Freelancing comes naturally to very few. Typical 'self-employed' journeys consist of intense struggle, the stress creeps up on you the first thing after opening your eyes and doesn't really ever leave, apart from a few restless hours at night. What frightens freelancers the most? Is it making enough money or being good at the work they dream of? Lot's of people become freelancers almost accidentally - they are excellent at what they do and the work comes to them seamlessly.
Is there a strategy to success? Alexander Taralezhkov looks healthy, happy and anything but anxious or exhausted. In Alex's world play is equal to work and so he steadily sails through stormy days & nights. He's the freelance head of design at Busaba Eathai, the creative director of Code Quarterly publication and now Alex is also setting up his own Taralezhkov Design House.
Annie Dillard once said: "How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives". Keeping in mind Alex specialises in Hospitality design, we gathered a collection of everyday images he took with his iPhone and shared on social media - they are full of curiosity, constant research and simple enjoyment. We also talked about decisions he made even before joining university, the importance of having a direction and carefully choosing the work you do.
Ok Alex, how did you go about deciding what to study and choosing the university - in your case the country too?
Product design felt like a field where there was a good balance between creativity and structure. Camberwell College of Arts is where I did my foundation year followed by bachelors at Central Saint Martins. Both were recommended to me. Interestingly I have never been to the UK before I moved here for university. In fact the first impression of London I had was emerging from the underground at Elephant and Castle. I remember being surprised by how many brick buildings there were around.
What was your first job after university? Did you feel a huge pressure to go and get a job or did you consider freelancing?
I was at a merchandising company, which worked with the film industry. The CEO was quite a character. Everything was manufactured in China pretty much overnight. For one of my first projects there I created a sword-shaped flash drive, which got held at customs, categorised as a weapon.
I’ve never known the security of a permanent job, as I had always been a freelancer up until recently, when I set up my own company – Taralezhkov Design House. Freelancing could be a struggle at times, but it does foster discipline, as well as allowing you to be in charge and be creative with your work.
What do you think are the biggest fears when leaving education and what do you think when looking back at it?
I never thought it was something to be afraid of, in my mind It was rather exciting. Recently I came to realise that I am one for the long run, sprinting is not really my thing, so I guess I just let things unfold naturally now. That really allowed me to shake off the pressure and focus on what I find important for growing as a designer.
Can you describe your work and a typical day at the office?
Hospitality design and direction is what I like to call it. For me it encompasses the broad range of things we do from product and graphics through to digital and branding. A day at the office I suppose is quite varied; I could be styling a food photography photo shoot one day or working on the new brand direction the next.
You have been working at Busaba Eathai for a long time and you have seen the company grow from a few small restaurants to an international group. How did it affect your personal growth?
I have certainly learned how to work with different people, which is so important for a designer. After all they are my clients. Sometimes it is from the least expected source you learn the most. Personal example is very important.
What do you think are the qualities of a modern designer and what skills really earn promotions?
Creativity and professionalism. I enjoy the fact that more and more boundaries are breaking down between different disciplines too. I would like to see a more holistic approach to design throughout all.
You have been collaborating with Code London. Can you tell us more about the project?
We are currently working on the second issue of the CODE Quarterly publication, which is distributed around some of London’s best restaurants, hotels, bars and private members’ clubs. The second issue would be coming out towards the end of this year. It is a very exciting project as we are given a lot of creative freedom. The magazine will be growing, getting better and I hope that we would create something that everyone from the Hospitality industry would be anticipating. The entire CODE project is certainly one to watch, especially with it launching in New York soon.
If you had to describe the thought process… how did the development look like, what issues did you encounter and how did initial idea change?
I think with CODE Quarterly the key word is quality. The written content has always been to a high standard it just had to match that level visually. It is still a project in its early days, a lot of work to be done.
How do you keep the balance between personal life and work outside of work?
Design isn’t something you really ever switch off from. But I like that it doesn’t feel like a burden, quite the opposite. I also aim to work with people I enjoy spending time with, which helps.
Where can we find you hanging out with friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon?
You will have a good chance if you swing by the Barbican.
Not only do we follow Alex's journey through design, over time he has created a collection perfectly portraying London's food scene, new openings, hidden gems, and state-of-art dinners with friends. It may also be proof that not every freelancer spends days tucked in bed with a builders cuppa - freelancing symbolises the freedom of mind, body and soul: