Ever wondered how beautiful Photoshop effects are created? How about intricate backgrounds—seamless, abstract, and more! Welcome back to our Discover Interview Series at Envato Tuts+; this series is all about listening in on inspiring, creative professionals about the work and wisdom they’ve acquired through study, patience, and practice.
I had the pleasure of asking the lovely Carolina Silva about her work. She’s a full-time graphic design author who’s created a beautiful portfolio of colorful and inspiring works.
Some of the things that first drew me to Carolina’s works were the abstractions and distortions she’s created. There’s a certain aesthetic quality to experimenting with digital distortion and “noise”—it can make for such interesting visuals.
One of the coolest parts of this, as a spectator, is that Carolina often makes these visually experimental works available for others to enjoy in a very hands-on way—whether you’re experienced with photo manipulation or not. It adds an interesting level to her skill set, in that she not only crafts an aesthetic, but then packages and distributes these effects so that other people can use them.
Clearly, this takes both technical, software-based knowledge and keen design skills. Looking at Carolina’s portfolio, it’s difficult to pick a favorite out of her impressive collection of colorful and hypnotic visuals. I think it’s clear how much she enjoys experimenting with color.
She also told me a bit about what it’s like being a content creator who shares digital assets commercially—I think a lot of us, as creators, have felt discouraged by things like views, downloads, and financial prospects. It’s very inspiring to hear the story of someone who didn’t give up, even when things didn’t work out the first, second, or third time—and then found success through that diligence and dedication to her work.
So please join me and listen in! I hope you’re as inspired by Carolina’s work and insights as I am.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your lovely work.
Hello! I’m Carolina Silva, a full-time graphic design author based in São Paulo, Brasil.
I was around ten years old when my family bought our first computer, a Windows 93 IBM with Microsoft Paint, and I remember spending some afternoons after school drawing with a mouse. I also remember owning a digital camera that I’d carry with me all the time, taking pictures was and still is one of my passions.
Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
Starting the day with a new project from scratch is the hardest part for me. I usually don’t finish a project entirely at the end of the day, just so I can start the next day with a project that’s already on track. If I do need to start from scratch, and for whatever reason I don’t feel like I’m capable of creating something meaningful at that moment, I tend to force myself into playing around with Photoshop and Illustrator.
I also google for tutorials so I can improve my skills or learn a new software feature. These exercises are usually enough to get me going and it’s how I manage to maintain a consistent flow of productivity.
I believe curiosity and creativity [have] always walked beside me, but becoming a graphic designer was not something I decided or envisioned as a kid.
How did you get started in art and design?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, so my parents signed me up for a basic computer skills course, where I got the chance to learn the basics of Adobe graphic software and create my first website. I got compliments from my teacher and friends but I still didn’t understand or believe that I could actually become a designer. I took drawing classes when I was a teenager, but this time I was a little older and was finally able to acknowledge that I had a soft spot for art and design.
I got my first job as a web designer at 19 and 4 years ago I left my last job to become a full-time author. Ironically enough, today my parents are unable to understand what I do for a living 🙂
What do you enjoy about the work that you create—about abstract backgrounds, seamless patterns, Photoshop effects, and other aspects of your creative portfolio?
I believe art is a very intimate and timeless form of expression. It’s a tiny piece of history that transcends its creator’s existence. Being able to appreciate a piece of work that was developed a decade or a hundred years ago is what appeals to me the most about art in general.
About my work, I’d say my favorite part is that I have the privilege to express myself through it. My job mostly relies on my creativity and my ability to come up with new concepts and design ideas, which can be challenging. But it is also very rewarding because you can find inspiration everywhere, your mind never stops creating, you get to smoothly expand your consciousness, and at the end of the day, you get paid for it!
What are some valuable things you’ve learned as a creative professional?
I’ve learned that challenging yourself constantly is the best thing you can do to keep improving your skills and maintain your design fresh and up to date. Design trends are constantly changing, and you must find a way to stay ahead and benefit from these trends. I believe a good designer is someone who is always paying attention, so watching and listening carefully to what surrounds us is one of the essential ingredients to become a successful designer. A lot of practice is also essential for you to learn how to work more effectively.
I’ve also learned that not feeling completely satisfied with the outcome of your creations is actually a good thing. This means you’ll try harder next time and possibly achieve a better result. If you know in your heart that working with design is what you truly want, then don’t give up, even if at first it feels like you’re never going to make it.
What are some of your creative inspirations?
The idea of having my work literally being used and seen by people from different countries and cultures fascinates me. I’m grateful for every sale I make, because it feels like a tiny piece of me is traveling around the world, it’s like I somehow am making a connection and establishing a form of communication with people I’ll likely never meet, solely through my design.
I’d say this helps me keep my creativity alive and is what inspires me to keep pursuing a successful design career.
Could you tell us about one of your favorite things that you’ve created?
I was a bit skeptical when I started selling at GraphicRiver. Obviously, my first items didn’t bring me much money, but even their poor performance encouraged me to try harder.
