Jessica Hische – tips on getting freelance work

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Published:  June 3, 2011
Jessica Hische – tips on getting freelance work

Dear Designer McDesignperson,

I am a current senior majoring in design/illustration. I was wondering what I can do to promote myself and get freelance work?… [five paragraphs of life story]… any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

I am asked this question constantly, as are other designers and illustrators that are doing fairly well in the field. Each time, I wish I had a precise and perfect answer to give to the sender, but I don’t – what works for one person does not necessarily work for all people. Having said that, here’s a bit of advice I can give you for how to get work and promote yourself.

Actually meet with art directors. This seems really old school, but it totally works. Again, if you’re a people person, you’ll have more luck with this, but never turn down an opportunity to meet with art directors. Art directors are content curators, even if they don’t have a job for you immediately, they may in the future, and the personal connection is important.

Put portfolios up everywhere online. When art directors are looking for illustrators, they consult portfolio databases along with annuals. Many of these places are free to sign up with, some require a low fee, but no matter what, they will most likely be worth it in the beginning.

Enter competitions. While designers may not immediately benefit freelance-wise from being featured in annuals, illustrators absolutely do. Art directors looking for illustrators definitely check annuals to see who’s who in illustration and find artists for assignments and campaigns.

Look into artist representatives. Reps don’t work for everyone, but some people benefit greatly by having an artist rep. My rep helped teach me about a lot of what’s listed above and put my work in front of a lot of faces within a short frame of time. One thing to keep in mind, though, is you want to work with someone who is there for you and is not just in it to make a buck. They should ultimately help make your life easier rather than harder or more annoying.

Make work. One of the best things you can do for your career is to be productive. If you’re not getting client work, do self-authored personal work. Most young people that are doing anything in the industry right now got there because of a personal project that propelled them into the public consciousness.

Send out promos. They don’t have to be printed, they can be digital, but no matter what, they should be memorable.  From experience, humour forever wins. If you’re not exactly a comedian, make something that will make people think or just make something so glorious and beautiful that they can’t help but show it around.

So there you have it, a relatively short list of the advice I can give you starting out. A number of these things have worked for me, so they may work for you, but as I said earlier though, everyone is different. Use your strengths, be nice to people and in time you’ll come out on top.

Images copyright Jessica Hische.

From desktop magazine.

One Response

  1. Great advice. I’ll direct my students to this. Thank you.

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