New Designer needs advice please!


New Member
Hi there,

I've been really interested in graphic design for a good few years now. I've always been a creative, played guitar for years, drawn and painted since I was a kid... and I've become more and more fascinated by great design.

I've decided I would like to start a career as a Graphic Designer, or at least start thinking about how I will go about it. Obviously I don't plan to quit my day job just yet and this would purely be a side project at least until I had a few projects under my belt.

The biggest question I have, is something I've wondered for a while, and something I've never found an answer for.

I understand the best way to start putting your work out there is to build a good portfolio, and a website. The problem is, I just don't know what to put in a portfolio, how can I build a portfolio when I haven't done any jobs!

Any advice or suggestions would be great.

You could do what Maddy (another GDF member) has done and offer your services for free for your first few jobs. You'll get clients biting your hand off.

Its a quick way to build up a folio of real clients and jobs, rather than a folio of dummy briefs.

Once you've built up some work it will then be easier to get into tendering for paid jobs as you'll have some work behind you and hopefully some great testimonials from happy clients :icon_thumbup:

Thanks for the reply.

In all honesty I wasn't expecting to charge to begin with anyway, or if necessary, a very minimal amount to do just as you said, get a few official jobs completed.

But I guess my question is even before that stage, how would I get non-paying clients with no portfolio!

Apologies for my ignorance, I just have no idea where to start.

Thanks again
Well, it really comes down to this; What has the client got to lose by getting you to do something for them for nothing :)

What you do is get yourself onto some of the business forums, go into the tenders and /or introduction section and offer your services for free to anyone needing graphic design (for a limited period of time).

You explain that you are just starting out in the industry and that as such you are willing to offer your services for free to build up your portfolio. That way everyone is open and aware of the situation.

If that's as clear as mud, apologies, its been a very very long weekend :)
Nope that's perfectly clear thanks for the reply.

I suppose one other benefit would be that even if I was unsuccessful in getting the job, I would have gone through the process of taking on a real brief and would still have something I could potentially use as something to show potential clients.

That's a great help anyway, thanks very much.

What are some of the best sites to watch for job postings?

Thanks again.
Hi There

I was sent in your direction, as I am emailing on my mums behalf, she has a dog grooming business and I am currently updating her website.

I am looking for a logo, as our website designer intially made a homepage that we are not happy with and didn't ask for, mainly because when you go to our homepage and click through the links, it looks like another website, which is not good.

I am after a logo, we have a banner which is the same design as our shop sign, and have a template of a logo in the same design again, but could do with some desgn and making look more professional.

Maybe you could help? As we are both starting out?


Hi there Mark,

I'll certainly take a look at what you want doing if you send me a brief and explain a bit more about your business and exactly what you want doing.

I'll PM you my email address and you can contact me via that.

the way i started off was quite risky. Although i studied graphic design at uni i started working freelance way before i started higher education. I targeted my clients, for example, one of my first jobs was for Salford university in 2000. I made an appointment with the marketing department and went along with ideas i had for prospectus designs for the 2001 academic year. went a long with some designs and they liked them.

do some research for local networking events, I attend one each week called breakfast network. its a great way to get new business or just create an awareness for yourself.

I do a lot of work with local small businesses, i do offer free design services but they come with conditions.
if i design for free then:
1. the designs when printed must carry my company name and contact details in a discrete area.
2. the designs are mine and they cant use them else where.
3. the artwork is not supplied on a cd or sent via email.

this just covers your hard work, and if they require any re-prints of your design then they have to come back to you.

there are a lot of companies out there that offer amazing prices on print but they have similar terms n conditions as above. e.g there is a company not so far from me that offers 10,000 a5 double sided flyers for £99 but only if they do the artwork for you, and they charge about £90 - £140 for the artwork. but on all the advertising they do there is no mention of artwork costs. I wouldn't advise you go down that road.
Hiding any sort of pricing from a client only to sting them with it at the twelfth hour is very bad. I hate it when i get stung with stuff like that.

The idea from Yasin to go along to some business networking events is a good one. It can be bloody scary and nerve racking for the first one or two, but the chances of you picking up work are good and you'll start to make good connections.

Most of my portfolio is made up of personal work.

A bulk of it is (will be when finished) illustrations I'm working on for a book for my daughter.

Other kinds of sketches I've found myself doing in my spare time that have ended up being redone in photoshop, or just things I've done from idea's I've had myself.