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Old dog questioning where to go next

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by designerfromthehills, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Hi,

    Just joined this forum so excuse me if I'm not things quite right just yet.

    I've been running a small design studio for the past 21 years evolving it from just print, to include graphic design, web, more bespoke print as well as photography.

    Finding it harder and harder to make a living having to do all the promoting and marketing myself as well as doing the work.

    So considering getting part-time or full time roles working for other agencies.

    Thing is… I think my skills are very generalist and I don't have a deep understanding in any of the skills I offer out to people – you cold say a Jack-of-all-trades.

    So wondering if anybody here has experienced the same problems and also whether I should consider going back to college to get qualified or whether I should just stick my neck out there with a portfolio and see what the reaction is from potential employers/agencies?

    Any input or wisdom gratefully received.
  2. The Northerner

    The Northerner New Member


    I have spent 11 years of my 16 in one company, who specialised in a specific printed product. I worked my way up up from a designer to 'studio manager'.
    So When I finally moved on I felt I had a very specific portfolio and skillset. Coming from a small company background myself I relate to your post. As you
    have to cover all bases and all requirements.

    I am in a similar situation, as I do a bit of freelance through companies and I also have some clients I work with on a semi regular basis. Nothing sufficient to sustain
    anything Like my previous lifestyle. So I'm relatively new to the whole experience. It is obviously vastly different to a FT position as one minute you can be in a small
    quiet studio. The next in a large bustling studio with all the cool kids.

    In my opinion there is no harm in 'testing the water' to see what nibbles you get. Try signing up to some agencies, some specialise in getting you small contracts.
    Usually filling in when a studio has a large project they need to push through. Some will be they have just had a member leave so require temp cover. So you can look
    at that as an option. This will also allow you to pick up some new skills and also to put some new work into your folio. Not all freelance jobs require cutting edge solutions.
    At times they want a reliable person who can crack on with a task. As sometimes they can be quite mundane. I also think persona counts for a lot, can also help in securing
    future work. I have contacted a few agencies, some are better than others. You will be required to do a lot of calling up and seeing if anything has come in. Do make an
    appointment to go in and see them. In my personal opinion that is far better than an email or a phone call. I have had many phone calls with agents and nothing has come to fruition.
    The ones where I have been in to see them I have had a better strike ratio. As you should be working towards building a relationship with these people as it works in both parties favour.

    There is no harm in learning new skills from a college course or even buying into Lynda's series of professional tutorials. Maybe you could do both, possbily work in some part time.
    It is never too late, believe me I have had to tell myself this umpteen times.

    Where are you based at the moment?

    From what I gather there are some experienced individuals on here so no doubt they will drop in to give you some nuggets of advice too. If you have any more questions
    mate I'm happy to offer what advice I can.

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  3. Hey thanks for all this – really appreciate your time in saying what you have.

    I will try some agencies – are you talking about ones like Vitamin Talent when you say agencies?

    As you are saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Do you do a lot of web work these days or still graphic design? I ask because I make most of my money at the moment from web design but I hate it with a passion I can tell you!

    Much rather go back and specialise in graphic design which is where I started out. Learn some more software and design theory and get really specialised in this area – if there is still a demand for it.

    You mention some work can be very mundane rather than cutting edge – that's fine. A lot of the design work I do is quite mundane actually and I quite enjoy it and then switching to something more creative like logo design and identity. It suits me well.

    As long as it's not designing websites!

    Thx again
  4. The Northerner

    The Northerner New Member

    Not a problem happy to share what I do know on the subject.

    Personally haven't tried vitamin. But I may consider giving them and a call and try to arrange a meeting if they think they can get me work based on my folio.
    The two agencies I have had the most success with thus far is NAKAMA, predominantly digital stuff but are branching out into more Graphic/Print based clients.
    The other is Rose recruitment, they specialise more in the arts sector, I landed a fantastic opportunity with them though. I have applied for opportunities through Become
    but I only ever get the odd contact through on email from them. My initial contact has since left as is the nature of recruitment, he was pretty forthcoming and
    very positive about my skillset. Although some of the job offers did not match my skills, as they do have positions they have difficulty placing people and will really push them
    on you if they don't have anybody suitable on their books.

    Personally I do very little with web work, I have done the odd banner here and there and 'designed' ECRM's but not actually implemented them myself. It really is something
    that I should do. I started to learn HTML years ago but looking at lines of code really wasn't my bag. I think it has changed somewhat now though and really see some major
    developments in the way web pages are built. So might be something I work towards. Wordpress gives me hope :)

    I started life as a Product designer, work was hard to come by so I picked up a 'temporary job' as a MAC operator all those years ago. Was pretty much self taught on early
    versions of quarkxpress (a dirty word now but not back then), Photoshop and Illustrator I have predominantly had Print and Graphic Experience. Since then have been on some
    Adobe certified courses for Indesign to fill in those little gaps of knowledge. I find working at the same place for a long time you only use the program, to the level required by the job.
    Since then have been on some Adobe certified courses for Indesign to fill in those little gaps of knowledge. I find working at the same place for a long time you only use the program,
    to the level required by the job.

    There is nothing to say you cannot side step into something else. Obviously you have transferrable skills. If that is something that interests you then maybe look at a local
    colleges where the prices of a course can be cheaper and done at your own pace. Whilst still doing some part-time work or freelance.

  5. Wow! Thanks for the information.

    Nakama I'm just looking up and they look very interesting.

    Yes, front-end web design has changed a lot and you really don't need to do tons of coding these days and there are lots of web-page building software that are worth their salt, despite many in the industry poo-pooing them. Wordpress is great but what it's also done is to bastardise web design by 'training' customers that they can build their own website or just buy a theme and amend it by changing a few colours and play with several layouts until it all looks great – 6 months later, still tinkering DIY still trying to get it all working rather than investing in a professional web designer – can you hear me starting to rant now??

    I still use QuarkXpress despite having a CC subscription. I hate InDesign and find Quark so much easier for most page layout and graphic design jobs. But I realise that I have to move over to InDesign otherwise I'll have no chance of doing freelance work for agencies.

    Yes, I need to look further into the courses. There is a big college near me that does a lot of design/arts based courses so might investigate what they have to offer.

    Thanks again and when I've worked out how to write my first CV ever, I will sign up on those two sites you mentioned.

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