This week we talk to Manchester-based creatives Laura Frances Heitzman and Foxanne about navigating freelance life, female friendships and working in North.
Lovely to speak with you both, can you tell us a bit about yourselves, what you do and how did you meet?
L: I’m from Manchester, I’m a freelance illustrator, mural artist and designer. I currently work from home, but I’m hoping to get into a really cool studio sometime soon.
F: I’m also from Manchester, I’m an artist, illustrator, designer, just an all round creative gal. I always find it weird to introduce myself, if its creative, I’ll give it a go! I currently work from a studio and my little doggo studio assistant, Luna, comes with me.
L: We met online through Instagram. We slid into each others DM’s!
F: A few weeks after meeting on Instagram, we realised we both lived down the road from each other, such a small world!
The podcast sounds like a great idea, how did you come to the decision to make one?
L: Well, we realised we had so much to talk about. We were always talking in depth about the creative industry as we are both freelance designers, problems we’ve faced and great things that have happened to us. We also had loads in common and talked a lot about our lives and realised we were having a LOT of deep chats, so we thought why not have these conversations on a podcast.
F: We wanted to try something new together and we feel like we could help people who are just starting out in the industry. We’re both very open, sometimes too open haha! With being very present on social media, I’ve gotten used to speaking to an audience on my Instagram stories, but I felt like we had a lot to say so long-form content felt like the next step. I’d wanted to start a podcast for a few years now but after a deep FaceTime chat with Laura we both thought it would be nice to do it together.
What would you like listeners to get out of the podcast?
F: When I’m in the studio by myself I stick podcasts on so I feel like I’m not by myself. Working for yourself can be quite lonely. I find educational podcasts super helpful, but sometimes it can be very info heavy, I struggle with my attention, I can’t casually listen to informational podcasts, I have to actively listen to them. But I wanted to create something that is Laura and I waffling about our lives and our careers with little educational tips that people can subconsciously take in.
L: For me, podcasts help me to feel less alone whilst I’m working at home by myself because being self employed can be really lonely. It would be really lovely to know that we could be that for other people in the same situation. We want to be as honest as possible, and for people to know that they will get full transparency when they listen to the podcast so it can be comforting to know that it isn’t all rosey and we have ups and downs too.
What have been some of the positives and drawbacks of making a podcast?
L: For me, I feel like the biggest drawback is the time it takes to plan, produce and edit etc. Its very time consuming but it’s definitely going to be worth it for sure. I’d say the most positive thing is being able to connect with so many people. We’ve already connected with lots of creatives and business owners, and that list is only going to grow, especially when we get more guests on board.
F: Following on from Laura, the content creation and the planning is very time consuming as we produce, film, plan edit, schedule everything ourselves. Me and Laura are chatting everyday on voice notes about our lives or the podcast. Because we spend so much time together now I really think it has helped our friendship blossom. Crazy to think we only met each other in real life less than a year ago! The positives are definitely meeting so many people through it. The community we are already building through our podcast honestly makes the long nights and frantic FaceTime calls worth it. I couldn’t of chosen a better friend to go on this journey with.
What individual perspectives do you bring to the podcast?
L: We both have different design backgrounds. I studied fashion design at university whereas Foxanne studied contemporary art. I worked in the industry as a designer working for a supplier for two years before going freelance, and Foxanne went straight into freelancing so its great we have those different experiences.
F: Laura creates sassy illustrations of powerful women in fashion, which she then sells products in her shop, whereas I focus more on typography and funky random illustrations and I work with a lot of businesses on their branding, product design, surface pattern design etc. With us both coming from different starting points, Laura with her fashion and me with my painting and contemporary art I think we both give different perspectives. I’ve never worked ‘in industry’ so I find myself invalidating my skill which we’ve found a lot of freelance artists who have never worked in industry feel the same way too. It’s great to have us both share our own views on things.
Outside of that, what are you both currently working on?
L: I’m working on some new products for my shop. I’m also booking in for lots of markets around Manchester too, I want to make sure I have at least one booked every weekend because I love meeting customers and other small business owners, its great to get that social element to the job. I’m working on some t-shirt designs with a new brand that’s soon-to-launch in the next couple of months, I cant wait to share what we’ve been working on soon. I also have a potential mural design in a bakery which is really exciting.
F: I’ve recently shut my online shop after two years to focus on client work. So scary yet so exciting. I’m currently working on my rebrand for my business and I’ve got a few branding projects for clients on the go plus repeat pattern designs for some international clients. I’m also trying to learn how to create art for me again, a big switch up in styles is happening. Its all go go go in the world of Foxanne at the mo!
Both Manchester-based, what are some of your favourite things about the city?
L: Where do I start! I just love it here. It’s a very friendly city, I’d say. Most northern cities are I think. There’s a very arty vibe in Manchester which I love, the street art is incredible. There are loads of really cool independent businesses here. The Northern Quarter is my favourite, there’s so many cool bars, restaurants, coffee shops, vintage shops and boutiques there. I just love it, its amazing.
F: I don’t think I could ever move out of Manchester, when I have days out in different cities by the end of the day I just want to get back here. I love the people, omg the people are so nice! I think Laura has summed it up nicely, there’s something for everyone. There’s so many people from all sorts of walks of life and we all have lobby chats over a nice cold pint of craft beer.
Laura, you recently created illustrated calendar depicting a range of women in different parts of the city, do you find Manchester an inspiring place, creatively speaking?
L: Yes, I feel like every time I walk around town I feel inspired. Like I said earlier, there’s so much street art and there’s so many fabulous people wearing fabulous clothes too, everyone is encouraged to be an individual here. I love the architecture too, which is why I really enjoyed creating the illustrations for the calendar.
How about you Foxanne?
F: Manchester forever inspires me. Manchester celebrates art like no other city (imo). Nothing ever stays the same, I’ve lived here all my life but each time I go into town I always see something new.
Where do you think are some of the best creative places to hang out or work in Manchester?
L: Again, the Northern Quarter is my favourite overall place. In terms of specific places, I love Feel Good club, Foundation Coffee House, Chapter One Books and Ezra & Gil are my faves to both hang out in and work at too.
F: Kiera and Aimie who founded the Feel Good club are amazing. I used to go to the Freelance Fridays they used to host when they had less than 10k followers. What they have built is amazing and if you are in Manchester do go and visit! Everywhere in Manchester is so inclusive and so calming, I suffer with social anxiety but whenever I go anywhere in Manchester I feel like people get it? Myself and Laura have our face-to-face meetings in Sale Foodhall, they always have cool independent food places and they allow doggos. So my little Rescue staffy luna comes along.
What’s next for you both?
L: We actually just released a podcast episode about our goals for 2022. Personally, I want to focus on growing my mural and window art portfolio this year, along with growing my shop and working on a consistent income for myself so I have more stability.
F: I’m really manifesting big things for 2022. This is a big goal of ours but we would love to do a live show of one of our podcasts and have a panel of guests on. How cool would that be????!! Personally, I plan to work with some big brands and add those to my portfolio, I would love to go back to my routes of painting and do some murals, but 2022 is going to be about making money, making friends and building a community we can be proud of.