Manuela Pacheco from Studio Maco


In the design world, going from a full-time position at an agency, to going it alone as a freelance designer is a brave step. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to finding your own clients and running a business is not always easy. Manuela Pacheco is a designer, that has done just this. Taking the plunge this year with the launch of her design studio, ‘Studio Maco’. She creates inspired work for clients, with an emphasis on stunning hand-lettering and beautiful motifs. Her balance of professionalism and creative passion is something I admire greatly. At just a few months into her freelance career she has embraced the great benefits, one in particular that is inherent in the word, ‘free’ or in fact the ‘freedom’. It allows you to dictate on your creative practice. Recently I had the pleasure of photographing her in her home studio, discuss her advice for anyone deciding to become self-employed and to ask, why she doesn’t work in pyjamas.

Spotlight On | Manuela Pacho from Studio Maco | Rebecca Hawkes Diary

Tell me your story. How did you come to work in the graphic design world?
I’ve always been doing something creative while growing up, I was always taking drawing classes and participating in some art related competitions. But its after high school that I’ve decided I wanted to study graphic design and visual communication, which I did in Paris at L’École de Condé. I then traveled in Australia and ended up very randomly working freelance for M&C Saatchi for a few months.
I was drawn to study graphic design because I want to create things everyday, I can’t stand doing nothing with my 2 hands. I’m always doing something like drawing, using my calligraphy nibs, cutting and glueing.
I also really liked the idea that I can work hand in hand with my clients, to help them create what they need. That I can be an extension of their mind and history, translating it into creative work.

What keeps you motivated daily?
I think it is the excitement of creating something new everyday. There is not one day similar to the other and I love that!
I also like personal side projects (‘procrastiwork’ as Jessica Hisches calls it) When I suddenly have something in mind I have to make it and get it out of my system! After, I find it easier to focus on client related work.

Spotlight On | Manuela Pacho from Studio Maco | Rebecca Hawkes Diary

What has the most impact or influence on your work?
I get inspired by pretty much everything: colors, photography, fashion design, textures, nature, music etc. In addition, my client’s personal histories influence my work a lot.

How do you stay inspired on a regular basis?
I stay curious! I try to learn things everyday (I love Skillshare for that!), and I spend a fare amount of time on Pinterest or design related blogs.


What is your advice for designers choosing to work freelance?
My first advice is “go for it”, it’s never going to be the “right” time so you might as well do it now. Then try to save a bit of money or work part time somewhere else, just to be sure you can actually afford to eat every day for the first few months.
Another gold rule is, never work in your pyjamas! I know it personally slows my workflow to be in my pj’s unshowered and “floppy” all day.
I’d say the last one is stick to a strict planning and agenda. I’m ready to work in front of my computer around 8.30 am, and usually finished around 6pm. I take a 30 min lunch break, and I definitely should take more breaks during the day. I’m still working on that!

Spotlight On | Manuela Pacho from Studio Maco | Rebecca Hawkes Diary

Spotlight On | Manuela Pacho from Studio Maco | Rebecca Hawkes Diary

First website you turn to for inspiration?
Design Work Life (they just stopped producing content, but their archive is amazing)

The first thing that starts your day right?
A big caffe Latte and soft indie electro music. The sun shining is definitely a plus!

Digital or print?
Print, hands down.

Magazine or book?

Favourite project?
Pippin & Otto Studios visual identity.

Spotlight On | Manuela Pacho from Studio Maco : Instagram Feed | Rebecca Hawkes Diary

A big thank you to Manuela for taking time to reply to my question! To see more from Studio Maco visit the website here. You can also follow Manuela’s Instagram feed for up to date behind the scenes images and hand-lettering updates.