Updated: Jun 2, 2020
The third year of university studying graphic design, is very much about independent studying, using all the skills you've learnt over the last two years and creating a final project, working through it and overcoming any issues as you go. This is a brilliant way to get a taste of what life after university will be like, obviously there is help from tutors if you need it still. Along side working on your own final project, there is also the professional promotion brief which covers looking into ways to get yourself into a creative job or getting freelance work, creating a portfolio and a C.V. and looking into things like professional process and copyright. All of which I will try document on this blog. Along side this, I am creating my own personal sketchbook that I will be able to keep with me, even after university, to use for inspiration, idea generation and reminders of professional processes during any future projects.
My plan after graduating is to work as a freelance designer/illustrator, so I think it is important to try to stick with the working practices and processes I have learned over the last three years, then when I approach a design brief it will be with a process that is, not only professional, but works well for me.
When you receive a brief the most important thing to do is read it and understand what it is asking for, and ask questions if there are things you need to know. There's no point spending hours on a project when you've not really understood what the client was asking for.
It is also very important to do your research on a project, this will help you to understand the client you are working for and the type of image or look would work for them. Find out what the target audience is, this could massively change the overall look of a project when you take into account the age, gender, lifestyles or communities your are aiming the project at. Look into other companies or areas of work that do a similar thing to your client, look at what they do or have done in the past, so as not to create anything that's already been done.
I love a good old brainstorm with a messy mind map, I think this is the best way for me to get ideas flowing at the start of the design process. Writing words and doodling pictures can get my mind working and the ideas that flow can create some brilliant ideas. Some ideas that I don't use are always good to keep for future projects too!
Keep in contact with the client. When you have at least two or three ideas drawn out in a basic form, ask what their thoughts are, if your ideas are along the line of what they were thinking of, if they are happy with progress so far then go on working on if, if not at this point you've not wasted too much time on something they didn't want. You can always try to convince a client of your ideas, explain how and why you think it would work, maybe it's more fashionable and would reach a new target audience, or so totally different from anything their competitors have that it would really stand out!
When an idea has been agreed on, it is a matter of working on the project in a professional way, meeting the targets the client has asked for, in a time frame that has been agreed on. Along the way there will probably be a lot of backwards and forwards with the client, lots of little changes here and there to deal with. When the project is finished and everyone is happy, the work can be sent to the client and the job is done!!
So basically, when you get a new brief, read it and understand it, research, brainstorm, ask question, meet the target within the time frame and had in the work!
Create an Online Presence
Social media is such an amazing way to get yourself and your work out into the world for people to see. Publishing images of your work on Instagram for example, using hashtags will instantly put your work into the correct category for others to find, or to include @someone for an instant connection. It can create an online portfolio of all of your work from sketchbook pages to finished work, documenting your working process in a way.
For a more finished digital portfolio, Behance is a fantastic site to use. There are so many different creative categories to showcase your work under such as graphic design, photography, illustration, fashion, game design and so many more, and its so easy to use.
LinkedIn is social media for professionals to network, to make connections with other people and to find jobs. In connection with this there is also LinkedIn Learning which gives you access to 'expert led online video tutorials' on hundreds of different subjects, all designed to further your career.
Create a Physical Portfolio
Although everything seems to be online and is an amazing place to get your work out there, it is also important to create yourself a physical portfolio for those opportunities where you will be meeting people face to face at shows, events or job interviews. Choosing yourself the right size portfolio to suit your work is important, most people chose either A4 or A3, and if possible invest in one that not only looks professional, but also will protect your work and last for a long time. Chose some of your favourite work that shows off your talents the most, include a variety to showcase different skills is also a good idea.
It is a good idea to keep your C.V. up to date, most job applications are done online now so keeping it digital is easier to add as an attachment. If you have a website as part of your self promotion you could add a link to your C.V. from there too.
I have redesigned my C.V. this year so that it is more interesting. I have combined my C.V. with my portfolio and created a set of A6 postcards that fit nicely into a wallet along side my business card. There is a link in my website in the 'about' section to the postcards in pdf version.
