I used to work in an office as an in-house designer.
I worked for 5 years in a company that didn’t appreciate me, understand me, acknowledge my expertise, ask for my opinion, give me feedback or tell me when I was doing a good job. One year they even forgot my birthday. I’m not talking about a Graphic Design studio, I’m talking about your average business. A lot of people are fine with this, but it wasn’t for me. I worked with sales staff, admin, warehouse, manufacturing and all kinds of people – including a lot of office drama and politics. I was the only creative staff member, the only one with a mac, the only one wearing thonges, the only one playing music.
When you’re in an office and uninspired, it’s hard to focus. You can’t just go for a walk, take time out or sit in the sun for a minute. I found that most staff members didn’t actually understand what I did all day. I was happy, but I didn’t belong.
As a Freelance Graphic Designer, I have found a pretty good work/life balance:
While I spend a lot of time alone (designing for my own clients), I also have time to spend working on myself, going to networking events and art galleries. I learn and explore new techniques and skills often a little outside of design and into art and craft, I work on personal and developmental design projects, I read a lot of blogs, spend time on social media and admire great typography. I spend a bit of time meeting fellow designers in noisy and creative cafes.
To switch things up and to get some more human interaction, I like to freelance in design and advertising agencies, as well as work in-house in a creative team in companies. This allows me to learn from other designers, bounce ideas back and forth of another person, see the different ways that different studios are set up and run, find out nifty adobe keyboard shortcuts and experience the vibrancy of both small and large studios. It’s nice to be around other creatives and in team environments, and I have found that I can really thrive with the right people around me. There are so many great Graphic Design studios in Melbourne, and I would love to spend a day in each and every one of them.
If I need or want to run errands during the day, I can. I go out for lunch, do my grocery shopping, all kinds of things. (And then work into the night when need be).
I have only just made the switch from full time employment to freelancing this year, so by all means I am still growing, but I have the opportunity to make it a point to do all my work with passion, with a great and personal level with my clients.
(By the way, I’m not saying there is anything wrong at all with working full time. I’m sure I will do it again in the future for security, but only for a great design studio).
While it’s still new and scary, I’m having a ball with freelancing and hope that my business continues to grow and blossom!