A student from Johnson C. Smith University emailed me this week asking to interview me for a class project.
Hi, I’m name is Tiaira, I’m contacting you because I attend JCSU and my class requires me to contact professionals that are the same as my major and interview them. My major is visual arts graphic design. I would appreciate it if I can interview you for my class. I know you probably have a busy schedule so if I can interview you, we can do it over email if you prefer.
Of course, I was happy to help! And since I haven’t added a blog post in FOREVER, I thought I should share…
How did you get into your job?
I boldly left a stressful office job to start The Creative Stack, as a freelance graphic designer. I had always done a little freelance on the side, so I had a handful of clients already. Plus, I had worked from home before and loved it. It takes the right kind of person to be able to work at home and for yourself. You need lots of motivation and be somewhat of a workaholic – which I am. Oh, and you should LOVE WHAT YOU DO! I hit the ground running reaching out to my extended network of contacts, jumping into social media full force and helping out some non-profits for practice/exposure. It took about a year to get the business going strong and it has been growing ever since. I am still just a one woman show, but I may one day expand to an office with other employees.
Why did you choose graphic design?
I knew going into college that I wanted to be a graphic designer. As a kid, I loved coloring designs on my parent’s old business cards, creating my own greeting cards, etc. I received a general art degree from UNCC taking all sorts of classes like sculpture, ceramics, painting, etc. I loved that I had exposure to all different types of art forms. It helped broaden my design eye over time.
What software do you use mostly?
Photoshop. Straight out of college, I worked at a professional photo lab for 7 years so I used Photoshop everyday for photo retouching and designs with photo files. These days I lean on Photoshop for a lot of things (more than I should) – but it is my program of choice.
Do you offer internships? If so how do I get into that process?
I don’t have any internships at this time but have been approached more lately about this, so maybe next year!
What are some challenges involved in your job?
Giving up your design preferences. Some clients just want what they want. My rule of thumb to push back three times (nicely, with evidence of course) if I strongly disagree with something that they want in their design. If on the third time they are still persistent then I give in and do what they wish. Ultimately it is their business and they are paying me for the design. It just might not end up in my portfolio 🙂
Are you told exactly what to design or you choose how to design it yourself?
I call myself a graphic designer turned small business marketing consultant. Someone might come to me wanting a brochure design when what they really need to do is spend their marketing dollars on a better website. I help my clients assess where their money can be best be spent and then help brainstorm on design ideas for execution. I usually get a general idea for the branding and target market and then run with the design. Because I work with mostly small business owners, most need lots of help with the direction of the designs since they don’t have a strict branding package. I do not however write any content for my designs. It is not my strong suit so I leave that up to them or refer them to someone that can help.
What qualifications do you need to have to get into a job like that?
To run your own graphic design freelance business you need to be a self-starter and highly motivated person. Also, good organization skills will help you budget your time and stay on top of projects to be more profitable. You also should be a people person and have good customer service skills too!
What is the pay rate for a job like that?
I make my own rates. When I first started out and I was needing to boost my client base, my prices were cheaper. As I grew my business, I also grew my bank account. I don’t have set prices – I quote per job. I find that the needs of each client varies so much that I need to meet with them to understand the scope of the work before I give an estimate out.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I love working with the wide range of clients and businesses. I also love that I don’t just do one type of design. My day to day work involves website design, social media marketing, event marketing, branding, and so on…so I don’t get bored! I love helping small business owners grow their business and branding. My motto is if they succeed, then I succeed!
Is this what you want for a lifetime job or would you rather go farther?
Yes, I always see myself working with small business owners on their designs and marketing. I absolutely love my job! The only thing I see in the future is expanding to an office space with a number of employees and building The Creative Stack brand even more. BUT, then I would miss working in my pajamas!