Career options - looking for opinions


New Member
Hi everyone. I've reached a bit of a crossroads in my career as a graphic designer and I'm possibly looking for some advice or direction.

Earlier this year, I set up my own company with a business partner and we got a studio and set up a limited company, then ran a graphic design and web development business together for a while. We struggled a lot at first but managed to pull in a bit of work between us. Because of reasons I won't go into the full background of here, we decided to split the business after 6 months and my ex business partner is now freelancing again (although things are more than amicable and we still pass some work to and fro). I now have the company to myself and I'm working from home until I can get a new studio, which now appears to be next month as I have some arrangements in place to share a work space with a few friends which is super cheap. Unfortunately my business has recently turned into a part time pursuit because work has died off somewhat and I'm now having to work in a couple of other part time jobs to get by.

A bit of background on me - I'm 39, I graduated late in life (aged 34) and have had about five years experience split between freelancing, working in house and working for a small graphic design studio before we started the company. The work at the studio I was working for slowed down and I found myself out of work, so I freelanced again for a few months then set up the new company pretty much on the spur of the moment. My experience is more in visual design (visuals, logos, typography, layout, that kind of thing) than web design but I've learned a bit over the past few years and now I'm developing sites for clients, mostly using Wordpress. I have a basic understanding of how HTML/CSS works and how to manipulate things but I'm no expert.

I really want to steer my career back towards visual design rather than technical stuff like building websites as this is where my passion is. I'm considering a few options. I could either carry on running the company I have, which will possibly provide me with a good income eventually, but my heart's really not in it since I'm working alone. Also I think I'll have to be a lot more general with my skills than I would be if I was to manage to get a job at a fair sized design company, as I could be part of a bigger team and specialise in the work I have more passion for and get the experience I wanted. Plus I don't have any super regular clients yet (possibly developing one but this remains to be seen).

I could gradually wind down the business and either start temping in a variety of companies to get some broader experience, or go for a full time job in a design studio instead. I'm really not sure what I want to do at the moment but I feel like something needs to change. The problem with running my own company is the fact I want more experience at being hands on and creative at this stage in my career rather than having to run a company and being caught up in admin, marketing, accounting, networking etc whilst trying to develop more skills and an ever better portfolio.

So... has anyone here had experience of doing temp work for a creative employment agency? Good idea or not? Are there any agencies you would recommend? Particularly ones in North West England. It seems to me like a good route to get a varied portfolio quickly and some kind of decent steady income (another thing I really miss) but I'm not sure how regular the work would typically be.

Also, as I've been running my own company and working for myself, any potential employer may look upon my business as a failure and view my application negatively because I was giving up my business to work for someone else. Or maybe they would think because I'd worked for myself I'd be more difficult to direct as I was used to doing things my own way. I'm trying to think how to get around this in terms of my job application/CV, I don't know...

I guess there's no direct questions there but that's my situation. Any opinions from anyone who has them, or has been in a similar situation would be more than welcome!

Thanks in advance :thumb:
I probably rambled on a bit in that first post :) But I need to look at all my options carefully before I decide which direction is the best to take, and some outside opinions from people who understand where I'm coming from might help me to make the decision.

Basic questions -

How do I make my CV look appealing when applying for jobs if I've worked for myself (own company and freelance)? I don't want a potential employer to view any application unfavourably because I've worked for myself if that's the direction I decide to take. If I do try and get a job at a design studio it will be because that's the next best step for me in my career and where my ambition is heading, which I will want to communicate in my application, but I'm not sure how to do this.

Has anyone had first hand experience of working with a recruitment agency and doing temporary work in the creative sector? Is it a frustrating way to make a living (infrequent work/income) or a good way to build up a varied portfolio and gain experience working for a number of companies, and maybe even get a foot in the door of somewhere? I'm aware that a lot of companies/studios use interns and students, so this type of work may be difficult to get.

Any thoughts?