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Being a freelance graphic designer, Levente Szabo

Levente Szabo is a freelance graphic designer with a portfolio that most of us would like to have. He has worked with amazing clients such as DDB, Mc Cann Erickson, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy and Mather, BAFTA and much more.

In this interview, we’ve talked about the pleasures and difficulties of being a freelance graphic and also about a great project for the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television arts).



You’re a graphic designer and an illustrator at the same time, how did you start your career as a freelance? And by your point of view which are the biggest difficulties and pleasures in working as a freelance?

I tried to do as many freelancer works as I could while I was attending the University, so the transition was a bit easier but the first year, out in the wild“ was still excruciating. After a while, I found a way to work for the advertisement agencies and it gave me a financial security in the following years working for them a storyboard artist. Meanwhile, I tried myself in the concept art scene and I made two comic books as well for my own enjoyment.
My breakthrough was a personal project when I made a book cover series dedicated to my favourite novels. You can find it on Behance. 


Most of my friends would say the time management and the separation between work and personal life – but for me the paperwork (taxation, invoices, contracts, etc) is the worst part of being a freelancer.


Having a spontaneous day off and having a coffee/beer in the park just because it’s a great weather out there. But I’m doing this more rarely than I should.



I’ve noticed that you make a great use of the double exposure effect, can you tell us some basic tips to create a beautiful double exposure effect?

To be honest, I really don’t like the double exposure as I think it’s more of a „method” nowadays and there are much better and more clever ways to fuse different ideas in one cohesive illustration.
But as an illustrator, I’ll do my best if a client is specifically asking for such a double exposure illustration (more on that later).

The best tip is to sit down and think hard about the topic. When you can distill the story/movie/book into one simple sentence, gather a bunch of symbols and feelings into a cloud, then you can start working at the drawing board. Sometimes it’s a really quick process, other times it could take days until the perfect combination pops up.

I was really lucky with the Revenant poster for BAFTA and the first layout was accepted, but it is a really simple revenge movie. On the other hand we had dozens and dozens of layouts for Carol and the Spotlight as those movies have much more subtle messages.



One of your recent works has been the BAFTA 2016 poster campaign, can you tell us the creative process behind this project?

When Paul Willoughby contacted me from Human After All Agency (BAFTA’s creative partner) with the offer to work on the poster, they already had an approved brief for the illustration, it was titled “Window to Another World” so basically they already knew what kind of illustrations they were expecting. (I believe last year it was “Spotlight“ when Malika Favre was asked for the task)

When I received the DVD copies of the nominated movies we had about two weeks to come up with five layouts that everyone likes and work together as a series. There were more than 60 layouts at the end, and once we had the final approval from BAFTA, I had a weekend to produce the five high-resolution illustrations. It was a rough ride.





Which blogs and magazines do you consider important to stay updated on new graphic design trends? And which digital platforms are the most useful to share creative content?

I may be completely wrong, but right now I feel like I have to look less and less at current trends and focus much more on my own style. I want to think more and draw less…

But Behance offers me plenty of inspiration whenever I check the front page, looking at the immense talent there it’s useful, but sometimes it completely overwhelms me and I only feel crap. 🙂


Can you share with us some hints on future projects? 

I’m currently working with a London based studio on a three-piece poster series for a motorbike company. We’re about halfway with the project and it’s shaping up nicely.
I think it might be a portfolio piece once we’ve finished it!