I'm Maria Rapetskaya. Full-time creative director, motion graphics designer, entrepreneur.  
Part-time writer, mentor, educator.  All-the-time explorer of things near and far.  
Creative leader and architect of Undefined Creative, a boutique motion design agency based in New York. 
Travel addict. Fifty seven countries, six continents, and counting (images here).  

Through my writing, I share insight on travel and creativity, professional longevity, small business entrepreneurship and day-to-day career satisfaction. I write for mainstream creative and entrepreneurial publications, and speak about these topics whenever opportunity arises. This is a collection of links to my articles. To get notified when something new is published, as well as stay in touch with my studio, Undefined Creative, please sign up at the bottom of the page, I promise you'll never get junk!

AIGA Eye On Design

THE CREATIVE'S SECRET TO CAREER LONGEVITY

I’ve been that intern looking for an opportunity and that college grad begging for a break. Like so many others, I’ve sought staff positions and freelance work, and finally somewhere along the way, I graduated to become the person doing the hiring—and the firing.

Getting your foot in the door of your first real job is undeniably difficult. But frankly, getting a shot at anypoint in your career isn’t exactly easy. The big difference between your first job and your eighth is knowing how to stay hired once your foot is comfortable, and how to keep growing within the company or towards your next position. Through working with interns and recent grads, I recognized a common pattern of mistaken ideas and behaviors. (read the rest on alga.org)

99U:

THE SECOND LEAP: FROM LONE FREELANCER TO FULL-FLEDGED ENTREPRENEUR

You’ve been freelancing for a few years now. Perhaps business is booming and you’re considering hiring help. Or you’re tired of working “for others” and see yourself as more than a lone gun for hire. You may not have much capital or a 10-year business plan, but the evolution from freelancing to small business feels like the natural progression.

If you’re a freelance creative toying with the idea of starting a company, you’re not alone. We’ve entered the age of entrepreneurship, where the “lean startup” is glorified and its trials are handsomely rewarded. Working for someone else, particularly in creative circles, can be seen as capitulation of ambition, a near failure. And freelancing, especially when you’re expected to schlep into an office, can appear a step shy of the freedom and financial prospects that “real” entrepreneurship holds. 
(read the rest on 99u.com)

ENTREPRENEUR.com

4 WAYS TO WEATHER PROFESSIONAL STORMS

Even the luckiest entrepreneurs, whose business trajectories trend mostly upwards, aren't immune to major bumps. Some are internal, like losing several days' worth of work or your number-one team member just before a critical deadline. Others are circumstantial, like getting the best opportunity at the worst time.

Getting from crisis to success requires confidence in your ability to pull off some seemingly impossible feat. Panicking isn't an option, since you're the person in charge and everyone expects you to pull this together. So, where do you look for that confidence when you need it most?
(read the rest on entrepreneur.com)

ENTREPRENEUR.com & FORTUNE.com

5 THINGS NOT TO DO WHILE RUNNING A SMALL BUSINESS

I've been a creative entrepreneur since 2005. My first design company was a partnership with my significant other. It was largely a freestyle experiment in running a business, conducted live over the course of five years. As a business, it was marginally successful. As a learning experience, it was my equivalent of a masters of business administration. 

So, by the time I had started my second and current company, I had a pretty good blueprint of don't's for running a small business. I had been fortunate enough to make the mistakes that have yielded five valuable lessons learned -- lessons that have truly paid off the second time around.
(read the rest on entrepreneur.com)

FAST COMPANY:  

A FULFILLING WAY TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF A CREATIVE RUT

I love our clients. But sometimes, our clients aren’t enough. Our production cycle fluctuates. Bursts of creative beginnings lead to spells of monotonous production. It may keep the lights on, but it does little for the soul. I imagine all, save the luckiest in our industry, run on a version of this treadmill. As founder and creative director of an upstart full-service agency, I know it all too well. 
(read the rest on fastcompany.com)

 

PROMAX/BDA DAILY BRIEF:  

YOU NEVER REALLY GET AWAY FROM THE NETWORK YOU ORIGINALLY BUILD

I started building mine in earnest in February 2000, two years out of art school, with a BFA and a string of starter jobs that led to dead ends. An ad for an After Effects animator brought me to media2, a post house in Northern New Jersey. It was a nascent company – two founding partners, a recently hired full-time editor, and now me, their second “official” employee. 

We grew to ten people occupying a floor on Madison Avenue, and I transformed from an ambitious kid into an art director with a proven track record. Yet, I wanted to spread my wings. In 2004, I left, with a vision to become a studio in my own right.
(read the rest on brief.promaxbda.org)

 

CREATIVE INTERNS:  

CAREER PATH: INTERVIEW

What tips can you offer a recent graduate that is preparing to interview for an entry-level position within your industry?

Be patient. It will likely take time to find a good position, or any position for that matter. Even if your goal is a full-time job, pursue freelance or independent projects while you look. You’ll make some money, get more experience, make connections, etc.

Don’t be afraid to take chances. Do acknowledge your limits. You can take on a project that’s over your head and wow the client. Or you can flop and ruin a relationship. Learn to honestly gauge your abilities.(read the rest on creativeinterns.com)

 

 

 

 

99U: 

STOP APOLOGIZING FOR WANTING WORK/LIFE BALANCE

On March 1, 2013, I got on a one-way flight to Kathmandu. Over the next few weeks, I crossed the Himalayas at 18,000 feet, got bathed by an elephant, checked Bhutan off my bucket list and learned to ride a scooter in Laos. I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries in the past 10 years alone, often escaping to some really remote places. I’ve also seen my share of 18-hour workdays.

Of course, it’s my travel pics that people see on Facebook…not pics of me collapsing into bed at 2 a.m. and waking up at 6 to resume work. I’m often asked how I manage this, especially being a business owner, and my answer is really simple: I designed my life.
(read the rest on 99u.com)

 

BRANDCHANNEL: 

THE CLIENT-VENDOR GUIDE TO FALLING IN LOVE: FACTUAL APPROACH TO FAIRY TALE RAPPORT

Co-authored with Karla Chrzanowski, Brand Strategist, KC Consulting

Karla Chrzanowski and Maria Rapetskaya met on a professional “blind date” in 2011, at Meredith Publishing in New York. Karla represented the client, as Brand Development Director at Better Homes & Gardens. Maria was the vendor, pitching Undefined Creative as a motion graphics provider.

They clicked, and with each collaboration, they discovered commonalities: their commitment to communication and transparency, their passion for balancing life and careers, and, of course, their unpronounceable last names. Eventually, this professional relationship evolved into a personal friendship, and the client-vendor barrier gave way to a truly open exchange of ideas. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when one day, over coffee, Karla and Maria reminisced about their “first date.”
(read the rest on brandchannel.com)

 

CATCHAFIRE:  

WHY I VOLUNTEER

...I was born in the former Soviet Union and have held on to some of the core values that were taught to me as a child. Among these was the notion that individuals should give back to the community, since we are all part of that community. For a few years I volunteered in various capacities – painting murals in inner city schools via NYCares, finding art-based programs for kids and teens, working with seniors, and participating in reading programs. All the while, I hoped that I could find a way to volunteer my primary skills, as a digital designer, and even better, as a motion graphics/animation artist.
(read the rest on catchafire.org)