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Pro Advice

What I Wish I Knew Then: Freelance Graphic Design

There's a learning curve when it comes to establishing yourself in your chosen industry. You're bound to make a mistake or two, and you'll probably look back at a moment in time or a specific project and say to yourself, "I wish I had done that differently." It's inevitable and it's okay – it happens to the best of us – but in our new "What I Wish I Knew Then" series, we're hoping to help with that a little bit. We've asked grads well established in their fields, "What do you wish you knew about your career that you didn't know when you graduated?"

Our first installment of this new series covers the world of design. We went to a handful of Full Sail Digital Media and Digital Arts & Design grads with successful careers in the design field and got their industry-specific advice for new graduates.

"Don't box yourself in to one industry or design type. In college, I was so sure I was going to strictly be a print designer, but I ended up really loving web and mobile design. The most versatile (and knowledgeable) designers are the ones who have thriving creative careers. Until you've really made a name for yourself, or better yet, your design has made a name for you, be open to whatever creative challenges come your way." – Danielle Portier, Digital Arts & Design 2009, Sr. Graphic/Web Designer at Passages Malibu

"Learn as much as you can from each class. The days of being a single subject matter expert are mostly gone. Employers are looking for something that can do everything you are learning in school. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the jobs that are hiring." – David Kimery, Digital Arts & Design 2007, Visual Information Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

"Don't give your work away for free. It's easy to get stuck in the position of 'helping out' friends and family in an effort to just get your name out there, but it will be hard to get out of that once you've started. Always be fair in your pricing – to your clients AND yourself." – Jessica White, Digital Media 2002, Owner of Doubtless Designs

"Three words: Deliver. Deliver. Deliver. Consistently being able to deliver your projects on time and on budget will gain you a lot more credibility in this business than your artistic/creative ability will. Always fight for creative, but experience comes in knowing which battles to pick and when. If you cannot deliver on your word or your deadlines, word will get around faster than you think." – Gavin Morrissey, Digital Media 2002, Sr. Motion Designer at Critical Mass Chicago

"There is so much! Stay positive and collaborative. Leave any negative attitude outside, never display it to the client. The client, who is paying you, is always right about what they want. With that said, do not get too attached to your work. The client may ask you to do something that is outside of your comfort zone. Do it to the best of your ability. And try to create a good work/life balance. Burnout is very real and easy to achieve if you do not take time off to recharge. Be smart about your skills and your time. Don't promise to deliver "Toy Story" animations in a week just to make a good impression, because if you don't make it, you will damage your chances of rebooking." – Joey Morelli, Digital Media 1998, Sr. Video Editor/Compositor at EA Sports, 2012 Full Sail Hall of Fame Inductee

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