Rendall Mercado On Fueling Creativity, Benefits of Patreon, and Freelance

Rendall Mercado is a graphic designer based in San Diego, CA. In this segment of “The Creatives”, I got a chance to talk with San Diegan graphic designer about creative energy, freelance, electrical boxes, Patreon, and much more. He also played an integral role in the designing of the Unify Collective globe!

JM: Ren, brother bear, thank you for your time! Before we dive in, introduce yourself and talk a bit about your craft. 

RM: My name is Ren and I am currently a Freelance Graphic Artist and Illustrator based in San Diego. I dabble in a lot of projects that include embroidery designs, sticker making, and coming up soon rugs!! Currently, sticker designing is my favorite haha. I currently run a Patreon that focuses on sticker designs! we’re about to wrap up our current season of stickers check them out at!

JM: Speaking about your range of projects, I can’t help but notice you’re always on a creative roll! Whether you’re creating holiday-themed cards, stickers/drawings of a character you’ve made up, or designing accessories. What is the inspiration behind all of this creativity? 

RM: Great question! Simple/likable designs and things that I find cool/fun. Most of the time I think of a concept and think, “where can this be best applied?”. 

In the case of my recent character ‘Egg Person’, this little being was conceptualized by a collage project that I’ve done with a group of students at work (I also work in childcare haha). Another Design that is coming up soon is our ‘Seafood’ hat, which was simply inspired by neon lights from a seafood market, plus my love for all things seafood haha!

JM: Yes! I love it! Very cool how the kids help you with your inspiration for new characters. How do you channel your creative energy? Is there a routine you find yourself in or does it just come to you naturally the and gears start grinding?

RM: Sometimes I get lucky and it comes naturally and I just run it, other times I have to sit down and really hammer out and perfect it. It’s part of the workflow honestly, but it’s work that I really don’t mind doing. Not to toot my horn, but I feel like I’m constantly filled with creative energy haha! granted it’s things that I find creative, but it helps me be on my toes artistically. I enjoy a lot of entertainment media such as videogames, art, and movies so that also helps on the creative energy charge.

JM: The energy flows through you, man! In terms of that, tell me about the electrical boxes! I see you painting them all over the place. How’d that project come about? 

RM: So my girlfriend got in contact with a local artist/art teacher that works closely with the Mira Mesa Town Council to help paint some electrical boxes around the city!

Electric Boxes Ren has painted over in Mira Mesa, CA.
Electric boxes Ren has painted over in Mira Mesa, CA.

I would’ve gotten around to it sooner, but covid happened so that set me back a bit, but I’m glad that we got the ball rolling and I’m looking forward to painting more electrical boxes!

JM: They definitely add character to the places they’re in! Speaking of character, you’ve played a huge role in the creation of Unify Collective by helping me come up with the signature globe logo. What was something about the process of creating the globe that drove you in the direction you went?

RM: I think it was during the development process, and you mentioned something about your music being able to be worldwide. I thought of a globe, which led to a brain blast moment of a vinyl record being put in place of a globe thus giving us the final result of Unify Collective!

JM: Good times man, good times! I still have those drafts you gave me for the Perspectives of the Illusion cover when we met up at the coffee shop. Speaking of brands, without our community we wouldn’t be anything. What do you think is the most important aspect of community within the creative sphere of things? 

Rough sketch of the Perspectives of the Illusion cover art.

I think the most important part of a community is the people within the community itself! It’s the people who are in that community that can carry you to make you who you are as an artist. Sure being famous has that upside of great exposure, but in my opinion what really makes it is the people that actually know and care for your craft as an artist. It’s also not just receiving yourself, it’s def also supporting others in your community. That support is there in all directions! Teamwork makes the dream work!

JM: Do you think it’s true that most artists like us struggle daily especially in terms of freelance? 

RM: I think it’s true! You and I Noticed that creativity tends to get shelved for cookie cutter 9-5’s and money. We were both fortunate enough to be able to dabble in both a stable income gig and explore our creative side. But venturing into creativity is volatile even when there are so many avenues for income it’s always a struggle. You and I are the business and we gotta do everything ourselves. (Generally speaking). 

JM: I totally agree, man. That shit is scary. How has Patreon helped you with the struggle? What about your freelance work? 

RM: Patreon helped me by keeping the focus on my craft as an illustrator! Haha without it I’d feel like I’ll be lost with my artistic self. In regards to freelance work, I’ve been picking up some jobs here ‘n there so I’d say it’s pretty steady!

JM: For fellow designers out there who are scrambling for work, how do you go about finding work as a freelance designer?

RM: It definitely varies, but for me, my services get passed around via word of mouth! On top of being relatively consistent with posting art, which kinda serves as a menu to potential clients to see if they dig my style. So to my fellow artists out there, post often and take a few jobs cause I’m sure if you do that, you’ll get passed down word of mouth within your community and you’ll be receiving some jobs, which in turn will strengthen your craft and maybe get you more noticed!

Check out more of Ren’s work in the links below:

Click here to subscribe to Ren’s Patreon