If you’re a creative professional, chances are you’ve come across some of these hard-earned lessons throughout your career. The fact is because Digital Marketing is crucial to all kinds of business strategies, working as a creative professional no longer means just touting your talents and cashing a check for it.
In this article, our Gallardo Labs visual artists and graphic designers Daniel Gonzalez, Sr. Art Director & Illustrator, and Carolina Muñoz, Senior Art Director, share what they wish they’d learned before working as a creative professional.
1 – You’ll Often Work Late Hours
I wish someone had told me that being a graphic designer means you’ll have to work late hours to succeed, because you spend a lot of time finding solutions to always changing clients and also spend a lot of time creating, thinking, learning, and building. Being a graphic designer is not a 9 to 5 job.
Also, we spend so much time working on those projects, but people don’t always see the effort that it takes to create something. It doesn’t just come from nowhere, and sometimes, clients don’t see why you are not charging cheap rates. Being a creative means you’ll also need to factor in time for ideation, inspiration, development, redesigning, reimagining, and, most likely, a slew of edits. None of that happens on a 9 to 5 schedule.
2 – Design Tools Are Not Cheap
I wish someone had told me that talent and hard work are important, but also investing in the right equipment, the right software for designing, or even to save your work, is not cheap and equally important. And, unfortunately, necessary hardware are software keeps getting more expensive. For example, Apple is always finding a way to push their prices and products up, and they are great tools, but… when is it time to stop that cycle and take advantage of what you already have?
Can we compete with those that can afford those kinds of amazing tools? In order to succeed on a professional scale, you’ll have to invest time and money. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself in a position where you’ll be able to keep up with the demand for the right tools, such as working for a company that can provide these essentials, or investing in something that will stand the test of time better than most. Some tools for staying organized are free. But the reality is that, in digital design, marketing, and creative work, often, the tools of the trade are pricey.
3 – You’ll Have to Be Your Own Salesperson
We are graphic designers, not salespersons. But when you are starting your own business or working as a freelancer, it is always about talking with clients, investing time on them, and really getting to know them to get their attention. It is not an easy task, and as a designer, you often don’t expect this part of the process and are not usually prepared for it.
Some good habits I wish I had learned in the past would be to go outside, meet people, and be fearless. Somebody you meet can turn out to be very valuable for a future project. You don’t know where things will lean. It’s important to create a social network around you and get confident and comfortable with talking to people.
4 – Don’t Say “Yes” to Every Project
Not every project is gold.
Finding clients is hard sometimes, but it’s even harder to find the correct one. It’s not just about the money; you need to find the right balance between good portfolio work and well-paid projects, or differentiate between the ones that are worth it and the others that don’t make sense to spend any time on.
It’s kind of like hiring someone for a position, because you need to make sure that this person is reliable, has a good budget, and is serious about the business. Working on a project takes time, and you have to make sure both parties are happy, especially you.
Don’t go for the ones that only want a business card design, for example. Or if you find a way to make it doable, but the client is not paying a lot, or doesn’t have a good budget, they are not going to have the best design, because the time that you can spend with that money is usually not enough. That’s something that has to be clear from the beginning.
This is something that you learn with years, it is not easy to say no, especially when there’s money in the middle, but again… It’s a lesson I wish somebody had told me at the beginning of my career because it’s extremely valuable in maintaining a successful client list. Finding balance, for yourself, your wallet, and your client is difficult but absolutely necessary.
5. You’ll Have to Reinvent Yourself
Graphic design used to be something else before, a lot of print, handmade typography, a lot of paper and glue. We knew that the times were changing fast, but over the past 10 years a lot of things had evolved.
As designers you have to keep up with the technology. You have to reinvent yourself every time, find new ways to do things, new tools, softwares. The digital world is taking over each company; it’s what pays the bills for a lot of people now.
We are creating apps, websites, and emails these days. And that means we cannot afford to waste our time looking back.
Are you a creative professional? What are some lessons you wish you’d known about early on in your career? Share with us in the comments or sound off on social @gallardolabs.