CJC Interview: Bernadette Sosa, Freelance Illustrator

Bernadette Sosa

Website: www.bernadettesosa.com // Instagram: @bernadette_sosa

Tell us a little about your path so far— where are you from? Where are you currently? Share a few career highlights.  After graduating from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I began working as a designer in advertising. Through advertising, I fell in love with storytelling and ideas. I quickly worked my way to becoming an Art Director. While agency life kept me pretty busy, whenever I had spare time, I found myself illustrating and writing for picture books I conceived. The more I illustrated, the more I wanted to become an illustrator. After years of mustering up the courage, I took a scary leap and became a freelancer. Freelancing afforded the flexibility to develop my illustration portfolio and submit ideas to publishers.“

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration through people-watching. What strangers wear, who they are with and how they interact fascinate me, especially in New York. Eavesdropping is another guilty pleasure of mine. I am interested in hearing about someone else's world...it's like a story you haven't heard. Personally, inspiration is found in everyday people, not so much via other artists/art.”

What does being an ‘entrepreneur’ mean to you?  “Largely, being an entrepreneur means putting yourself out there and managing rejection, while finding ways to keep going. This is possible because you are passionate about an idea and truly believe in it. Practically speaking, being an entrepreneur means wearing multiple hats. You are dealing with every aspect of the project/product. These hats typically include: concepting, art, writing, proofing, managing the project, account directing and even IT. As an aside, IT is not my strong suit.

© Bernadette Sosa

© Bernadette Sosa

What’s the biggest misconception you face WFH or as an entrepreneur? “The biggest misconception I faced when I started working from home is that you can just pick and choose whatever project you want to work on and work on it whenever you feel like it. This notion of total flexibility is definitely not the case. Even though I’m sans makeup most of the time, I still have people to answer to and deadlines to meet. Believe me, not all projects are sexy and cool. Some work makes money yet is not Instagram or portfolio worthy. However, sometimes it's nice to get a load of laundry done while waiting for feedback.”

If you could give one piece of career advice what would it be? "Find your people. I once heard that if you want to become something, surround yourself with people that embody that goal. Become friends with them, and learn as much as possible.”

© Bernadette Sosa

© Bernadette Sosa

Who do you find in business, a personal mentor or celebrity figure to be most intriguing?  “I’m in love with Liza Donnelly, who is a cartoonist for the New Yorker. Her drawings are clever, timely and female-focused. She expresses a lot of personality using few words.”

If you weren’t pursuing your current career, what would you want to be doing? I would most likely pursue a different type of art/design because art has always been my passion. There are so many different industries you can go into that utilize art. I’ve always been interested in shoe design and window display (especially what the artists from Anthropologie create).”

If you could give your younger self any bit of wisdom, what would it be? Ask those who have achieved or “made it” for advice and guidance. I’ve always been a bit stubborn and overly self-sufficient when asking for help. Looking back, I wish I had checked my ego at the door, stepped out of my comfort zone and asked for guidance. This advice seems like a no-brainer now that I'm older.”

How do you define success?In my 20s, I thought being successful meant the hours you worked, the title you achieved and the salary earned. I used to brag about being in the office until 2 a.m. or working weekends. Now in my 30s, the word success means working smarter rather than harder. I place more value on spending time with loved ones. I’ve realized that titles are only useful at a fancy cocktail party. I would rather be proud of a project than make a ton of money on something I wouldn't want to be credited for."

What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses as an entrepreneur and/ or WFH? “My greatest strength is having a good work ethic. I can stick to a rigid schedule and stay focused. However, my biggest weakness is overanalyzing a project. In advertising, your work gets critiqued by a lot of people and goes through many layers. When working from home, you’re the only one poking holes in your idea. Working in a team can be frustrating, but after working alone, I realize how helpful those critiques can be.

© Bernadette Sosa

© Bernadette Sosa

What is your favorite Instagram to follow? Favorite brands on social media?“I love KitKat_ch on Instagram. She's this earthy chick from Switzerland who travels around in an orange VW van and takes some pretty amazing photographs.”

What’s something few people know about you?  “As a child, my parents took me to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes a few times. I even got to meet a couple of them. I so desperately wanted to become one...they are just so Goddamn glamorous and classic New York. Unfortunately, I have knees that dislocate and terrible stage fright. I would most likely pee in my pants if I ever had to perform in front of a crowd like that.”

The Crackerjack Collective is a series of informal interviews for These New Walls, featuring my entrepreneur and/or work from home network that continuously inspires me. These interviews are meant to, in turn, inspire others looking for similar insight on what we do and the motivation to get started. Know someone extraordinary that you want to see featured in the CJC? Send us an email. x Kate, Founder, TNW