Belu Design

We got the chance to chat with Bel Ramos of Belu Design, who is full of great advice for designers and students. She chats to us about her ad agency background and moving into design studios; shares some valuable advice on pricing yourself as a freelancer and setting boundaries as an intern, and gives us the advice that putting yourself out there is easier when you're asking for a review of your folio.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I’m originally from Argentina, so I studied at Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires. My first job was at an advertising agency and I remember being terrified they would find out I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, I had a wonderful creative director that was very patient and showed me the ropes.

Eventually, I moved on from advertising into design studios, which suited me a lot better, but I’m really glad I got to experience both. Advertising is a lot more focused on the idea while design pays closer attention to the craft and execution. The combination of both made me value well-crafted design with a strong concept behind it.

What are your three must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

Since I started freelancing I’ve been trying to inform myself more on the business side of design and understanding how to price my work properly, which I know is a common struggle for designers. So, I’ve recently purchased The Psychology of Graphic Design Pricing by Michael Janda — the title of the book is a bit of a mouthful, but he gives really valuable advice on how to price your work, calculating your production costs and understanding market value.

A few of my favourite design blogs would have to be Identity Designed for branding, Typewolf for typography and The Dieline for packaging.

A podcast I’ve been listening to lately is On Process by Adam Busby, he interviews designers and artists about their personal process which I always find inspiring.

Design work by Belu Design The Design Kids interviews Belu Design work-2

What’s your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

I think internships are great if the arrangement is mutually beneficial. When I was starting out all I wanted was the opportunity to design, learn, and build my portfolio. Unfortunately, I was also young and didn’t know how to talk about money, so I probably worked for free for a bit too long.

I think internships should be paid, they should only last for a certain period of time, and there should be an upfront conversation about what the studio and intern are hoping to get out of the experience.

I’m not taking any interns at the moment, but hopefully next year!

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

It’s a simple one, but a piece of advice that helped me get through my early days as a designer was “don’t take it personally”. I used to get extremely frustrated every time feedback came back from a client because I was too attached to my work. As time went by I developed thicker skin, but I also learnt to justify my design decisions better. Whenever I work for a client now, I make sure the conversation is around the design communicating the right message and not someone’s likes or dislikes. It’s been a much easier process since then.

Design work by Belu Design The Design Kids interviews Belu Design work-4
Design work by Belu Design The Design Kids interviews Belu Design work-4

Ask for an opinion, not a job.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

I’ve recently collaborated with a friend of mine who is a talented illustrator (Max Paenza) on a personal project that combined a few of our passions: design, illustration and beer. We both love packaging, so we challenged ourselves to create the branding and packaging for a brewery that we called Wild Brewing Co. The idea was to create a spirit animal for each of the flavours that would capture the essence of the beer.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

I’ll have to steal this one from Kevin Finn. I once heard him giving a guest lecture and a student asked for his advice on getting a job, and he said: “Ask for an opinion, not a job”. I found that so relevant because that’s how I got my first job. I had a single contact in the industry and asked if he would review my portfolio. It turns out he liked my work and had a friend that was looking for a junior. It’s easy to get a “no” if you ask for a job, but chances are someone will take 5 minutes out of their day to review your portfolio, and you never know where that connection might lead.

Design work by Belu Design The Design Kids interviews Belu Design work-6
Design work by Belu Design The Design Kids interviews Belu Design work-6

Where to find Belu Design online.

Website: belu.design

Instagram: @belu.design

Get involved