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Alexandra Nel: On Resilience, Freelance & Finding Your ‘Why’

Melbourne-based Motion Graphics Designer Alexandra Nel (Alexa) is a strong woman with a unique worldview. Growing up in South Africa and New Zealand, she has seen what inequality looks like and has cultivated a resilience and empathy that enriches both her work and friendships. Despite a difficult start in the advertising industry, she rose to create a successful freelance business that tripled her income and provided the freedom to fine tune her ‘why’.

How did you come to work as a freelance Motion Graphics Designer?

I found my way to freelancing after being ‘on the tools’ in a mid-sized commercial advertising agency for two years. I learned a lot during my time there but I also paid a heavy price. I experienced inequity and bullying which cost me my health, my confidence and ultimately my job. It was a hard time for me but without that experience, I may have never found my way into freelance work.

Tell us about freelance life. How is your business evolving over time?

Although self-employment has its own set of challenges, so far it’s been a real success! I still do plenty of commercial work but there are also no limits to what I can learn and what I can pursue. With this freedom, I’m starting to explore my style, my ‘why’ and my values; it’s begun to reveal parts of myself as an artist that I hadn't ever acknowledged previously. I’m not rushing this process.

I’m allowing myself to witness the layers of creative knowledge that are arising, and am observing my reactions to them.

I cannot recommend this kind of personal and professional exploration enough.

During the process I have noticed parts of myself that I wanted to reject in my work – how fun, child-like and colourful it can be. My instinct was to feel ashamed, or that it wasn’t good enough. This self-insight has been absolute gold for me. It revealed unhelpful beliefs that I’d picked up through my experiences, parts of myself that I had rejected.

As I go through this process I’m reclaiming my vulnerability, my energetic and playful nature, and how art and emotions are so strongly linked for me.

The challenges and freedom of self-employment have led to these discoveries and allowed me to love this about myself, and it now assists me to move forward with agency and authenticity through the industry and provide value to others. I can now pour more joy into my work and my community which, it turns out, is a huge part of what makes me, me. I need to find joy in what I do and I get a huge payoff out of finding joy in others while helping to solve problems for them. I love seeing others realise their potential and find the freedom to connect with the kind of energy that makes them glow.

What are your plans for the future?

As all good artists know, development and fine-tuning is never ‘finished’. I’ll continue to build on my ideas, refine my values and the reasons for why I wake up to do this work every morning. For now I’m focusing on helping my clients get through the piles of motion graphics they need done, while also generating my own personal work until I get to a place where my next evolution is ready to be unveiled.

If you’re looking for help with motion graphics, I’m here for a chat, even if you don’t know where to start. And if you're a woman in this industry who has found nothing but limits and you want something more for yourself, I want to let you know that you’re not alone. Where there is a will, there is always a way, stop listening to those critics and define your own path.

If you’d like to connect with Alexa, check out her weekly posts via Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn. To view her showreel, pop over to her ever-evolving website at or check out her new Behance profile.


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