Shreya Shetty
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LA-based freelance concept artist and illustrator, Shreya Shetty, shares her insights about handling and organising finances as a freelancer, so that it no longer feels a daunting task.

Working as a freelancer means you have a wear a lot of hats. Being smart about your finances will allow you to continue to operate smoothly. Here are some ways to help you through the ups and downs of the freelance life.

1. Know Your Worth

Charging a below par rate is going to hurt you, over time. Talk to your peers and know the general rates. Sources like ArtPact, Glassdoor, etc. help find out the hourly and per piece rates for illustrations and such.

2. Budget for Taxes for Freelancers

Freelancers pay at a higher tax rate. Consider this when you quote your prices, and budget for this when you have expenses. Virtually, all work related expenses can be written-off as business expenses. Find out all possible allowed business expenses that you can claim as a freelancer. Be sure to keep your personal and professional spending separate.

3. Consistent Clients

Try to have consistent clients so you know that you will be making a certain amount per month. Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try to have a couple of different clients, so even if one stops commissioning work, you won’t be out of work.

4. Invoicing

Be prompt about sending in your invoices as soon as the job is done. Most of the bigger companies have fixed billing cycles so if you are late and don’t send your invoices in by a certain time, it might take up to the next cycle to get paid.

5. Passive Income

It’s always great to supplement your commissions with passive income. This means that you can generate revenue with minimal effort, based on the work that you have already done. Examples of this would be Print on Demand (POD) services for prints, licensing; selling content like tutorial videos, brushes, and so on.

6. Plan Downtime

Plan for the downtime and try to save up at least 3-6 months of your basic living expenses. When you start out keep your overheads low, embrace the frugality till you know you have saved up enough to not panic if the work dries up for a while.

Published in Issue 37

The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter.


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Creative Gaga - Issue 54


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An illustrator and cartoonist, Charbak Dipta gives us a peek into his world of inspiration and then how he transforms his ideas into mesmerising artworks.

Third World. The third world countries busy masturbating.

CG. What inspired you take up art/illustration as your profession?

Charbak. I believe one should always listen to his/her inner calling. Since childhood I enjoyed doodling on paper and walls. However, my parents wanted me to be a lecturer and singer. I stopped my art and earned a MA degree. I also pursued music. But destiny is such that I inevitably landed a job as an intern cartoonist in the ‘The Time of India’. There was no looking back from there.

The Sad Indian Alien. When the girlfriend leaves an alien to marry some other wealthier alien.
Blowing in the Wind. The ecstasy of blowjob.

CG. How would you like to define your style of art? Is there a specific name that you like to call your style by?

Charbak. My style is an amalgamation of the various schools of art which I have been inspired from. As a kid I used to copy whatever comics or cartoons I liked, for example, Phantom comics, Marvel, Tintin and Asterix. Later, with exposure to wider art styles, my style began to develop and take shape.

People 2. Different kinds of people and their actual face.
The Jorasanko Ghosts. Ghosts of Rabindranath Tagore and family in their house in Jorasanko.

CG. There seems to be a use of Bengali alphabets and words in a few of your creations. Is there a specific reason for it? Is culture an influence for your creations?

Charbak. I am a Bengali, thus Bangla culture is a big influence in art as well as the person I am. I grew up soaked in Bengali culture, literature, tradition, music and language. It reflects on my art and is an extension of my psyche. Bengali culture, attire and food keep appearing repeatedly in my art.

Harmonium Monster. The monster lives inside Harmonium comes out.
London Underground. World.

CG. Are your characters purely fictional? Or are they drawn from certain realities? And what is the intention of using of these characters together?

Charbak. The characters are used to depict the idea behind visible pictures. The Indian Alien series is an exception where the alien characters are purely imaginary. The other works show realistic humans too. I like layered art instead of direct communication. So my settings and characters too have different facets in their appearance that incorporate different social, historical or political references as well.

The Essential Family. A group image of a typical Bengali family stuck to one another.
Alien Uttam, Alien Suchitra. An alien avatar of Bengali matinee idols Uttam-Suchitra.

