Vitali Zahharov is an art-director and designer from Estonia, who has been helping various brands, regardless of their size, effectively find a common language between their product and customers for more than eight years. Vitali’s portfolio includes UFC, Royal Caribbean, Naumi, Oracle, Syn, Universal Music Group, Thrive Market and others. Vitaly stands out for his attentiveness to the smallest details and typography. You can find out more his works here –

Could you please tell us about yourself and how you made your way as a designer?

It all began in 2011, when I was still working as a Ruby on Rails developer, but I already knew that this was my way to nowhere. I did not see any prospects for myself, probably because it was too boring for me to sit and optimize the code, check bugs, write documentation and look at the dark screen, because nothing interesting was happening there. In parallel with my work, I was interested in Photoshop. I did not do anything serious there: I edited photos for my friends and drew primitive logos. One day I thought – maybe I should make my own website, register a domain and show everyone what I can do. And I did that. By the end of 2011, the design began to fascinate me more and more. In the beginning of 2012, it completely became dominant, and I realized that this is exactly the moment when I should choose and finally I did not make a mistake with the choice. I chose the design. Of course, the first years I was without any clients at all and I was actually drawing for myself. I was working for my portfolio, knowing that the time when it would work for me would come. So it happened, first I got a job as a designer in a local company that dealt with loans within the country and abroad. By the way, the latter thing worked in favor as I gained experience with the international team. After that, for certain family reasons, I was working mostly remotely for all agencies, including Fantasy, Traffic digital agency, and Y media labs. I started traveling more. I had the experience of working as an Art Director in Singapore, where I stayed unfortunately not for long (just over a year), but during this time I got perhaps the greatest experience of all time – this can include not only work, but all areas of life including social and domestic. There I managed to work with the giants of Asia and Australia including JLL, Naumi Hotels, Toshiba, and even with the government of Singapore, for which we built a real estate evaluation system in the country.

Today I work as a designer and art Director, helping my clients (although I prefer the word friends) to find visual solutions to their issues. Tasks are sometimes very interesting, which makes my work even more exciting. So, going back to 2011 and thinking – whether to go design or develop in programming, I would still choose design. Although I would like you to note that now the era of live and interesting sites that draw is one thing, but bring to real life is completely different.

Do you work remotely now or do you go to the office?

Now I work remotely, I am mixing travel with work. I could not have made working from the office.

Please, tell us about your day.

I try to check my email in the morning, answer all questions in messengers, look through tasks for a day and so on. Then, based on it I make a plan for the day. Working as a freelancer at home is not easy in fact, no one is standing over you, you do not have any time restrictions. When I first started working like this, sometimes I worked for 18-20 hours a day, but then I realized that something had to change and it should not be like this. I made a schedule for myself. I usually start working after lunch, finishing around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. It also helps me have various meetings, briefings, since most of the people I work with are in the USA, and understanding the need to coincide with them – this schedule fits perfectly. From morning to dinner – I am completely free and can devote time to my family, for example.

Do you have any tips on how to be productive?

Perhaps you should start by identifying when you are most productive. In the morning, afternoon or in the evening? What do you need for this? For example, it is highly important for me to have my own workplace; I sat for a very long time at the dining table in the kitchen, which sometimes did not allow me to concentrate on work: I always had to put my laptop away when guests came to us or when we had a dinner, which greatly irritated me.

You should also divide the tasks. It is important to remember that you cannot do everything at once; you need to understand this, because I have seen people who directly burned at work, taking on all the questions and did not delegate responsibilities while delegating tasks would help you save valuable time and do your work perfectly.

Stop thinking about what you did wrong or what could have been better. It will always be like this, because you can always do better. Today you have done a task very well, a day will pass and you will think differently. This is a very bad habit and you need to give it up on the first day. I always try to avoid it.

What is the biggest problem working as a freelancer and remotely?

For me, it is loneliness and the feeling that my hands are going down. Of course, for me, there is a certain degree of isolation that is necessary for productive work, but most of the working day with almost no interaction with other people can be a big problem. Then, I intend to stay in touch with the people around me. Scheduled meetings at work, trips to the store with my wife, sometimes dinners with friends – this is what helps me to deal with these types of disadvantages and not just be alone with myself.

What do you like about your work?

Actually, a lot of things! I like the design process itself: from discussing ideas to implementing them. I also test what the developers have done, so I always know exactly how the product should work and how the integration between the client and the application that we just released should look like.

I like flexibility in my work. I find the time to solve problems and tasks by myself. I like that only I can control it. I am not saying that I would never return to corporate mode, on the contrary, I sometimes think that I may have sat too long without an office. Alone, and even at home, it is difficult to maintain discipline, but I must try.

Do you have your favorite project?

There is probably no favorite project. As I mentioned earlier, the next day after project completion I see problems, shortcomings and so on. But if we are talking about a project where I least see any problems, then this is the site for the Ultimate Fighting Championship –, the Royal Caribbean app -there is excellent animation of the ship and weather conditions. It is also a wonderful interactive map that you want to look at for a long time. Also I would highlight, this is the website of a huge retail company focused on healthy food. I enjoy the colors and animation there. We tried to make sure that people fully understand the product, learn its history, where it came from and why and not just see the final product. I generally like sites with a history where you can just endlessly scroll through the site. Another great example –, this is a health company that offers plant-based solutions, in this case, cannabis. Despite the fact that the site turned out to be very minimalistic, we were working for it for a whole year.

How do you continue to attract customers?

I have never done any advertising. All the clients who came either found me through Behance or Dribble, or through a friend. The most important thing, probably, is to make necessary, at the same time, difficult decisions that make you an expert. I think that is why people want to work with me. Creating trust between the client and me is a goal number one for me, because it makes the whole process much more efficient and easier. Of course, each approach is individual. The main thing is to love what you do and try to show it in your work.

In your opinion, which three properties that a designer should have?

Discipline, enthusiasm, resilience.

Thank you very much! Could you please tell a few words to our readers?

Work hard!