Every once in awhile an opportunity arises for freelancers to present their work or expertise to peers and prospective clients. Agreeing to take part is at best a fantastic chance to network, a way to exchange ideas and insights or to pick up contacts that will give you work. At worst, it is a terrifying and overwhelming commitment.
Designing a slide deck is one of the first steps to prepare for a presentation and will help guide the organization of your talk. Engaging slides will not only help you better communicate your ideas to your audience, it will demonstrate your professionalism, and knowing you’ve got a good deck will reinforce your confidence as you get up to speak. Continue Reading
Pursuing a design career sometimes means uprooting a life and moving it somewhere new. Opportunities are more obvious in larger cities, where meeting new people, taking risks, and getting involved in a design community are more the norm than in small towns. And sometimes a small town offers the respite necessary to push through creative blockage.
As someone who has made the transition three times, crossing two international borders, I can confidently say it isn’t as easy as it looks. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Many designers stumble into the web industry from a fine arts background. Working commercially is a natural progression for artists – not only does it make for a reliable income, but you have the pleasure of making something useful for a wide audience. Furthermore, both art and design draw on many of the same concepts and we artist/designers are often able to incorporate our art skills into designs and illustrations.
Sometimes, however, the inspiration behind creating original artwork is missing from the design process, especially when cranking out content-managed websites or banner campaigns. A return to artistic roots often becomes an unavoidable want, and for me, such an instinct meant deciding to paint thirty portraits in three weeks during a trip back home. What surprised me was how much I discovered portrait painting could actually make me a better graphic designer.
Two weeks ago, in Part One of this article were tips on how to assess a rush job and when it might be a good idea to turn one down. Some of this season’s Layer Tennis contestants also shared thoughts about how they work under the strain of a tight deadline. In this half of the article are some tips for how to work quickly without completely abandoning your creative process. Continue Reading
Part 1: Why the Rush?
Something about the end of December looms as a natural deadline. Project fires have been burning steadily through November but this month, they are burning brightly, finally recognizable as problems that need to be controlled. And who gets the pleading call that says “Help me extinguish this” but the freelancer? Whether we like it or not, the role of fireman or firewoman is precisely what many see as the advantage of freelancers – we exist to help people out of a tight spot. Or do we? What exactly is our role in projects with superhuman requirements, and how do we get through them while maintaining a sense of best practice?
This article examines these questions in two parts, first looking at how and why we make rush jobs a part of what we do and then in part two we’ll dig into some tips and tricks to execute designs under urgent deadlines. In both articles I will share insights from some of this season’s extraordinary Layer Tennis players who are used to being short on time. They have generously taken an extra moment to afford our freelance community their words of warning and wisdom. Continue Reading
Presenting designs to clients is a tricky part of the project cycle. You need to convince the client that your vision is worth following, and there’s a lot at stake. On one side of the outcome spectrum lies helpful feedback and renewed motivation; on the other side there are endless design iterations and versioning nightmares. (Ever named a file HomepageFinalForRealThisTimeVersion7.psd?) So how do you consistently land yourself on the better side of the project? The answer is simple: good communication. Moving a project forward without getting bitten later hinges on the ability to state your position clearly as well as listen to feedback from others. Here are some presentation tips that will improve your communication skills and make the design presentation a less harrowing experience. Continue Reading
I’ve noticed a rash of design professionals leaving their jobs lately to pursue creative freedom. Designer Frank Chimero, Helen Walters of BusinessWeek, Andrio Abero of Wieden+Kenndey, and Alex Bogusky of MDC Partners have all written high-profile accounts or made announcements about going on hiatus or quitting. There are countless others leaving both high-ranking positions as well as quieter corners. Is this an industry that is constantly in flux, or is there something to be said about all the ship-jumping? While each “adventurer” (a less patronizing title than “dreamer”) will have their own personal reasons, I can offer some insight into my own recent experience of striking out on my own. Continue Reading