Freelance Graphic Designing
Tara Roskell lives in the sunny UK with her boyfriend Kevin and a grumpy black labrador. She has been working in the Graphic Design industry for nearly 20 years and finally went freelance about six years ago. Tara also writes www.graphicdesignblog.co.uk where she shares her thoughts on graphic design and freelancing.
1. What made you to choose your career as a graphic designer?
I had always wanted to do something art related, from the age of about five. I originally wanted to be an illustrator or fine artist, but at college while doing a course in general art and design, I realized my strength lay more with graphics.
2. What are the benefits of being a freelance graphic designer? How has your life changed in comparison to working for someone?
I had wanted to go freelance for years, but like a lot of people never had the guts to. The problem is you earn more and more in your job and then it's harder to make the break. I never stayed in any job for more than two or three years; I just got bored. You tend to find you get type-cast for certain types of jobs and there comes a time when you are just not learning anything new.
Before going freelance I set up a small business with a guy (sales andmarketing) I used to work with, backed by a larger company. We did very well, but after a couple of years he decided he wanted to move abroad and I didn't like the way the senior partner wanted to run things so I finally made the break. I contacted a lot of people I had worked for (full-time) in the past and many gave me freelance work. At first, most of my work was done in-house, but now I do all my work from home and do more work directly for companies, rather than design agencies. The freedom you get from working from home is a breath of fresh air. I hate the mentality in a full-time job that you literally get paid for how many hours you sit at your desk rather than productivity. I can remember sitting at my desk while in full-time employment with nothing to do, when work was quiet, purely because I was paid to be there. Freelancing of course does have its downsides, like doing your own accounts. It's definitely not my favorite thing so thank goodness my partner is good at it!
3. If someone wants to follow a career in graphic designing, how should he or she start the journey? What advice can you give?
It's a long time since I was in college, but I think that's still the main route into graphics. What I have found while visiting open days at my old college though, is there is still very little emphasis on the web, and I think this is something really important to learn about. Reading books, blogs, magazines, and watching tutorial videos are all good ways of finding out what goes on in the industry. Also, it's worth looking at Graphic Design Job Ads just to find out what employers are looking for so you can tailor your skills to those areas.
4. How lucrative are graphic design employment opportunities?
Obviously they can vary enormously depending on the skill level required. Owning a graphic design company can be very lucrative, but freelancing pays reasonably too; it just depends what you want to put into it.
5. In order to be a highly proficient and competent graphic designer, which skills would you say are the most important?
The things you would expect such as creativity and accuracy are obviously important. The ability to organize your time and jobs and communicate with clients is vital if you want to freelance (as is motivation).
6. What is the top graphic design software in the market today?Which do you use?
I still use Quark Xpress for page layout though many people have switched to Adobe InDesign. I also use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. A 3D package is always useful to know - I use Strata 3D mostly. Most of my work lies in design for print but web designers will use Dreamweaver, Notepad, CMS (content management systems); either bespoke or readymade - such as Joomla and Wordpress
7. What kind of future does the field of graphic design have in the years to come?
That's a difficult one - I think the web is going to dominate in different forms, i.e. e-readers and mobile devices, so graphic designers will be designing for various interfaces. I hope that design for print will still exist in some form - I still like the tactile feel of a book or magazine, but who knows.
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