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Be gentle with me . . .

. . . or not, whatever. I'm easy . . .

I actually joined about 2 weeks ago, but didn’t introduce myself as I realised I had nothing to say at the time, given that my career has been a bit of a wasteland recently and didn’t want to alienate people by boring them to tears before I’d even had the chance to demonstrate how fascinating I really am . . .

. . . then a strange thing happened last week – I won a design award. Not a graphic design award, but recognition for a new design venture (& website: link from homepage) I started to run in conjunction with my other website which is just an online portfolio of my graphics work.

Does that mean that instead of boring people I am simply annoying people instead? If okay with you, I’ll plump for annoying, though I am actually about to be boring and talk about work . . .

Anyone else found it really hard to simply get freelance gigs nowadays? I mean, REALLY hard. For about 10 years (1999 to 2010, whether in employment or not) I was almost being given more than I could cope with, then it just seemed to dry up overnight, so I moved to London where all the work was, and even after 2 years, having registered with almost 60 agencies, couldn’t penetrate at all. Answering machines said “due to receiving hundreds of CVs a day we cannot answer your call”, or “due to receiving thousands of CVs a week . . .” WTF? Couldn’t even speak to a person. A complete lottery. Had to give up and move back to Edinburgh. That’s when I decided I needed a plan B as it’s even worse when nobody knows you (Edinburgh is my home town but had lived in England for 15 years). So I decided to start tinkering with trinkets and that seems to have legs at the moment but it will never pay me £35 an hour like I used to earn.

I don’t want to get rich working as a trinket monkey anyway, but I started that because I refused to accept that my creative career was over and resort to stacking shelves in Waitrose, as I am almost 100 now but still have the use of my fingers, my eyes and my brain, which I would prefer to untilise until I can utilise no more . . .

How the holy hell does anyone else do it? :icon_confused:
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Staff member
I started by joining a club - of course which I was interested in doing since I was child. I always wanted to be a Ninja... for real! And I joined a Karate club when I was 18. While studying Karate I also worked full time, doing graphic design.

At the age of 24 I got my Black Belt in Karate. Anyway... I found this a great avenue to work on side projects/freelance.

I am now the graphic designer for about 50% of the Karate style clubs in my area, as well as other styles.

My story really isn't about me - it's about 2 women I met along the way. They are both in their 40s and started training when I had just achieved my Black Belt. They both worked so hard and eventually at the age of 47 had achieved their black belts in the art.

It really doesn't matter what age you are - or your previous experience, if you want something bad enough you will get it.

I found the best avenue to pursue is by engaging in hobbies where people need things done. I recently joined a rowing club and now I am designing their sponsor cards, business cards, etc. I am doing it for free membership and entry to all competitions, so it's a fair trade.

I'm 33 and I just keep opening doors for myself by making friends with extraneous groups and finding freelance work that way.

After all, the beauty of freelance is you work your own hours!
I used to do that in my twenties between jobs (I am not really 100 – I just talk nonsense to avoid boring myself) but the trouble is now, at the risk of stating the obvious, because computers with DTP capabilities are domestic now (and due to the internet, have become as essential as TV), many people do all their graphics work themselves.

I used to do a lot of menus and illustrations for local restaurants. Now, all they have to do is download an image/clipart and perhaps fashion a layout from what already exists online and type it themselves.

Even retouching work isn’t required anymore (something I used to specialise in) so I am using these skills to make my own stuff pop, but nobody wants that anymore as industry standards are not what they used to be.


Staff member
Ah those people are in for a world of hurt with copyright at some point, it will be noticed. It's happened lots of times in the past.

Yes - computers, internet ---- everyone is a designer!

I had this argument earlier today - well wasn't an argument, more of an agreement, the sentiment was:

"If the flyer looks crap and it has my logo on it then I look crap!"

This was in reflection to trouble to other design company.

The person had it right, if you want something good, pay for it, or else your company looks like crap.

But ask yourself - are the people who are downloading templates really the people you want to do business with?
You can always tell when something has been designed by the managing director too . . . absolutely no concept of use of space whatsoever, and remember 1991 when people bought web building software and "designed" and built their own? Forget all the animated gifs and annoying sounds ('just because you can, doesn't mean you should' rule applies) but the copy ran right across the screen like a racetrack 'it wasn't me, the MD made me do it'.


Well-Known Member
Hello, I will fit in well in this thread.... I have been looking for the 'answer' to your question for a very, very long time. I say 'answer' because there is no real answer to it. But I wonder around the internet, forums, twitter, etc. looking for an answer that will help me progress but it is all very hit and miss. Well.. more miss than hit! If I tell my story about design companies/agencies etc I will be pretty much repeating what you have already said. As for new start up business' they are either the same, they just don't get back to you OR they want to pay so little you just can't begin to degrade yourself to even consider accepting such insulting 'payments' (pocket money more like!).

It's quite ironic, because my aim has always been to eventually be in a position to be able to help fellow designers (especially graduates as I feel most sorry for them) find or offer work/projects/briefs, whatever the case may be, in ways the recruitment agencies and whatnot, are just not able to.

It is draining and a tough tough situation. And it hasn't got any easier over the years.

Sorry to sound daft but what is trinkets? Is it another one of those PPH type sites?


Well-Known Member
As getting work over the last few years has been so tough and competitive despite all my my experience and references, I began a sister site to flying-colours (graphics site) as a plan B, and this is what seems to have taken off: Expect the unexpected . . . (trinkets = jewellery).
Oh :icon_blushing: sorry I read your post out of context, it was after midnight I suppose (my excuse) :icon_smile:
Ta very much, guv'nor. Bristol? That's where I was for 12 years, then lost my house as there was no work left there, which is why I moved to London . . .