CG. Your artwork varies from showcasing realistic scenes to visualisations of imaginary concepts, covering an indefinite spectrum of situations. Yet there is uniformity all across your work. How do you maintain this universal language in your work?

Charbak. Uniformity is my style. Every individual has a way of thinking. My glass is tinted with a uniformity screen that filters my ideas and gives them a unique shape. For example, if you wore red spectacles, all objects would appear with a red tint, yet retain their original shape and function. Similarly I see objects through a this screen.

Ogres. Monsters. A set of ogres with equipment lose to a little girl.
The Mud House. Surreal Gujarati village houses.

CG. What are the mediums that you use to create your artwork? Is it hand-drawn, digital or a mix of both the mediums?

Charbak. The medium varies, some are hand drawn, others are digital. Often the best comes in a mix of both. For manual drawing I use Clutch and Pigma pencils. For digital, I use a range of software. I sometimes experiment with the drawing on different surface too, for example, paper, canvas, flex or plastic.

The Rain Water. Aliens. An alien who hates rain, submerges into rain water to avoid rain.
Machine Series. Arms are inserted into the peace machine that turns them into peace pigeons.

CG. Change is inevitable. So, 10 years down the line, what is the kind of art creations that world would be exposed to from your end? We would also like to know about your future endeavours in brief.

Charbak. I have moved from single artwork to writing full length books, art anthologies, illustrated books and graphic novels.

The Panama Papers. Drawn for a contest by 'The Times of India', Mossack Fonseca digs the money below the papers.

I have released 3 books so far. The first one was ‘The Art of Charbak Dipta’, an anthology of over 100 selected artworks of mine created between 2014 and 2017. The second is ‘Zero: An Indian Aliens Adventure’, which was a spin off from my earlier Indian Alien series of artworks. It throws light on India’s contributions to the world of science and invention. The third one is ‘Apes: An Indian Aliens Adventure’, a sequel to Zero.

Hutom. Bengali Literature. Based on the cult Bengali book ‘Hutom Pyachar Noksa’.

My fourth book is in production currently and will be out this year. In the coming 10 years I wish to write at least 10 more books. I have so much autobiographical and conceptual content, the challenge though is to put them on paper within limited time. I am also interested in web-comics. Hopefully sometime soon that takes off as well.

Relatives. Nature of blood relatives who bite back.

Published in Issue 48

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss! So, if you are planning to or have already become a freelancer then this issue is a must-read for you.


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Creative Gaga - Issue 54


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Sri Priyatham takes us through his beautiful journey of establishing himself as a freelance illustrator in the digitalised world of today. Here, he also highlights the merits and demerits of being a freelancer.

Earning his very first commission from his bedroom turned studio, Priyatham took to freelancing by metamorphosing his passion into profession, without having to leave the comfort of his home. An ardent believer of a conventional lifestyle without weekends, he feels not working under someone allows a free-flowing lifestyle and an individuals’ diversified growth.

Starting is Important

Facebook as a medium has worked wonders for Priyatham since his very start as an art student and a budding freelancer, for his communications, promotions and commissions. The outburst of other social platforms like Instagram, Reddit and Imgur helped him extend his reach to the continents of America, Europe and Australia to earn his clientele.

It is up to you!

Preferring freelancing over a day-job, Priyatham feels that freelancing is an individuals’ choice to make. An efficiently flexible working method, freelancing lets a professional explore and expand his horizon, to develop and revamp his personal skill-set, much-needed for survival.

Having its own positives and negatives, freelancing can be quite challenging. Time flexibility and absence of a pressure factor, unlike day-jobs, calls for a lot of self-motivation and commitment to deliver within the self-created deadline. Freelancing gets one working throughout the week, devoid of weekends and a social-life, unlike the conventional lifestyle. Inconsistent income and unrealistic price negotiations are some short-comings of this profession.

Also, a lot of fake freelancer-artist profiles in the market lead to a generalization of genuine and false artists in the same category, leading to a region-specific freelance deficiency.

