TIPS | How To Gain Designing Experience As A Self taught Graphic Designer?

8:24:00 PM

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One of the best ways to gain some official design experience as a self taught Graphic Designer is by Freelancing. 

Freelancing gives you the freedom to work with clients at your own time, and choose which projects you are comfortable working with. As you are just starting out you might want to take on the smaller projects that you know you can easily accomplish, and then progress onto bigger more complex projects. Why do so?

Bigger projects pay a lot more money, but if you have never worked with a client before you will set yourself up for failure. There will be demands that you will not be able to keep up with or certain tasks that you just aren't ready to handle, and deadlines that you just cannot meet as you aren't used to it. That will lead to a ton of disappointments, and many bad reviews that could tarnish your reputation. 

When freelancing start small to rack up some experience, and know what interacting with customers will be like. If you are stressed out with the smaller projects just imagine how much more stressful bigger clients will be if you start working at a design company. Overtime you will get used to the workload, revisions, customer service (yes, communication is key in this business), and deadlines. 

As a graphic designer you will get a ton of client briefs. 

In short, briefs are basically details on a clients project.

For example, let's say a client wants a logo design. Their brief will state that they want a logo design, with the colors that they choose, the font style that they want, the number of concepts that they want,  as well as what they want the logo to depict ( a car insurance company, a blog, a social media outlet, etc...)

It's specific details on what they want you to do for them, and the message they want you to send out about their brand. If you have no idea what a brief looks like you can browse a site like 99Designs, Designcrowd, or any other contest site to get an idea of what clients might throw at you. 

You do not have to enter these contest sites if you do not want to. This is just to get a taste of what some clients might post in their briefs. As these are contest sites not everyone gets paid for submitting a design, but some graphic designers actually make a living from crowdsourcing design sites (these designers are usually unbeatable. I have seen some contests in which if that one "unbeatable designer" enters everyone else withdraws...yes, that does happen) while others use it to build their portfolio.

Designers have a love hate relationship with these contest sites, but your thoughts on them are your own. 

Talking to people in real life can also have its benefits. Design, and communication work hand in hand so applying it in reality will give you a jump start. Do not be shy it will kill your progress. Go to your local stores, hair salons, photography studios, etc and get to talking. Market yourself, and let them know about your graphic design skills. 

Say that you are currently having a promotion, and would like to offer them a free trial of your graphic design services. Design a free promotional poster, business card, t-shirt, etc. Personally, I have benefited from talking to local start ups using the same techniques, and landed not only a Graphic Design position, but also experience as a beginning filmmaker.

When people see you, and meet you in real life you are not just some random person working behind the computer with a sketchy photo as a profile pic. They know who you are (they can see your face, and know your name) so in turn you become more credible and trust worthy especially when you show them you portfolio, and the experience you've gained as a freelancer. 

These are simply my suggestions based around what has worked for my friends, and some of my experiences so they are not set in stone. There are different ways to get graphic design experience. If you have any suggestions leave them in the comments below!

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