Career and Life Lessons from 2 Years as a UX Researcher
10 March 2022
10 Mins Read
Breathing, Living, Exploring; Creating Patterns with Oris Eddu
I’m Oris Eddu, an artist and illustrator, and founder of Breathe Live Explore. Breathe Live Explore is an Illustration brand that creates art that reflects positivity and mindfulness.
My illustrations can be found on products like stationery, mugs, fabrics, and different everyday products. I work with brands and clients over the board, and I license my artwork on different products, like fashion, apparel, homeware, and things like that.
Have you always been in the design industry?
Art and Design were not in the plan at all; even though I have always loved drawing and designing. I started out with a degree in Microbiology and I have a Master’s in Applied Computing and I.T. I also have an MBA. I always wanted to have a course in IT management, I learned to code and build a website.
The first tool I learned was CorelDraw; I think I was 13. It was around the time my parents encouraged me to enroll in computer training. I fell in love with CorelDraw and started designing at 13. I used to play around with graphics. During my MSc, I took up a part-time job in graphic design. It was voluntary work actually and all through, I used my skills in CorelDraw to design. I have also had a flair for IT as well.
In 2015, I returned to Nigeria after my Master’s and I wasn’t sure of where to start. I just knew I didn’t want to work for anybody — so I was just diving into different things in business development because of my MBA. I also love to help people create business plans and all that.
I joined GetUp Inc with Tomi and we did a couple of projects together in design and business development. Along the way, I took up art classes for kids at the park and it lasted for about three months and that was where my interest started. I also volunteered for a gallery in 2015 in Lagos Island. I would think that the arts and design have always been there.
We would think so too. Hahaha
“Breathe Live Explore” was a business blog at the time, the niche was a blog for millennial entrepreneurs. My niche at that time was curating business resources with infographics. I would design infographics on Canva or Coreldraw and then add tips. At that time, infographics were the trend.
Unfortunately in 2017, I lost all materials on the blog.
Oh wow, that must have been a sad experience
It was. I lost all resources on the blog due to some issues with my hosting company and I had no backup. I couldn’t continue the blog because of that.
Started my first 9-5 in June 2019. I got bored — the 9-5 life was not for me at all. While I was working, I was learning Illustrator and I designed some planners and pasted them on my IG. On the planner, I illustrated the cover and the interior and it was really good. I got some clients from friends and family. I changed the Breathe Live Explore to an art page and I just started doing artwork. I started posting illustrations, read books, joined Skillshare, conducted research, got mood boards on Pinterest, started learning Illustrator from different people on YouTube. I just kept on posting.
What would you consider as your big break in your design journey?
I would say the big break came in 2020, during the Black Lives Matter campaign, I did an illustration of a girl with an afro with a #BlackLivesMatter lettering and shared it on Instagram. I was intentional about the kind of people that followed me and I made sure that my posts were reaching a global audience. There was an Instagram story by an artist with over one hundred thousand followers and in the caption, she asked people to tag black artists they know. I tagged myself just because.
That became a game-changer for me. She checked my page and shared a couple of artworks from my page and I got about two thousand followers from that alone. At that point, I was learning how to create patterns because I fell in love with surface design patterns for products and fabrics. At that time, I was not specific on styles and colors, I just kept sharing my posts. I knew that I would love to see my work on products that people use. People kept on asking me how they could buy my artwork and I didn’t have a defined style. I then got emails from brands on collaborations
My first commission was to design the cover of a journal cover. I joined a Facebook group for female entrepreneurs — there were hardly any Nigerians on there. I posted my work, and I got a lot of good reviews. From there, I got my first client — she liked my work and wanted me to work on a project with her
What are the different things you have tried your hands on?
- With Microbiology, absolutely nothing. Immediately after NYSC, I travelled for my Master’s degree
- During my MBA, I didn’t take any other work. A year later, I returned to Nigeria. I joined GetUpInc, learnt how to build a website from scratch. I started building websites using WordPress and I handled website gigs for the clients. I have worked on over 10 websites and different business proposals.
- I joined Fiverr and started selling business models and proposals.
- I used to be a facilitator at a summer program named Young at Art to teach kids arts and crafts like how to make arts with paper and scissors which was an innate skill for me.
- I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2016 and Getweded got selected. In 2017, we got funded and we drafted a web application for couples to plan their events and wedding planners to come onboard. It was a big idea but we had issues with tech, y partner and I were not techies. So we got duped — the person didn’t deliver.
Seeing that you have worked as a designer, business developer, and information analyst, how have you been able to balance all of these?
When I started, it was overwhelming. I needed to drop some things I was working on to focus on my art & illustrations. At the time, I didn’t expect so much attention. I had to be calm because I was in charge of everything. The good thing was that a few clients were requesting new works. My first client wanted to do high custom work for her products and that was the first big commission.
What were the other challenges you faced that time?
The other challenge was working from home, there was no excuse for delivering on my work. I mean, you’re dealing with paying clients and you just have to deliver. I had to start working at night with clients based on the timezone.
How did you deal with creative blocks during this time?
There is always a creative block for every designer, it’s normal. I tried not to give myself excuses.
Self-motivation helps and I signed up for different art memberships, creative clubs and subscriptions with like-minded creatives during the time. I shared my challenges, wins, issues and they were encouraging. I had an accountability partner, we met on Instagram and that helped me. Every Sunday, we would have a meeting on what we achieved the past week and discuss our plans for the new week. That helped. I was spending a lot of time on Pinterest because I could not go out to see other places for inspiration. Sometimes, I would go out of state to look for gardens and similar scenery for inspiration.
I did spontaneous travel and within those days, I would have worked on some content I could share with people. There was a lot of talking to myself positively, reading affirmations, and having confessions. I spent a lot of time doing research and learning different skills like typography, painting, hand lettering, and lots more.
How was your social media growth? What was the peak of your growth?
It wasn’t a one-day thing. When I shared an artwork, at times, I would get about 500-1000 likes and get like 100 new followers in a day. In the first week, I had about 3,000 to 4,000 new followers. This growth has increased my income, raised my visibility, and brought me clients that I never expected.
So, what are the next steps for you?
I want to do more homeware, home decor and focus a lot on fabrics and apparel. Whatever I choose to do, art is involved. I might decide to start another brand or company but there is always going to be art involved.
There is a lot of information you’re yet to find out about Oris and her love for art and design, check out her website right away.
So You Are a Senior Designer?
Design Nudge: An Approach to Creating Human-Centered Designs.