Design at a Corporation.
Seven years ago I began my career as a graphic designer. Mostly, it's been easy. Certainly there have been challenges, but with every struggle I've endured, I've also experienced great comforts; comforts like, a steady salary, paid international R&D trips, a 401K etc. All are perks that are provided by major public companies.
I was lucky to glean from these experiences. And after seven years, I was ready for a change.
Four months ago I left my full-time position with Nike. I was there three and a half years. I designed graphics that were applied to hats, tees, boardshorts and fleece.
Nike, if you don't already know, is an incredible company. From the product to the personnel, I truly loved my time there. While I look back on my experience with nothing but gratitude, it was time to spread my wings.
There are a few reasons I left, some logistical (ie. Nike wanted me to relocate to Portland), but the primary reason I left my oh-so cushy job was simple: I wanted to design everything.
I realized that the designers I look up to have been successful in a multitude of mediums. Frankly, as a mid-ranking designer at a large corporation it would be near-impossible to design more than two categories of products at a time.
While I might not have the steady salary, nor any of the perks (free shoes), I am learning what it's like to run my own business. I am shaping my own destiny.
Stepping out on faith.
It hasn't been easy. When I made the decision I had literally zero freelance prospects. In fact, early on I was having panic attacks. My wife was constantly having to reaffirm me and what I do (God-bless that woman).
Where would money come from? What if my clients hate my work? Will I be missing out on a more promising career at Nike? Why was Breaking Bad ending?!
My first week of business development turned up very little work and I was starting to freak-out even more.
Hit the ground running.
That very next week I found work. Actually, I found a lot of work.
I landed some package design work. I snagged some logo design. And I had an illustration project for a beverage company. And since then, I've been working steadily.
What I've learned.
This experience has taught me a lot. Clients don't always pay on time, staying organized is tough, there is no such thing as "work hours" and I rarely know what projects I'll have two weeks in advance.
But the primary thing I've learned is this: It's possible to make it on your own.
There are certainly challenges, but I'm growing as a designer, a communicator, and as a human.
I don't know what this year will look like. I don't know how much money I'll make. I don't know who my clients will be. I don't even know the difference between Adobe CC and Adobe CS6 (Seriously, if there's a difference let me know).
But I know this: I will work my ass off.