Freelance advice

Illustrating for Flow Magazine

Illustrating for Flow Magazine

It’s December 2009. I just got offered a new job as an art director and my then-boyfriend gave me this brand new shiny magazine to celebrate. I flipped through the magazine and said: “one day I hope to be in this!”

This was the very first edition of Flow Magazine.

Fast forward 3,5 years later: one of the people of Flow Magazine emails me to ask if I would be interested to do hand lettering for the Book for Paper Lovers.
“Interested? I would friggin’ love it!”

Flow Magazine Handlettering - Book for Paperlovers

The assignment was to make hand lettered quotes for the first edition of this Flow special. I was over the moon that I got to work for them and I am still proud of the work I did for the book.
After that, I did a lot of hand lettering for the philosophy articles. For the Dutch edition, but also the French, German and International editions.

Flow Magazine International Edition

Evolving as an illustrator

This is how I started working for one of my absolutely favourite magazines. I’m a fan since the very beginning, and I have been contributing to the magazine for over three years now.

I started doing hand lettering for them, and shifted towards making illustrations in 2014.
Hand lettering is something I love but in my gut I knew I was a better fit for Flow making illustrations. So I took a deep breath, and emailed them if I could do illustrations instead of hand lettering. And they thought it was a good idea! I got to do some tricky but yet very awesome assignments, like making a DIY paper studio and a paper house of which you can open the windows. That’s right up my alley!

A couple of months ago, the art director asked me if I would like to make a few short comics for the vacation book. I was ecstatic! Everyone that knows me, knows I love making personal comics. I got to make 5 one-page-comics about my personal experiences of going on vacation with your new boyfriend (see below).

Comics for Flow Magazine Handlettering Flow Magazine

Working with a ‘wishlist-client’

Working with Flow was high on my wishlist and I’m very happy I could check it off my list. During workshops and when I’m drawing at events, I hear that a lot of people read the magazine, and of course: there are always people that hope to write or illustrate for them as well.
How to get working with your favourite client, is a subject I eleborately talk about during my workshops, but I would love to share it here as well.

Comics Flow Magazine Illustration

Get a solid portfolio

Make sure you have a portfolio that clearly shows your style. I can’t emphasize this is enough but: it’s not about the quantity but the quality. Rather have 4 illustrations in your portfolio that are really nice, than to have 20 that are just so-so.
Ditch all the items from your portfolio you don’t feel good about, or isn’t the style you would like to be working. Make sure your portfolio is viewable online, on a website for example but also have a PDF ready with examples of your work.

If you have a wishlist-client, make sure you have work that fits their magazine/website/product. Go make illustrations in your spare time that you absolutely love, and would fit the clients you aim for. I can recommend not emailing the particular client every week or month, but just try once or twice. If they don’t respond, just do what you were doing before.

What really worked for me was being on social media, like instagram. Flow saw my work there for the first time, so it really works to post your work there.

I honestly believe that it will come to you if it’s meant to be.

More tips on freelancing

In the next few weeks, I will write more about how to approach clients, tips on freelancing and being an illustrator. So keep checking the blog!
You can easily keep track of my posts by following it through Bloglovin’ or liking my Facebook-page.

If you want to know the ins and outs about this subject, or other illustration questions, I can recommend joining me for one of my workshops. It’s fun, casual and you go home with a bunch of tips! Sign up for my newsletter if your preferred workshop is fully booked.


For now, I hope you enjoyed this post and if you know someone who might enjoy it too: please share it forward 🙂

Marloes De Vries












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  • Reply Bonnie at

    Marloes, wat geweldig om te lezen. Dankjewel voor het delen. Ik sta wat ondernemen betreft nog in de kinderschoenen, maar diep in mijn hart weet ik dat ik hier naartoe wil, op mijn manier dan. Ben op de goede weg. Mooi om jou te volgen en van je tips te leren. Fijne dag. Liefs ☕️

    • Reply Annet at

      Tuurlijk heb ik je vakantie strip gelezen in Flow en er heerlijk om kunnen lachen! Geweldig wanneer je in je favoriete magazine mag illustreren.. hoop dat ook ik ooit een hoekje in een tijdschift mag vullen..

    • Reply Marloes at

      Veel succes Bonnie! Ik geloof dat koppigheid en volhouden altijd de magische woorden zijn 🙂

  • Reply mariska eyck at

    Bedankt, Marloes! Goede tips en vooral goed te doen! Groetjes, Mariska Eyck

  • Reply Renske at

    Fijne blog! Thanks!

  • Reply Viktor at

    Mooie blog en foto’s weer Marloes!

    Warme groet, Viktor

  • Reply Rensina Steursma at

    Ja ik zag je geweldig leuke strip in het vakantie boek en herkende je meteen!
    Superleuk zeg en zo tof dat je steeds vaker wordt gevraagd om illustraties voor hun te mogen maken.

  • Reply Jocelyn de kwant at

    Grappig om dit te lezen, ik geloof dat ik dat was die jou mailde voor de eerste opdracht :).
    En yep, het was je Instagram account, Irene volgde jou toen geloof ik.
    En yep jouw verzoek om ook andere dingen te tekenen was een gouden zet!

    • Reply Marloes at

      Ik dacht het ook, maar durfde het niet met zekerheid te zeggen. Ooooh, wat was dat toen fijn, dat mailtje! Bedankt nog dan 😉
      En ja, Irene zag mijn werk daar, vertelde ze me later.
      Zo blij dat Flow daarin mee wilde! Het voelde ook meteen goed, om naar illustraties te gaan. Je groeit, en als anderen in die groei mee willen, dan kan je alleen maar dankbaar zijn <3

  • Reply Pascal at

    Mooie tips veel inspirerende woorden! Zie je op insta graag voorbij komen.

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