This article focuses on tips that are important in sustaining your graphic design career in the ever-changing and fast-paced freelance industry. Here, we will give you tips on the foundation of graphic design, copyright, and finding your purpose by designing.
Here are 5 tips for aspiring graphic design freelancers, including those who are just starting out and those with advanced, expert level knowledge already.
Tip #1: Start With The Fundamentals Of Graphic Design
Once you know the basics, you can run with it, experiment, improve, and develop your design skills. Think about the components of your design. What are you designing? For what purpose? What problem is your design trying to solve?
Learn proper composition, space, imagery, color combinations, color meanings, font combinations, font meanings, shapes, and how they all affect the overall mood and the message your design conveys.
Tip #2: Become Part Of A Community
You’ve probably heard this famous saying before, “No man is an island.” I believe this is true, most especially in the world of freelancing and graphic design. Both industries require continuous learning and an endless stream of inspirations.
Most freelancers work from home. Many are surrounded by family but there are also some who work alone. Sometimes, this kind of lifestyle becomes monotonous and worse, lonely. This is where a community comes in handy. Communities can become a lifeline and source of socialization.
Being part of a community can help you in finding mentors and people you can mentor and share your knowledge with. Communities can also connect you with potential clients.
Join a community for graphic designers. There are many Facebook groups that cater to graphic designers. Here are two groups I recommend: Graphic Artist Philippines and Designers Guild (international graphic design group).
Join a community where your target clients are. You need to create a list of niche industries you are interested in serving. If you design mostly food menus then your target market must include restaurants, chefs, and other food-related industries.
Get to know your interests and who you want to work with and join groups where they are. Make sure you can provide value to these groups to avoid being kicked out.
Tip #3: Appreciate The Works Of Other Designers
This is connected to tip #2, you need to join communities so you can share your works and at the same time look at other people’s works.
Share your work if you want to be found by your potential clients. You can protect your artworks and designs from art thieves by copyrighting your work and always putting your signature and watermark.
Find inspiration by looking at your fellow designers’ artwork but do not steal artworks. Inspiration is different from blatantly stealing artwork.
Be open to criticism and feedback, both good and bad. You also need to learn how to give feedback to others when asked. Having observation skills is important in being a designer. Attention to details is one of the important skills a designer needs to have and this can be learned by consciously looking at other people’s work and your own work.
By appreciating the works of others, you are also opening your mind to other styles. Remember that just because you don’t find a design style appealing doesn’t mean that no one will find it. Spend at least one hour a day looking at works in your community, in Behance, DeviantART, Dribble, or on any other website that showcases the works relevant to your own.
Tip #4: Keep On Learning New Industry Trends And Tools
You need to keep yourself updated in the industry. Immerse yourself in seminars and workshops, free or paid, that are shared in groups and communities.
Don’t get left behind. As a freelancer, education and learning shouldn’t stop. Technology continues to be developed, cultures, people and businesses also adapt and evolve to keep up with the changing times.
Tip #5: Use Your Craft For A Cause – Know Your Why
Design is, first and foremost, something that is used to communicate and offer solutions. When you just design without knowing your reason, it can become tiresome and that takes the fun out of it.
To avoid burnout, take a pause and ask yourself, why do you design? Having a strong reason to do something will give you the strength to not give up. It can be as simple as finding design fun or as a self-expression.
If you love design, you can spend most of your life doing it. Design for a cause can be uplifting because you know that you have a purpose. In my Day in the Life Of A Woman story, I shared the reason why I love design and how it enables me to give back.
I believe that knowledge is power and it can be passed on through many forms of communication. Creative communication is one of them. I believe in passing on the knowledge to keep its continuity. This is my cause, this is my why. Because I have this, I will never get tired of doing my best and it’s my infinite source of motivation.
Keep On Designing
Design enables you to leave a mark. It may not be physically permanent but the message that you send through your design can become permanent through the people who see and touch it. And the idea can be passed on from generation to generation.