I created my first business cards last year. The actual card I purchased from Moo (who were really good), then I made myself little card wallets with a design cut out of the front for the business cards to go in (these are pictured in the slide show at the bottom of this page). I am designing new ones at the moment, just to create something a bit different. Most things are done online now so the opportunity to hand someone a business card with my details one probably won't happen very often, but they are a really useful thing to have if you find yourself doing shows, illustration or book fairs, or meeting people at talks or networking events, which are all brilliant thing to do to promote your work.
Digital Portfolio as a PDF
I have been working on creating a new layout for my physical portfolio that contains a number of photographs of my work, with a short paragraph to give a basic breakdown of what the brief was and the work I created in response, on the opposite page I am going to display, where possible, some actual work. These pages I have created, pictured above, I think will also work well as a digital portfolio, so I have saved a copy of these pages as a pdf with a link to them on my website in the 'about' section.
Starting work as a freelance designer/illustrator, I have been looking into ways to keep myself motivated in my work, ways to keep inspiration flowing and ways to try to boost my career by getting my work seen. Here are some things that I have found so far...
This is a site I came across while I was on a news app on my phone and is a definite go to for me now, Creative Bloq is an online site that offers art and design inspiration. On its home page the search bar has links to news, inspiration, how to, features, magazines and events. It also has specific topics like graphic design, web design, art, 3D and jobs that you can click on. I have printed off some articles from this site for my sketchbook for future reference such as '4 tips for your first year as a freelance illustrator' by Daniel Piper, where he talks about getting organised, doing personal projects and doing work you enjoy doing, and '4 lessons from the greatest illustrators ever' by Jim McCauley, looking at some lessons learnt from people like Beatrix Potter, Quentin Blake and Judith Kerr.
Social media sites such as Instagram are brilliant for inspiration, how to and making connections, especially when creatives and professionals share videos explaining their own techniques and take part in question and answer sessions.
A brilliant person to follow for professional practices and advice is thechrisdo (@thechrisdo). I follow him on Instagram but he is on a few different social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. His posts are like mini power point presentations with short and to the point information. Very helpful!
The British Library is another good one to follow on Instagram, their posts are of ramdom topics, but when you click on them they open up links to different, related subjects which are brilliant for research points.
There are so many out there if you look for them! At university you are given live briefs and told about competitions such as D&AD and the Penguin Student Award, but I have found websites that are all about live competitions for different skills such as graphic design, illustration, poster design, awareness campaigns and book writing/illustrating. Some of them require an entry fee, but quite often, if you do well, your work my be displayed either in a show on online and there are usually prizes to be won. This would be a great thing to add to your portfolio and C.V.
These are a few examples of what illustration competitions I have found, most of these will run every year.
Working as a freelance designer/illustrator it is important that I look into and properly research the professional working and legal requirements I will need to follow. These thing will keep me covered professionally and also protect me and my work legally so it is very important.
Below in the images of my sketchbook there is a page that has a handout from a tutor which outlines the rules of copyright in an easily understandable way, and I will be keeping this and using it as reference as long as I need to. To quote one page, it says,
PUTTING IT SIMPLY! No one has the right to use any 'original' work you create without your permission. You do not have the right to use anyone else's 'original' work without their permission!
Copyright is a law that gives creators of literary, musical, art work, film, typography and other creative works, the rights to control the ways in which their work may be used. The copyright of a piece of work is valid as soon as a piece of original work is created and belongs to the creator until 70 years after the creative has died! It is possible to use work created by someone else if you have their permission to use it, or for reasons of research, review and study.
For the full information about copyright click this link.
The information I used in this section was referenced from this site. www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law
I found an article online called 'Art is subjective, but the law isn't: five essential legal principles for graphic designers' written on March 14th 2016, by insurance company Axa.
The five points it covers are Image copyright, Font licensing, Creative commons, 'Fair use' and Client obligations. There are some easy to understand, short paragraphs on this article that cover these things, the link to the site is below and is definitely worth a look. I have printed a copy for my sketchbook referencing and is pictured in the slideshow of sketch book images at the bottom of this page.