Freelance graphic designers are a fearless bunch!
That theme came through loud and clear from the graphic design members of The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City who responded to our email questionnaire.
They overcame the doubt, ditched the hesitancy, and jumped headlong into the world of freelancing.
For instance, Linda Waterborg wrote that she had wanted to go out on her own for years, “but I was scared and always found a reason to stay in a 9-to-5 job.” She added, “I kept trying, and learning, and failing, and trying again, and growing.” Then, one day, she realized she had all the right skills and building blocks in place to make the move.
The biggest lesson for Waterborg as a freelance graphic designer was to keep pushing outside her comfort zone, something Holly Hempfling embraced as well in describing the best piece of career advice she has received: “Lean into fear! If it feels terrifying, you should probably go for it.”
It’s cool how these sentiments transcend our specialties. Many of us can identify with that feeling of being on the edge of the high dive with our careers — wondering if we should leap into the unknown waters of freelancing. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the approximately 265,000 graphic designers employed in the U.S in 2021, about one in five was self-employed.
Who among us, for instance, has not had some version of the experience related by Annie Monfort, a freelance graphic designer? She wrote that her tipping point came when “the certainty of staying in a job where I was bored, became scarier than the uncertainty of figuring out everything you need to know to support yourself.”
Tolerating the unknowns and discomforts of freelancing, she wrote, “is honestly one of the most valuable lessons for all aspects of life.”
Freelancing also provides a greater promise that we will love what we do for work, a sentiment underscored by Jake Edmisten and Jen Rarey. Their comments apply well beyond those who work as freelance graphic designers.
For Edmisten, that realization came in the form of advice from someone he used to work with, who stressed the importance of pursuing passion projects. That former co-worker, Edmisten wrote, “told me that I needed to make time for myself, because I wouldn’t find the jobs that I want by doing the work I didn’t want.”
Rarey has learned that investing your time and talents into work that has meaning allows you to “always be passionate about what you’re creating.” Be bold, she urged, and “see challenges as the opportunities that they are, and learn from every experience so you can keep evolving and fine-tuning your skills.”
One other lesson that came from our freelance graphic designers is that there is no one tried and true path into the career you love.
Will Mackey, for instance, discovered his interest in art as a 5-year-old. “Then I just kept working at it for years,” he wrote.
But Erin Albright did not really think of herself as an artist, even when she loved designing pages for her high school yearbook. So in the end, she wrote, “I took a windy path and am self-taught/taught by many amazing designers that I’ve worked with along the way.”
The FX of KC is for Freelancers, Contractors, Consultants and whatever else you call yourself. There’s a place for you here! Want to learn more about FX of KC?