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Become A Freelance Designer

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Working As A Freelance Designer

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $57,387

    Average Salary

What Does A Freelance Designer Do

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Duties

Graphic designers typically do the following: 

  • Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
  • Use digital illustration, photo-editing software, and layout software to create designs
  • Create visual elements such as logos, original images, and illustrations that help deliver a desired message
  • Design layouts and select colors, images, and typefaces to use
  • Present design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Incorporate changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
  • Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them

Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.

Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a print or webpage, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Through the use of images, text, and color, graphic designers can transform statistical data into visual graphics and diagrams, which can make complex ideas more accessible.

Graphic design is important to marketing and selling products, and is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.

Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some create the graphics used on retail products packaging, still others may work on the visual designs used on book jackets.

Graphic designers need to keep up to date with the latest software and computer technologies to remain competitive.

Some individuals with a background in graphic design teach in design schools, colleges, and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Freelance Designer

Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should demonstrate their creativity and originality through a professional portfolio that features their best designs.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in another field may pursue technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 320 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most schools include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, all of which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.

High school students interested in graphic design should take basic art and design courses in high school, if the courses are available. Many bachelor's degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs. For many artists, including graphic designers, developing a portfolio—a collection of design ideas that demonstrates their styles and abilities—is essential because employers rely heavily on a designer’s portfolio in deciding whether to hire the individual.

Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs. Professional associations that specialize in graphic design, such as AIGA, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.

Other Experience

Graphic designers often gain their initial experience through internships. It provides aspiring graphic designers an opportunity to work with designers and experience the design process from concept to completion while completing a design program.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification programs are generally available through software product vendors. Certification in graphic design software can demonstrate a level of competence and may provide a jobseeker with a competitive advantage.

Advancement

Experienced graphic designers may advance to chief designer, art director, or other supervisory positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Graphic designers must be able to look at their work from the point of view of their consumers and examine how the designs they develop will be perceived by consumers to ensure they convey the client’s desired message.

Artistic ability. Graphic designers must be able to create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using computer programs.

Communication skills. Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately reflect the desired message and effectively express information.

Computer skills. Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.

Creativity. Graphic designers must be able to think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey a recognizable meaning on behalf of their clients.

Time-management skills. Graphic designers often work on multiple projects at the same time, each with a different deadline.

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Freelance Designer Jobs

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Freelance Designer Career Paths

Freelance Designer
Design Consultant Design Director Creative Director
Advertising Director
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Graphic Designer Creative Director
Chief Creative Officer
9 Yearsyrs
Creative Director Marketing Director Writer And Editor
Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Web Graphic Designer Senior Graphic Designer Art Director
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Graphic Designer Art Director
Creative Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Contract Designer Designer Senior Graphic Designer
Designation Marketing Director
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Graphic Designer Art Director Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Co-Owner Sales And Marketing Manager Marketing Manager/Project Manager
Digital Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Web Graphic Designer Creative Director
Director Of User Experience
10 Yearsyrs
Production Specialist Producer Freelance Producer
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Marketing Coordinator Communications Manager Communications Director
Marketing And Communication Consultant
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Art Director Creative Director
Marketing And Creative Director
7 Yearsyrs
Marketing Coordinator Marketing Manager Social Media Manager
Marketing/Social Media Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Technical Director Video Editor
Media Director
5 Yearsyrs
Design Consultant Design Manager Project Manager/Design Manager
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Creative Director User Experience Designer User Experience Architect
User Experience Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Marketing Director Writer And Editor Content Manager
Web Content Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Freelance Designer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Graphic Designer 3.1 years
Freelance Designer 3.0 years
Designer 3.0 years
Creative Designer 3.0 years
Designer, Printer 2.6 years
Marketing Designer 2.5 years
Visual Designer 2.4 years
Top Employers Before
Designer 9.5%
Internship 8.9%
Volunteer 1.7%
Top Employers After
Designer 10.1%
Internship 4.2%
Owner 1.8%

Do you work as a Freelance Designer?

Freelance Designer Demographics

Gender

Female

51.2%

Male

46.2%

Unknown

2.6%
Ethnicity

White

60.3%

Hispanic or Latino

15.8%

Black or African American

10.2%

Asian

10.0%

Unknown

3.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

42.9%

French

10.5%

Italian

7.4%

Chinese

5.9%

Mandarin

5.2%

Japanese

5.2%

Portuguese

4.8%

Korean

3.9%

Russian

3.3%

German

2.8%

Cantonese

2.0%

Arabic

1.8%

Polish

0.7%

Swedish

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Hebrew

0.6%

Bulgarian

0.6%

Vietnamese

0.6%

Czech

0.6%

Hindi

0.4%
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Freelance Designer Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

18.5%

Savannah College of Art and Design

17.3%

School of Visual Arts

5.1%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

5.0%

Rhode Island School of Design

4.8%

Academy of Art University

4.6%

Parsons the New School for Design

4.4%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.3%

Pratt Institute-Main

4.2%

Columbia College Chicago

4.2%

Syracuse University

3.8%

Full Sail University

3.4%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.3%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

2.9%

Art Center College of Design

2.6%

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

2.5%

Iowa State University

2.4%

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

2.3%

Art Institute of California - Inland

2.3%

Auburn University

2.1%
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Majors

Graphic Design

51.8%

Fine Arts

9.4%

Design And Visual Communication

6.4%

Computer Applications

3.6%

Communication

3.3%

Interior Design

3.1%

Business

2.5%

Animation

2.3%

Marketing

2.2%

Architecture

1.9%

Photography

1.8%

Graphic Communications

1.7%

Advertising

1.6%

Computer Science

1.4%

Drafting And Design

1.4%

Apparel And Textiles

1.3%

English

1.2%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.1%

Digital Media

1.0%

Education

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

59.1%

Other

15.1%

Associate

11.0%

Masters

9.8%

Certificate

3.9%

Diploma

0.9%

Doctorate

0.2%

License

0.1%
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Top Skills for A Freelance Designer

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  1. Company Logos
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Company Website
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed, implemented and facilitated contract negotiations for company logos/identities.
  • Redesign company promotional material, Edit photography through color balancing and image enhancement utilizing Adobe Photoshop to client requests and specifications.
  • Re-designed and maintained company website.
  • Web design experience and advertisement conceptualization and creation; client was a supply manufacturing company in the photography industry.
  • Designed invitation packages, (RSVP cards and envelopes), newsletters, ads and brochures.

How Would You Rate Working As a Freelance Designer?

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Top Freelance Designer Employers

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Jobs From Top Freelance Designer Employers

Freelance Designer Videos

The 36 Point How To Be a Freelance Designer

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