Advice to New Designers – Part 1

April 22nd, 2008

A friend just asked me to give her graphic design friend some advice.

I’m not sure what advice to give. I teach, so I could give a semesters worth of advice if you got me going. But, not sure what to say off the bat without a specific question.

Couple of things if you’re looking for work. Most of which will sound obvious, but are good reminders…

1. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t know anyone. Network, Network, Network. Get involved in the art organizations. Don’t just go to meetings, participate. Design firm owners will become your friends and probably hire you over a stranger.

2. Value yourself. Most artists don’t think they are worth anything. Your time is very valuable and so are you. A major difference between an expensive designer and a cheap one is that someone is brave enough to ask for it. The reason the industry pays so little is because designers that don’t know their worth ruin it and do work for nothing and then complain that they live at home and drive a beat up Rabbit.

3. Job negotiation is not just money. If you don’t get money, ask for vacation time or added personal days or signing bonus. Or ask to be reviewed at 3 months for the salary you want because you can prove you are worth it.

4. Show confidence in yourself and your work.

5. Always do every piece like it will be your masterpiece, next thing you know you have a kick ass portfolio. Don’t just blow off a project because it’s free or the client sucks. Every piece has potential of being great. But don’t fit the clients to your portfolio, embrace the company for who they are and design as if you work for them.

6. Don’t be afraid to mix mediums. Even if a project isn’t paying for fancy work, give them everything. Throw in some hand done illustration and mix it up.

7. Don’t look at design annuals for inspiration. You will only produce what everyone else is. Look everywhere but there.

8. Take a pro bono job here and there, but not too often. It will allow for amazing pieces and will be great PR. But this will take over your time if you do not watch out.

Well those are quick thoughts out of many more. Not sure if it’s what that designer was looking for, but that’s some advice.

I put part 1 because I figure I’ll eventually put down the other slew of thoughts I have for advice.

Good luck has very little to do with it, so Good work to you.

Paul

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