The Freelancer Way!

To enter into the freelance market, one needs to befriend and fellow freelancers through collaborations and social media. Acquainting to existing standards, price charts and market likes and dislikes. To be in the limelight and attract future-potential clients, a freelancer needs to promote himself and his work by nominalising prices and offering discounts, creating promotional content and upgrading the portfolio with new-refreshing content, besides delivering ongoing projects in time!

Illustrating by blending creativity with trends and expressing it by #hash-tagging and wordplay is a smart tool to grow the followers list. But to translate the ‘following’ into ‘buying’, (or convert the followers into clients,) a freelancer needs to maintain high-quality standards.

Apart from being an illustrator, Priyatham is a movie-buff and a trendy reader. The variety of reads on Reddit and Quora serve as an inspiration for him to illustrate and sketching his favorite actors and film-makers motivates him. He is happy that his passion for art is an obsession!

Reaching out to the budding freelancers, Priyatham says that this is a slow process and requires consistency to be successful. One should be inspired and draw every day, just how you breathe, in-order to be better than yesterday. Making social profiles public and communicating and presenting yourself in the best way to mark your presence in the digital world is most needed in todays’ era.


Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead


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Creative Gaga - Issue 54


Every profession and field of work have certain tips that one must know before jumping into it. Lavanya Naidu, a freelancer, illustrator and animator shares some of the tips, especially to manage finances, she has followed.

Dino Buddies

Before I started off as a freelancer, I had spoken to seniors in my field and thus had a brief idea of what to expect. It motivated me to discipline myself from the beginning. When you don’t have a strict schedule and work from home, it can sometimes be hard to have a routine.


Some of the key points that I like to keep in mind when taking on a new project are:

Kittu's very mad day

Keeping Deadlines

Aside from the client deadline, I usually create a personal deadline, a couple of days before the expected delivery. This gives me a small window, in case there are unforeseen hurdles during the project timeline.

Kittu's very mad day

Clear Communication

At the start, before taking on an assignment, I prefer putting everything on the table with my client; when to expect drafts leading up to the final files, fixing the budget, making sure to mention when I might be taking time off, and assuring completion in good time. Clear communication keeps everyone on the same page and helps avoid misunderstandings

Kittu's very mad day

Inspiring Work

I try to take on work that helps me grow and challenges me. As the years have gone by, I have become more selective about what I like to take on, but I am always up for trying something new! I find that I can be true to my work when it is something I can connect with.

Dino Buddies

A Clear System of Payments

Although hard, it is important to be able to assess your skill level, the scale of the project, due to deadlines and quote a budget accordingly. It is equally important to set up a clear system of payments, create necessary invoices, and maybe even think about setting up an advanced payment before you begin work, and/or signing of a contract, when you can. I have been lucky to have had clients who have been very good to me but to avoid miscommunication at a later stage as well as to save precious time on both sides, it might be worth planning ahead.


I have found in my personal experience, that having these little details worked out, allows me to fully immerse myself in the creative process.

Since most of us freelancers work project to project, giving a thought about savings or investing money when you can might be useful, even if in small amounts. I find that it gives you a sense of security and also helps out on a rainy day.

A Butterfly Smile

There are some of the things that have worked for me over the years, but everyone has their own formula that works for them. Putting all of the nitty-gritty aside, we are lucky to be doing what we really love to do, that’s half the job done already!

A Butterfly Smile
Issue 42

Published in Issue 42

Every designer wish to be independent and willing to jump into the word of freelance but most of them unaware of the fundamental challenges of the initial phase. So, we dedicated this issue to freelancers and interviewed some established and talented designers to dig deep for the expert advice. Kevin Roodhorst on the other hand, an experienced freelancer from Amsterdam, has recently shifted to be a full-timer with an Agency says “Freelancing is not all roses!” and shared the best way to survive as a freelancer! So, whether you are a freelancer or planning to be one, this issue is a must-read. Go ahead and order your copy here or subscribe to not miss any future issues!


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Creative Gaga - Issue 54