My Life as a Designer (so far)

I designed our weekly church bulletins… in PowerPoint.

I designed my wedding invites, cards and whatnot–also in PowerPoint. They came out perfect.

I got my first “real” design software: Adobe Photoshop CS2. Totally loved it. Then got Illustrator too but didn’t know what to do with it.

I discovered design contests and was thrilled at the endless possibilities of working online.

A contest holder once scoffed – “…bevel and emboss won’t cut it.” I went online, bought myself design books and devoured them. And I got pretty good at Illustrator.

I stumbled across blog posts about spec work (something I’ve never heard of before), and quit design contests. It was a relief.

I looked for jobs on Twitter, Craigslist, Freelancer, Elance, LinkedIn, design forums and the like. I had a 2% success rate. Money was tight.

I sent almost a hundred unsolicited emails to strangers. I think five responded but I never got a project.

I put up my blog and portfolio website. I heavily edited a free WordPress theme until it looked nothing like the original. I decided to study WordPress and brush up on my coding skills.

I wrote “How I Quit Working for (Design Contests)”. That post got me designer connections and clients. It still does.

I pulled an all-nighter for a web design project and after sending all files with the invoice, the client said, “That’s too much, I’m not paying for that.” I was shocked, more because of my stupidity.

I took on pro-bono jobs, made logos for friends, created my own projects and updated my portfolio. I drafted a project agreement, design questionnaires and decided on my rates. It was time to be serious about this design business.

I found a couple of regular magazine design and layout projects and a sprinkling of identity design jobs. Things were starting to look up.

My clients loved me. They sent me referrals and gave me more projects. They still do.

I sketch, draw, paint, design, read, study. I love what I do.

  • January 28th, 2014 /