Freelance graphic designers aren’t born, they’re made.
So how did I become a freelance graphic designer?
I worked as a full-time graphic designer in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Los Angeles before I decided to “go freelance.” It was invaluable to my freelance graphic design business to have had those years to build up my graphic design portfolio, to learn from my coworkers, AND to experience the inner workings of a corporation.
At my first job as a layout designer, I was lucky enough to work with award-winning graphic designers. But – I was being paid a paltry wage out of the art supply budget. I was willing to move all the way to Arizona to earn a better wage. In this small marketing department, I was quickly promoted to All-Media Art Director. Another chance to learn – about working with management, and directing and managing my own staff of graphic designers, illustrators and photographers.
After a few years, I was ready to move on to the next challenge. I was offered a graphic design job at a catalog agency in California. This was the go-go 80’s, and catalog work was exploding! Soon there was more work than my coworker Gary and I could handle – and we were sending out most of the work to freelance graphic designers. Soon, I found being a manager very unsatisfying. I sent out a graphic design job with brief directions, and often was unhappy when the completed job came back. And my own graphic design work now consisted of making revisions to others’ designs.
I took the plunge
In a meeting with the agency owner, I expressed my dissatisfaction. Those freelance artists – that’s what I wanted to be! Not a manager. Would my boss support my leaving the company? Send freelance graphic design work my way? Of course, he couldn’t promise. I was valuable to him where I was, and he didn’t want me to leave.
It turned out to be the best for everyone – I worked from home as a freelance graphic designer, and the agency didn’t even need to replace my staff position. Unlike many freelancers, I manage myself rather well!
Don’t try this at home
I consider myself very lucky that the agency was willing to hire me as a freelance graphic designer. They made the smart choice, of course, but but they could have said “No” just because I had quit my job there. I highly recommend that anyone considering becoming a freelance graphic designer acquire several stable clients before quitting your day job! I had only one minor client on the side when I took the leap. But the business world has changed, and competition is much higher now. Be cautious.
How about you?
Now you know the story of how I became a freelance graphic designer! Now let’s hear your story, or questions. Leave a comment!