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Hi. Sorry to bother you but I was just wondering, as an experienced Graphic Designer, do you recommend a new graduate (*cough*myself, of course. Graduated last Thursday with a 4.0 GPA in Digital Design~) to look into working for a 'company' or try being a freelancer? I have letters of recommendation from my professors and redesigned the school's newspaper. I would like to be a freelance artist but my mom doesn't think I'll make much money unless I join a company. Sorry to bother you. Thank you~

D’awww it’s no problem and thanks for the thoughtful question!

Short answer is: In the end, it depends on you - buuut, I would advise against only freelancing straight out of college.

Long answer: Freelance is tricky, and going into it right from college is not the answer for most artists. While freelancing can be lucrative done right and often yields money in the short term, many young artists often fail at making a long-term sustainable living off of it.

There are common characteristics in successful Graphic Design Freelancers, and a lot of it has to do with how well do you socialize with strangers, understanding your dollar worth, and having good business strategies in place from the get go.

Rarely does amazing work figure into it - I have seen talented artists fail, and terrible artists thrive in the freelance environment. It really depends on just how well they can communicate with their network and their clients.

But before you fall into freelance work, know this ahead of time:
• Freelance is cut-throat and the work is often not stable - and while an artist may think "Well I don’t have to look for jobs, jobs will find me," the truth of the matter is, as a freelancer you will spend much of your time looking for work over and over again. On average you will have moments where you have a high volume of work, and periods of no works at all - prepare for it and it can be an oasis before another storm :)

• Undergraduates and Recent Graduates Undersell - without experience it is hard to gauge what price to charge for a specific service, and while everyone’s method is different, one thing that I notice happening frequently is young designers either underselling their skills or over-estimating how much work you are going to put into that "simple" project (which is ok to do at first, but if you don’t start wising up, you may be moving back with Mom).
• Freelancing is different than pleasing teachers - They are Creatives, and as Artists they understand how to tell you what they are looking for and what you did right or wrong. Unless you are in a studio with an art-director, you can believe that most clients will have trouble explaining what they like and why they like it (see

& when you are designing for someone who is paying to you to give life to their brand, you’ll find they will scrutinize every last detail until they are satisfied, even if your previous version is technically designed better, and if you don’t make the grade, you will have to be prepared to do it over

Also, Be aware that Freelancing still work, so be prepared to file taxes!
You’ll have to keep track of everything but if you find a good accountant that will help you get the most out of your freelancing career.

For me, I recommended going to a company first, and slowly building your freelance network over time.

There are alot of different types of companies out there, and if a design studio or advertising firm is not where you want to go, there are other types of companies out there that have an in-house designer position.

But hey, maybe you have a solid portfolio or a unique look, and want to venture out and be a freelance designer. If nothing above deterred you, and you have a good business sensibility, GO FOR IT!

You know what is right for you - and if you follow your gut and persevere then you will eventually find success regardless of what path you take.

I hope that helps,

And always, questions are awesome - Always feel free to send me an ask!

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