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Career rut?


Junior Member
Hi there,

I've been working as a graphic designer for 8 years and am currently in my fourth role. In the last year or so I've realised that I've never worked under a good creative director and as a result, my portfolio has suffered. I have always felt that I haven't been given allowed the creative freedom to fulfil my potential, whatever that is.

I've been in my current role for 3 years and have been looking for a new job since August - there's been very few vacancies to even apply for and I haven't got anywhere with any of them, probably partly because of the job market being even more oversaturated than normal with candidates and partly because of my weak portfolio. I've been doing freelance work on the side for the last 18 months with has given me some more pieces to go in my portfolio. However, I've realised I approach all briefs the same way and am very much a product of where I've been working. To break out of this, I'm setting myself some briefs that aren't live and are more art-based than design-based. For example, as I enjoy typography, I am going to find a quote I like and illustrate it in any way I choose and use it as an opportunity to experiment.

I hope that will generate better work for my portfolio. Do you think that's a good idea? Has anyone else been in my situation? What would you do? Given my experience, job agencies have been putting me forward for senior graphic designer roles but should I take a pay cut and go for middleweight roles?

The bottom line is I'm really worried that I won't be able to get a role with a good agency where I can learn, meaning I'll be stuck in a rut of working for the same, unsatisifying employers and never do anything I enjoy!
There's no harm in applying for middleweight jobs and I guess you're more likely to get interviews for those than senior ones anyway. I'm not saying aim for these but at least if you get an interview, you get a chance to have a chat with the interviewers and discuss your ambitions and tell them that you are looking to be a bit more creative. If they are up for letting you do it, then if you can afford it and it seems like a good opportunity, it might be worth taking a pay cut.

It's one of those job satisfaction against money arguments I guess. Then again you might hit lucky and get a senior job doing that. It's a chance you take.

I don't know your personal circumstances but do you have free time on a night to create new pieces of artwork? If so it might be worth knocking a few bits and pieces of experimental work up and putting a couple in your portfolio. A mixture of what you can do as well as a mixture of stuff you've done in a workplace.

I'm no expert but that would be my personal opinion. I was out of a design role for around 2 years since being made redundant and only just recently got back into another one. The market has been terrible for the last few years unless you know people in decent companies.


Junior Member
Thanks guys!

Mark: I know the job market has been poor but that's really rough you were out of work that long after being made redundant. At least you have managed to get a new job at last! I've been made redundant twice already (!!) so know how it feels.

Berry: Thanks, very much appreciate it. I've sent you a PM.