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New to forum: In house design frustrations

Hello there - I'm new to the forum and wanted to introduce myself!

In a nutshell, I spent 8 years working as an in house designer for a fast moving food manufacturer. I left last year to begin freelancing, but was asked back on a year long contract to cover my previous boss' maternity leave. It's been a really good deal financially, which has given me a secure income with only having to work for them for 2.5 days a week, leaving the rest of my time free for other clients... but I have recently been reminded of some of the reasons I left in the first place!

After a year of freedom, I've really noticed how much I feel like a 'puppet designer', with brand managers micro-managing design and doing the classic of trying to ensure every pixel of space on a page is occupied (no 'dead space', as they call it). And you can't tell them! And because they are not paying for each amend etc, they experiment with their ideas and go back and forth so many times until they have 'used me' to design their flyer, or whatever!

Of course, I knew what I was getting into, and accept my fate, as it's great financial stability for a year, but wanted to share where I knew people would understand! Are there any other in-housers here that find this particularly problematic?

Paul Murray

Staff member
Hi Becky, welcome to the forum.

I've never worked in-house full-time, only ever freelance direct from uni. Occasionally I miss working with other people but like yourself I'm also reminded why I opted to remain freelance – the amount of corporate hurdles, lack of creativity and regurgitated ideas I see in some places just takes away any enthusiasm I have for my career. In all the time I've been working for a particular agency, I've not once worked with their creative team on a project, I always seem to be briefed by brand managers and account handlers who just tell me exactly what the clients want and are expecting in terms of digital outcomes.

I try and just think of the money I'll eventually be getting 2 months+ down the line but it's a hard slog.