can grow. Otherwise, you know, if you just if you give up, then there's no way that you'll be able to see if you're able to get it be able to get to that or not.
Gabriel Flores 18:30
Yeah, it's true. You know, like, if you go to my website, the first quote I have is a quote I use pretty consistently. And that is I've never felt a day in my life. I either learn or I succeed, right? Because I feel like saying I fail says I gave up, I stopped trying, I'm done, you know, and I just don't do that now. And now let's flip it. What has been difficult about starting this either from the graphic design perspective, or from the the art perspective.
Savina Monet 19:01
I would say both of them, you know, there's this hidden layer, like you're saying, like accounting and just like business practices, you're like what I have to do the worst? It really is it really is. So you know, get some QuickBooks or take take a couple of accounting lessons on Coursera. I mean, those really helped me to just understand the basics of accounting, like how to put my money away for taxes and how to make sure I have enough cashflow as a freelancer or even an artist. When I have those slow months that I'm still going to be okay. And then I'm not going to just like freak out like I did for the first three years.
Gabriel Flores 19:48
Just sometimes you just gotta do it, write a test, kind of like just jump in the fire and kind of figure it out. Jump in the deep end kind of thing. Now what continue to motivate you
Savina Monet 20:00
Oh man, the realization that you can do this, like, it's the craziest feeling ever. When I was growing up, there was no option of being an artist or a freelancer, you know, like it was, I was thinking of going to school for accounting specifically. And I was like, well, I'll just work in an office, you know, get the benefits get good pay, like that was the only things in my mind. And then as you're doing it, and you're realizing it's slowly killing you. Life, absolutely, then you're like, hold on, like, there has to be a way to integrate things that I like, into this. And, and so that's really, that's been my, like, pushing factor to keep going. It's like, once you're able to kind of achieve it. And then you look back and see how far you've come. And you're like, wow, I went this far, like, maybe next year, can I can I push it a little bit more? And just to keep growing?
Gabriel Flores 21:08
Where do you see yourself in five years? You know, keep growing, where are you? Where are you at?
Savina Monet 21:14
Um, I mean, I would love to, I want to hit that like six figures, that's my biggest thing, you know, because I feel like when I hit that, then I'm gonna be able to put stuff away for like, you know, a 401k for savings really start to like, build my life up. You know, right now, it's humble beginnings. And I love it. You know, I'm used to this, I thrive in this book to be able to like read something like that. I see that as like success in my eyes.
Gabriel Flores 21:44
You know, you mentioned when you first started creating these pieces, a lot of it was free, a lot of the work was free. Now, what you currently I'm assuming, do you now charge?
Savina Monet 21:55
Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I charge for not only my time, and I encourage everyone to do this too. But you need to charge for the years of experience that it took you all of the lessons that you've learned, you know, some of the best advice that I've gotten is, you're able to do that thing in like five minutes. Because you had those three, four or five years of failure or learning and, you know, the growth that it takes, you need to make sure that you're charging for all that too.
Gabriel Flores 22:29
Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. You know, what, what would you say, you know, are the things that kind of keep you up at night about your business about being a freelancer?
Savina Monet 22:39
I think the same thing is every freelancer, which is what if my clients all disappear in one day? It's totally irrational, you know, sometimes it feels like that. But as freelancers you know, we just got to keep going. That is we are hustlers. Like we are hustlers, they gotta keep going. Because if you don't you don't eat. You eat
Gabriel Flores 23:03
what you kill kind of thing. That's right. Now, what advice would you have for the listeners at home, either from an artist perspective or a freelancing perspective?
Savina Monet 23:20
But it is possible.
You know, we might have different backgrounds, but especially nowadays, I feel like there's such a great community of support. There are people out there that want to see people like us succeed and be able to live their passions and their dreams and be happy.
Gabriel Flores 23:39
I like that you got to be happy. Now for those folks at home. Where can they find you? Where can they find your work? Where can they buy some of your pieces? Where can they? Where can they support your artwork?
Savina Monet 23:49
Yeah, well, I use words that
Gabriel Flores 23:53
slide in the DMS.
Savina Monet 23:58
Y'all can find me at Savina Monet, Mo n e t, or Hello, my name.com Funny enough, my name was taken. So I was like, Well, I guess I gotta do this.
Gabriel Flores 24:10
Again, folks, for those that are listening, please subscribe to the newsletter. All this information is gonna be on the newsletter. And again, we're going to be at the hospitals event. So please join us it's a five part series starting September 17 really going to be a fun time I'm excited. Been able to interview a few different artists already was able to interview the actual creator Christiaan about this as well. So I'm excited because you know, there's gonna be a lot of great artists a lot of great food, some some beer and some wine. So some adult beverages there but also bring the kids because there's also an opportunity to build something that dies and all sorts of different things. So, you know, as I think as Samina was really saying is going to kind of highlight the diversity of what is the Hispanic culture. And guess what, we're not all just from Mexico. It's a shock. I know. I know. Sabina Is there any thing else you'd like to say to the audience before we head out
and thank you.
Savina Monet 25:05
Thank you so much thank you Gabriel for you know having me be a part of this and I just love building community and sharing my story inspiring others so thank you.
Gabriel Flores 25:14
I love it so folks, don't forget to follow her on the Instagram you can also follow the shades of E at the shades of E on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok. So please subscribe to the newsletter and have a great night