Maggie Enterrios, Illustrator

We are thrilled to have Chicago based Illustrator Maggie Enterrios, aka Little Patterns, on Freelance Tribe. Her vibrant, meticulously intricate, nature-inspired illustration style can't help but get your attention. It's simply striking. She has created work for Apple, Crayola, Instagram, Madam C.J Walker for Sephora, Craftsy and Chronicle Books and her work was featured on the TODAY Show in 2017. Not only is her work amazing but she dishes up some pretty great advice too. Thanks Maggie!

What do you do?

First off, I love my job, but it’s sometimes quite difficult to describe. I am first and foremost an Illustrator – 90% of my work is drawing and about 10% is graphic design. I touch many different industries, but these days I primarily illustrate for packaging design. I work with agencies or private labels to develop unique branding for cosmetics, food, home goods and alcohol products. Other applications include textiles, logos, book cover design, apparel and wedding collateral. I’ve also published two illustrated journals with Timber Press, called Nature Observer and Gather, both of which are nature-themed.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

My passions changed daily, but followed a consistent thread of certainty that I would absolutely be in the arts. I thought would be a fashion designer or a photographer for most of my childhood. I loved sketching outfits onto fashion model outlines, and I sewed outfits and accessories for myself constantly. I ended up deciding to study fashion photography in college, but I only made it a couple months before changing majors into a more broad arts education.

Dandelion Chocolate Maggie Enterrios
Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

I began my career as an Art Director in the tech startup world, creating graphics for advertising and front-end web design purposes. Working with such a small, skilled team gave me the chance to learn a lot, very quickly. After working for a couple companies on corporate projects that were fascinating but not exactly artistically fulfilling, I decided it was time to get out on my own so I could pursue the projects I was inspired to do. It took a few years to build up an emergency fund, a client list, and the nerve to say goodbye to stability, but I took the leap into full-time freelance in 2016, and I haven’t looked back once.

When you first started, how did you find clients?

Honestly, there weren’t many projects I wouldn’t take when I first started. It was a very hard few years, now that I really think about it. I said yes to everything; worked for free, took on tiny projects for friends and family. I created vectorized logos and drew cartoons: anything that would keep me busy! My portfolio was like a jigsaw puzzle of disjointed feeling projects that didn’t say much about me as a creator. As time went on I knew I had to market myself, so it was all about creating relevant content. For a few months I stopped focusing on commercial work and started designing things I was proud of: designs that felt more like a projection of the work I wanted to create in the future. I was fortunate enough to build a presence on Instagram, and this is where the majority of my clients come from. For every one great opportunity there are 20 that were not a fit for me. So, as risky as it was, I had to start saying no and thinking about the future of my brand. By the time I decided to go full-time, I promised myself that every step I took would have to tell my ultimate aesthetic story, or it wasn’t worth my energy.

Do you have a motto that you work by?

Time is a precious resource: we can’t make more of it. We all put a value on our time when working with clients, and I think we should value ourselves the same way. Let’s say you would charge a client $1,000 a day, every day (which would be awesome). You can make that amount in cash, working, or you can make your day worth $1,000. Sometimes I’ll joke with myself and think “Is this nap worth $500? Yes. Yes it is.”

How do you stay productive?

It’s all about balance. I find that if I’m not able to make some time to recharge throughout the week, it will inevitably begin to impact my productivity. Historically, I had the habit of pulling five or six 15 hour days in a row and then totally burning out. If I get run-down like that, it becomes impossible to stay creative. I am a big believer in making time for quality sleep and exercise or meditation, with the latter two very important because they allow my brain some escapism and recharge time that is in a whole different category than work. It allows me to entirely refresh and start each day anew.

Illustration Ampersand Maggie Enterrios
Illustration Arcadia Maggie Enterrios
Maggie Enterrios Illustrator
Build an aesthetic that you can confidently work in for a long time.
What are you working on right now?

I work on most of my projects about a year out from their launch, so I’m actually in a lovely window right now when I’m waiting for a few things to come out! So, currently, I’m mostly focused on working with the PR teams for those respective projects and creating assets for advertising purposes. I’m also in the process of launching an Illustration-focused branding collaborative, aimed at pairing skilled Illustrators with larger clients. So, lots of calls and emails back and forth with my accountant, drafting paperwork, and getting to work on my own branding suite for a change!

What is your dream project?

Easy. My dream project is creating a line for Anthropologie. Developing a textile or home goods line would be incredible.

What one piece of advice would you give to a freelancer just starting out?

Build an aesthetic that you can confidently work in for a long time. Something I see many new designers focused on is becoming a ‘jack of all trades’. This may work in some industries, but in my opinion clients are looking for a designer that has a style that is developed, unique, and shows mastery of skill. They want to be confident that you’ll deliver.

Illustration Wildfire Maggie Enterrios
Illustration Leopard Maggie Enterrios
What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

Even when you work from home, get dressed for work.

Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

Quitting my full-time job was so scary. I saw the volume of skilled artists in the world and couldn’t imagine how there would be any need / space for me. A LOT of friends had to give me pep talks, and I am so grateful for the community of supportive loved ones that rallied around me.

What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

I’m currently reading the Shape of Water and listening to Kurt Vile’s newest album. I love television (I mean, LOVE) but I’m taking a break right now as I’ve been traveling non-stop. I appreciate listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I work, as they allow me to playfully create my own visuals.

What is your favourite piece of clothing?

I have a dusty rose colored rancher-style hat that felt like magic the moment I put it on. I had been searching for this hat for over a year, wandering into thrift stores in every town I visited. I found a few other temporary hats along the way. But this hat and I were meant to be together. Every time someone compliments it I beam from the inside. We are soulmates.

What is the strangest thing about you?

I have an odd obsession with mountaineering and stories of survival during hiking / climbing expeditions. I have no idea why… I don’t climb. And in terms of hiking, I am no adventurer: I remind myself of “Meredith” in the Parent Trap anytime I’m out in the wilderness. And yet, I’ve read dozens and dozens of books on the subject. Beats me.

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?

Lisa Quine! Lisa is an incredible lettering artist and an all around fantastic human.

How can we find out more about your work?