How One Introvert Overcame Her Fear + Became a Freelance Artist

To become the illustrator she is today, Ana Caizerliu has had to experiment with her careers.

Ana grew up in Romania loving and studying fine arts. She first worked in advertising but spent hours drawing after work. Ana was very shy about showing people her work, but once she realized her talent, everything changed. Today, Ana is a full-time freelance illustrator who focuses on packaging design, animation, and painting.  

Ana’s whimsical and colorful designs are so inspiring that we just may pick up a pencil and try our hand at illustrating one day soon. For now, we’ll let Ana stick to it. Check out Ana’s website to see all of her beautiful illustrations.

Read on to learn more about how Ana found herself drawing daily, her three tips for aspiring illustrators, and the greatest obstacle of her career thus far.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a Romanian illustrator living in Hamburg, Germany. After studying Fine Arts and Graphic Design at the university in my hometown, I started to work in advertising but kept on freelancing as an illustrator whenever I had the chance. Now I’m a full-time freelancer and I love it.

What inspires you to create your illustrations?

I get inspired by facial expressions, people’s behaviors in different situations, sometimes funny stories. Observing is a habit that I cannot control and my boyfriend is sometimes amused by how I stare at people whenever something seems interesting.

I have deep routes in my homeland. When I start missing it, I include Romanian folk patterns and nostalgic shapes into my illustrations.

When it comes to commissioned projects, the advertising experience comes in handy and I like playing with concepts, creating strong visual identities – whether they’re design or illustration related.


Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator? If so, why? If not, what other career options did you consider?

I’ve drawn and painted since I was 4, went to a high school for young artists, attended the University of Fine Arts but couldn’t decide right away what kind of artist I was, or if I wanted to be an artist at all!

After finishing my studies, the graphic designer and later on – art director jobs, were taking almost all of my time and energy. It felt like having two full time jobs. I was drawing every evening after working 8-12 hours a day.

For some time I kept my drawings to myself until I realized that this was what I really wanted to do. And after showing off some of the stuff I did in my spare time, it was a relief to see that people appreciated it.

Since I am good at drawing and more meticulous work, illustration seems to be the right “box” for me, although I don’t fit in there all the time.

I love all kinds of creative work besides illustration: painting, design (especially packaging), animation.

Experimenting with other careers has been an important part of my development and I don’t regret it at all.


How has your style evolved over time?

Oh, my style has gone through lots of phases and I think it’s still an ongoing process.

It went from completely hand drawn to completely digital, then returned to hand drawn integrating watercolors, then mixing the latter with digital.

And the approach as well: from realistic to an almost caricature, quirky style with a very fine pencil line, or a more fancy and girly approach for fashion illustration.

That’s the beauty of it: discovering on every new project that you can teach yourself how to draw in a new style.

Of course, there is an unity in my work that I keep without even knowing or at least that’s the feedback I received over time. That’s the personal imprint I guess, an inner reflection that comes natural for every creative.


What are you working on right now?

As usual, on multiple projects at the same time.

I’m preparing a paintings exhibition for next year, creating my online-shop and a very special project that involves a fully-illustrated website.

3 pieces of advice for an aspiring illustrator?

  1. Don’t be shy.

I know that there are a lot of young talents out there who are always comparing themselves to other artists. That can make you feel small and want to go and hide under a rock because you don’t feel that you’re good enough. Be open to show your artwork to other people and take in the feedback you receive. There is no universal recipe and you need to find your own ingredients.

  1. Don’t take it personal.

If some people don’t appreciate what you do, try to see if what they say can become constructive advice for your work. And always remember that your audience likes or dislikes your art for their own personal reasons and filters that you cannot control.

  1. Be true to yourself.

It’s a cliché, I know. But everywhere you hear: be different, find a personal style, stand out, find your own special spot. I say do what you love, how you want it. Experiment and be free. You only learn from trial and error and that is hard enough. The least you can do is enjoy it.

What’s the greatest obstacle in your career that you’ve overcome and how did you do so?

I am an introvert and the idea of showing off my illustrations was terrifying some years ago. The fear started to melt away when my coworkers wanted to use my drawing skills into our advertising projects.

So the biggest obstacle was my own insecurity and I dealt with it by exposing my work to other people.


What do you to stay motivated as an artist?

I think I’m lucky because it’s a part of me that never seems to let go, no matter what I do. An art teacher once told me that “if you betray art, it will betray you back”. For me it wasn’t like that, even though I took long breaks from drawing until I settled to be a full-time artist. The need to create and the skills just didn’t go away.

What’s your favorite part about living in Hamburg?

Hamburg is an impressively green city with lots of parks and beautiful architecture. The Elbe river flows right through it and the city is full of canals, streams and beautiful bridges. I grew up by the sea and living in a city near water is ideal for me. My favorite part is taking long walks and discovering beautiful hidden streets and romantic cafes. Since it’s the second biggest city in Germany, I never get bored.

Zoë Björnson is an Editorial + Social Media Coordinator with about.me. She is a graduate of Tulane University. You can find her on Twitter @kzoeb.

4 responses to How One Introvert Overcame Her Fear + Became a Freelance Artist

  1. Beautiful, wonderful art, and a great behind-the-scenes story as well! Especially love the whimsical look to all your work. Extremely creative!

  2. Absolutely unique and beautiful artwork. Ana’s responses are articulated clearly, pleasantly and to the point. Zoe’s interview questions are terrific. Well done!

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