I came up with a variety of items and I managed to earn more, but still not enough to make me want to stay for good. I was pretty much about to give up when I decided to try again, and once again I failed. Luckily, I tried one very last time, and this time I finally managed to create the project that would later change the course of my career: Glitch Photoshop Photo Template, the product that marks the beginning of my success as an author.
That’s so inspiring, Carolina! Could you tell us about your creative process, when developing photo effects, backgrounds, seamless patterns, or other works?
As a self-employed designer, I try to extract the most out of the so-called creative freedom that we get when we don’t have to work for someone else other than ourselves, and for this reason, I don’t have a very consistent or delimited creative process.
I’d say that introspection, doodles, sketches, research, a good amount of beautiful references and music are the basic ingredients that are usually present in my creative process, but the core ingredients for me are the ones you accidentally come across when you’re presumably not trying to create anything and, more often than not, they ironically happen when you are not sitting on your desk or scrolling through your phone. Life outside the internet is still my greatest source of distinct inspiration.
When it comes to professional or commercial work, what advice would you give other creatives?
Excellence comes with practice. You’re not going to get too far if you don’t always try your best. There are incredible artists and designers out there, so learn with them, learn how to appreciate their work and if possible, find out about their past, try to understand how they became successful artists. Don’t feel intimidated by their success. Remember that they all started from scratch, just like me and you.
I know that when we are young, we feel incredibly insecure about the quality of our creations and don’t even know how much to charge for our work and that’s okay, so consider making a few small projects for acquaintances for free or charge them a symbolic price. I believe this is a good opportunity for you to feel more confident about your design and meet potential clients.
In your opinion, what are some of the best ways to get your work into the public eye, as a creative professional?
Create exclusive content for different platforms. Make YouTube videos and talk about yourself, or create tutorials to share some of your skills. Write articles that may not necessarily be about design. Engage with your Instagram and Facebook audience. Have your own podcast if possible. Your image is just as important as the quality of your products, so I believe you need to promote yourself, not just your work.
I think people are more inclined to consume a product from someone that seems polite, reliable and professional. I think the most effective way is to make yourself present on most platforms. At the moment I have Behance, Dribbble and Pinterest and I also share bits of my work and my life with friends through my Instagram account.
Where do you think the future of Photoshop effects, abstract backgrounds, or other aspects of your craft are heading, in terms of what’s popular or on trend?
I see an increasing demand for expressive, distinct and innovating products, so I want to keep building a portfolio full of experimental and diverse design styles. For me, this is how I manage to reach multiple audiences. I’m always exploring new techniques and I love when I get to come up with a new style I thought I would never be able to.
So far my design is mostly entirely digital, but I’m also planning to expand my creations by exploring photographs and hand-made design. In the near future, I also plan to open a physical store to sell products made with my design.
What final words of encouragement or wisdom would you like to share with our audience?
Thank you for reading and for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of my story with you. If you got this far, I want to once again bring your attention to my experience.
Like I said before, I didn’t always know that I wanted to become a graphic designer, yet somehow art was always present in my life, and at some point I was finally able to listen to my inner voice and understand that I should dedicate a part of my life to art and design.
What I’m trying to share with you is that I believe that not knowing exactly who you are and who you shall become is just fine and is part of the process of life. Changing your mind and your beliefs is alright too. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to others. There’s little to nothing to gain from this harsh view and judgments we tend to put on ourselves.
Instead, try to capture this energy and use it to express yourself and your ideas. Of course it’s easier said than done, but the way you see the world is unique, there is no one else but you in this world capable of expressing yourself like you do, so try your best to listen to your inner voice, embrace the authenticity you have inside yourself and use it in your favor.
A big thank you to Carolina Silva for sharing her work, her thoughts, and her insights with us today! Your work, as well as your determination to succeed, are really very admirable.
Check out more of Carolina’s work here:
That said, in addition to the links above, let’s check out some more of Carolina’s wonderful work over on Envato Elements. These are beautiful, professionally designed add-ons and assets that you can use in your next design project. Please do consider supporting this wonderful artist.
Check out this easy-to-use and versatile Photoshop effect! I downloaded it and gave it a try myself; it’s really easy to apply your own imagery via Smart Objects and then freely experiment with the many visual options here. Give it a try—it’s awesome!
This is one of Carolina’s many beautiful backgrounds. This one comes in a variety of colors, with five different options to choose from—but remember to check out her entire portfolio! There are so many beautiful abstract backgrounds to see!
Here’s another one of Carolina’s wonderful Photoshop effects. They’re really user-friendly, and there’s so much you can do with them. It’s both fun and simple to import your work and start experimenting with these awesome visual effects.
Hypnotic, right? This geometric pattern could look great in such a wide variety of design situations! There are 39 different options included with this set of backgrounds too—yes, 39!
Looking to experiment with color in your photos? Check out this collection of 21 photo effects for Adobe Photoshop. Best part is, they’re non-destructive, so your original photo will still be intact as you experiment.
Enjoyed this interview? Looking for more inspiration, or maybe more information on Photoshop effects, backgrounds, and more? Check out these articles and tutorials from Envato Tuts+!