Radim Malinic is a self-taught, award-winning art director, illustrator, and graphic designer based in London, England. Like many successful artists, Radim didn’t start out as a designer. He has a degree in business management, and it wasn’t until he was 24 that he turned to full-time design and illustration. His cutting-edge, innovative designs, and bold use of color has helped boost the visibility of many household brand names, such as FUZE Beverage, Coca-Cola, Malibu, Dell, and PlayStation.

Under the name Brand Nu, Radim has applied his vast skill set to advertising campaigns, product branding, magazine covers, editorial illustrations, and Web solutions. He treats every project as a brand-new (i.e., brand nu) challenge, and never approaches a brief the same way twice. His passion to make each project better than the last and his attention to intricate detail shines through in his work.

Layers: You seem to enjoy your freedom as a freelance designer and illustrator. What are the advantages of working for yourself compared to working for an agency or running your own agency?

Malinic: The biggest advantage is the opportunity to create interesting and innovative work. If you work for an agency, you’re part of a team and the work gets diluted. Politics and extra people are involved in agencies, which can overtake the joy of each project. I opted for a freelance career for many reasons—mainly so I can choose what I do and when I do it. Obviously, it’s not a fairy tale scenario. Sometimes you have to work 18-hour days, but I’m a lot happier to be at the forefront of the creative tasks in a project. If I need to take time off, I decide when to take it and when to work.

Layers: You use agents to help promote your work and find new clients. What are the advantages of using an agent, and at what point in a designer’s career should he start thinking about using an agent?

Malinic: A good agent can help you reach clients that can be hard to get. Corporations often prefer to deal with an illustrator who has an agent. It’s a simple rule because the ad agency has a back up of the agent’s talent roster; therefore, being represented sometimes makes you a better pick for the job. I started thinking about getting an agent when I was ready to take the work up a notch. I learned a lot from my previous day jobs and I knew I could successfully freelance. I didn’t have a dream client list, but I had the right skill set.

Layers: We’ve interviewed many designers in the past who have a college degree in a subject totally unrelated to design, but they’ve always found a way to use that degree to their advantage in the design industry. Has your degree in business helped you succeed as an artist?

Malinic: My first encounter with the subjects of economics and marketing was simply enchanting. Although I dabbled with graphic design before economics, I chose to study for a business degree. I always say that a freelancer is a boss during the day and a creative at night. Having a business management background is handy, but successful design practice is a combination of common sense, good manners, and hard work.

Layers: Your work is more about setting trends instead of following them. Can you tell us a little about your style and how you strive to create something new and unique each time?

Malinic: I admire illustrators who have one style that they do all day, every day. It’s as if they’re on a diet eating just apples and never try anything different. I understand they’re comfortable that way and most are very successful. But I have the opportunity to do anything I want, any time I want. It took me a while to get to the point where I am right now, but I’m enjoying it. So I work to find new ways of applying the creative ideas, which always carry my signature style. This way my clients are open to new ideas and let me explore the unexpected.

Layers: You’ve self-published three limited-edition showcase books of your work. How have these books helped your career? Have they helped in ways that you never even imagined?

Malinic: They have helped because I did something different than my contemporaries. We’ll always have nice relationship with physical objects like books and magazines. For me, each book has opened a new set of doors and helped me grow. You can change the content of your online portfolio as often as you like, but the book stays the same forever.

Radim Malinic