If you’ve read my about section you already know a bit about me and how I came to be a freelance graphic designer. If you haven’t read that section, or just want to know a bit more about my journey as a graphic designer, then this article is for you!
My journey into graphic design goes as far back as my childhood. I didn’t have ambitions to become a graphic designer as a child, and if someone asked me what a graphic designer did, I wouldn’t have been able to answer! I always enjoyed being creative and I had passion for art and design at school, which I pursued with my A-Levels, on a course that covered fine art, fashion design and graphic design. After getting a taster of working all three of these topics I found that I had a particular interest in the latter. I enjoyed working on Adobe Photoshop and found the work of designers such as David Carson inspiring!
This motivated me to enrol on a graphic design course at the University of Derby, although I was in for a shock in my first year and a half on the course. The standard of work was a big jump and I wasn’t sure that I was skilled enough to graduate and get a job in the industry! There came a point though where it just seemed to ‘click’ and I found after much experimentation that I enjoyed typography, layout design and designing publications. For my final year project, I designed a newspaper on the JFK assassination, combining my interest in design with historical events. I graduated with a 2:1 and feeling confident in my skills as a professional graphic designer.
Breaking into the industry
Following graduation, I went through a period that many designers experience struggling to get opportunities in the industry. The gap of experience between university and the design industry is vast and few employers are willing to take on the responsibility of training up designers to industry standard. During this time, I experimented with my skills on a passion project designing football posters and getting an internship at Derby County Football Club as a result.
Eventually a full-time opportunity came from a company that ran a monthly newspaper based in Derbyshire. They spotted my newspaper work that I designed in my university project and they could see that I had the skills and with some training, I could become what they wanted. I became confident in my skills in this fast paced, deadline driven role and I eventually took design direction of several publications and newspapers, with which I learnt about print design, publications and working as part of a team.
It was around this time that I also started to take on small freelance projects to broaden my portfolio, expertise and try new things. I produced logo designs, started designing websites and I still pursued my passion project designing football posters which gave me the opportunity to try out new skills that I couldn’t use in my job role at the time.
My creative, experimental work was noticed by Patterns of Play, who invited me to design a series of posters to feature at their Group Stage Exhibition celebrating the upcoming Euro 2016. My series titled Euro’s Greatest Goals featured famous goals in the competition’s rich history. One year later, following this exciting opportunity, I was approached by the Bundesliga, who had seen my work on my Instagram page. This was a dream gig for me, and it was a great motivating factor in taking the leap into full-time freelancing.
My freelance career now spans almost seven years and it has easily been the most rewarding part of my career and life. I’ve worked clients from a variety of industries including sports, restaurants, cyber security, software and many more. My design expertise has increased tenfold, a great benefit of being a freelancer is that you can say yes and no to whatever projects you want!
I’ve benefited greatly from running my own business and being responsible for my own income which is something you’ll never get a sense of being employed. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m part of that weird group that enjoy that responsibility. Networking has given me the confidence to speak to strangers and be comfortable in such situations, which is something that a former wall flower like me always struggled with.
So, there you have it, this was as brief of a summary as possible to give my readers an insight into my journey as a graphic designer so far! I could go into far more detail, but I fear that I’d end up writing a book. If anything interests you or you have any questions, please, get in touch with me by email or via my social media links, I’d love to chat with you!