My Education: BA, Fine Arts, plus various graphic design seminars and courses
My Prior Experience: I worked in corporate America for 15 years and then started my own freelance graphic design company.
My Company: I design brochures, logos, newsletters, ads, postcards, die-cut pocket folders, posters and just about any printed piece that a company might need to run its business.
Job/Career Overview: I try to add to a companies "bottom line" by designing concise marketing materials that help sell, educate or alert existing or potential customers. I do this by using time-tested design principles that merge illustrations, photography and good copy and text into a finished piece. Each project is different and has its own budget, timeline and goal. Most of my business comes from designing company logos, business cards, brochures, newsletters, mailing pieces and die-cut pocket folders. I also do video slip covers, DVD cover art, ads and trade show booths. I design until the client is satisfied and we have achieved his goal. I work on a Mac with InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator and Acrobat primarily to create whatever the client needs. I also use CorelDRAW and QuarkXPress on a PC. I then print and deliver it to them using a network of about 60 local printers. I try to be a one-stop shop.
More Insights: If you plan on working as a freelancer, join an art club. Join a few networking groups like your local Chamber of Commerce, a BNI chapter, the Lions or Rotary club. Get your name out there!
I rate this career 7 out of 10.
The best part of my job is designing something for a client that is original and personal, suited just for his or her company or goal. I love "creating something out of nothing".
The worst part of my job is the billing, selling and accounting portion of owning your own business. This takes time away from designing, illustrating, photo manipulating and copy writing which is what designers really went into business for in the first place.
Take a work-study job or an internship even if it is non-paying. This will give you experience you cannot get in the classroom environment.
I would also recommend taking some accounting courses if you plan on running your own firm.
Lastly, if you are even slightly interested in Web work vs. print work, I would recommend taking more courses in HTML, Java script, Dreamweaver and other web-based scripts because a person with three years experience can command the same salary I can as a "print" designer with 20 years experience. I cannot explain this other than to say, corporate America just seems to value web-based skills more than print-based skills.