1.Tells us some background information,your education,what you do, how long you’ve been doing it.
Graduating from Western Michigan University in ’04 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, my main objective was to have a career in news radio, like WWJ. However, with only a limited amount of on-air skills, I decided to work at a radio station to get more experience in the broadcasting environment. As of now, I have been at 100.3 WNIC for almost 5 years as a promotions assistant and have been on-air not once. During this time, I had been keeping up with my writing by writing in newsletters and things with my church and local community. A year and a half after graduating WMU, I decided I needed to go back to school to do something more and to make more money and I decided to get into Graphic Design as a way to bring pictures and words together. With a lot of my WMU credits transferring, I was able to graduate in 2 1/2 years. After interning at Farago & Associates in Berkley, they kept me on and hired me as a part-time graphic designer. Farago & Associates is an advertising publishing company that publishes @ home magazines all over the U.S., including, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Texas. We also do coupon books in Texas, Ohio, and other areas. So, really we don’t do any publishing for Michigan. In addition to working at NIC and Farago, I freelance for my company, eh design which I am now in the process of filling out paperwork to become an LLC.
2.What made you become an artist/designer?
I became a graphic designer because everytime I read magazines I always thought ads were great and that I wanted to do something like that. I really wanted to do something with my writing abilities and I think type and pictures work cohesively to convey the same message.
3.In the beginning of your career how did you market yourself?
I have done and continue to do A LOT of work for my church. We have services, events, fundraisers that happen yearly and with my mom being the missionary president (at the time) I would make the flyers and service programs for her. People found out about me and what I do based on the things I have done for my church and for my family. Because I wasn’t doing anything traditional, (church flyers are VERY traditional and boring) people would remember and ask my mom who did it. So I got known by my work and word of mouth. Seriously, the freelance work I do comes from other people. I really don’t have to pass out business cards at all. So, if you haven’t already, start doing stuff for your church. In the beginning, it’s free but as people start noticing, the money will come.
4.What tools do you use, software and hardware?
My favorite program is indesign. LOVES IT. As a freelancer, due to most of my work being newlsetters and brochures, I use it more than most I believe. I use photoshop next and I rarely ever use illustrator. Also, at Farago, a lot of the work and ads are done in indesign with minimal photoshop. That is used just to convert to CMYK and clean up pictures if necessary.
5.How do you manage the business side?
Business wise, I DO NOT do work without a business proposal. My philosophy is This is buisness. Whether it is a friend, family, a church member, whomever, I always have a business proposal that has to be signed. I also have an initial payment written where I get a 50% payment that has to be included with the signed proposal. The proposal serves a tool for both you and the client to have a document of what they are getting. They have a week to read, understand, and sign the proposal and all money and expectations are included. I don’t sugarcoat on price, and once I set a price I stick to it. I don’t negotiate or lower my prices. I know what I do is good and I deserve to get paid for it. They came to me. That sounds harsh but it is so the truth. I refuse to get shafted. Plus, I learned it from Tip Quilter who helped me with my proposal so I know it is on point. HA
6.where and how do you get inspiration to design?
Most of inspiration comes from what I see throughout my day. Whether it is on tv, at a red light, or sometimes I dream about colors or a specific layout that I haven’t tried yet. I really love colors and fabrics so I go to Michaels and JoAnn’s a lot just to see what colors are there and to see if I can incorporate them somehow. If I see and ad with a certain lighting, I try to do something similar in a future project.
7.what is some advice you can give to people just starting out?
Here are some things I have learned along the way:
-Be willing to do some work for free whether it is for your church or your cousin’s graduation party. They will talk for you to other people and it’s free publicity.
-While we are taught to do thumbnails, I have learned that I don’t have the freaking time to do them. Since my internship in June ’08 up until now, I have done exactly 3 thumbnails. What little thumbnails that I have done, they helped me do a quick layout of what I wanted to do. With that being said I say this: make sure you meet ALL of your deadlines. Whether it is in school or business, if a deadline is set, meet it.
– As you gain more skills, you get more quick in how you want things to look on the page. So, make sure you know how to problem solve quickly and efficiently. I remember working on this ad for a furniture company. They had like 13 or 15 pictures they wanted in the ad for a 1/2 page. um, yeah, that is not a lot of space to work with when you have to put prices, coupons, and other text. Make sure you are able to work within a certain space and can adjust.
– Design work is not so sexy. In school, there were times we can do really cool stuff with photoshop. Yeah, in real life, it doesn’t work like that. The cool thing everyone wants are starbursts. Starbursts suck and I hate them. People like the colors, yellow and black…ALOT. I hate those colors. Set your mind that you aren’t going to be doing flashy and spectacular things all the time. There are clients who know exactly what they want and don’t want you to deviate from the script and you have to do it. My favorite clients are the ones who say, be creative or do what you want. So you have to be able to design with creative appeal and then you have to be happy doing the boring stuff.
– Have a business proposal for every job you do even if it for a flat fee/not a lot of money. It shows that you are doing things professionally and that you know what you are doing; it also gives some kind of documentation for that ‘just in case.’
-When you set a price, stick to it. This is business. They want what you have and that is your mind, you do deserve to get paid for it cause you know you got bills to pay. Check around to see what people are charging and go a little high or a little low, but once you set the price, don’t compromise.
Thank you Elizabeth for taking the time to share with us.