The Not-So Glamorous Life of a Graphic Designer

As well as my editorial work on VOXX Magazine, just recently I’ve been drafted in to do a number of graphic design projects for other businesses. One of them was fun, and straightforward, with excellent communication. But the one in particular that I’m working on right now hasn’t been quite so enjoyable… You see, when you think of doing web graphics and posters or flyers, you’d instantly imagine it’s great fun and hardly like a job at all, but what the experts don’t tell you is that you’re in for a stressful period of time where by the end you’ll be rushing home to crack open the booze and straight downing whatever you have in your cabinet just to readjust back into normal life.

So, for the benefit of any of you who might be considering freelancing in a creative industry, here are four little things to keep in mind…

  1. There’s always a chance your client won’t even know exactly what they want until they see it, so while you could be given a detailed brief, you might also be left with sweeping creative freedom. In this case, you’re probably not going to get it right the first time, or the second, or the third… Clients always have a vision, but sometimes they fail to articulate exactly what that vision is – so get ready for that and try not to grow too attached to one particular design too early.
  2. Unless your client comes from a marketing background themselves, they probably won’t have a clue how to create even a poster on a computer. They might not understand the meaning of JPEG or PDF, never mind the software and techniques you plan on using. Learning patience and polite professionalism is essential in this line of work, and sometimes you’ll just have to make them accept that their request is unreasonable while resisting the urge to scream in their face after you’ve explained the same point a thousand times.
  3. Even with the most detailed brief, there will always be a hundred little changes that need making before you present the final product, so communication is key, especially when on a tight deadline. If you’re not getting the information you need, ask for it, because there’s nothing worse than waiting days on information or logos you might need from their end and then getting complained at if you haven’t completed the job within an hour of them updating you, “because it has to be done today”.
  4. You never know how flaky a client is going to be. While they may not leave you enough time to complete a project, as outlined above, it’s even worse if they fail to pay up. You’re in every right to politely remind them of your deal, but don’t hold your breath on an instant return.

Don’t get me wrong, the work can be great, but it’s important to remember, as with any job, that there are pretty shit factors lurking in the background too. Sometimes, I find it good to just vent, but believe me when I say that next time you’re given an infuriating project at work, school or for any venture in life, I get it; I’m with you, and if I can survive to fight another day, so can you.

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