TALES OF A FREELANCER: STUDY

I feel like I need to pre-face this blog post with the fact that I wasn't studying accounting or finance, law or medicine or anything like that. These lessons are probably more relatable to creative studies so keep that in mind. Straight after high school I went into a Bachelor of Multimedia Design which taught me so much, but nothing about design. 

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY 1ST DEGREE

~ You will regret signing up to 8am classes, especially if you're not planning on getting home until 3AM the night before said class.

~ Keep your degree in check. First year I didn't really even think about what I was learning or not learning from that particular degree. It wasn't until I was finishing my 2nd year and heading into my third and final year that I thought 'holy shit, you're doing to get a bachelor and have no skills in what you want to do'

~ Look at the classes that are offered in the course you're going into. To be honest if I had of known I would be mostly having to take IT, Programming and advanced Math classes I probably would have gone with a different degree to start with.

~ You can trust no one. Group assignments I am looking at you. 

~ I think this degree really pushed me outside of my comfort zone intellectually. I always felt semi-confident in my abilities in design, business and marketing classes but IT, Programming and Math.... not so much. So many classes were just me or one other girl in a class full of tech guys. It really lit a fire in me that I could do this if I put in enough time to try understand it. I would definitely say that it has contributed now to me knowing that I can do anything because all I have to do is teach myself and take the time to learn. Youtube and Google and self-motivation. 

 
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So as I was about to head into my final year of Multimedia Design, my degree changed and the third year classes (that I had been looking forward to) had changed to more IT bases classes. So a month before uni was due to go back a friend (that was in the same degree) and I applied for another course at another uni. We heard we got in a week before classes started and I started a Bachelor in Design (Visual Communication). Weirdly enough, my degree ended up also changing midway through the course. 

 

 

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY 2ND DEGREE


~ Show people your god damn work. Throughout school and my first degree, I never showed anyone my work. I would work on it so much then hand it in and pretend it never happened. It wasn't until maybe 2nd year of this degree that I actually started to look forward to showing my work for feedback. It was like my whole mind-set on assignments changed. Really when you think about it, design work is so fucking subjective and your tutor is usually the one to be marking it right? So you are going to do better in those classes and on those projects if you ask their opinion and keep revising your project as you go. That way you can fix everything that's wrong with it instead of reading about it on a mark sheet once you've already handed it in. Seems obvious typing it now but I never thought about it like that previously. 

~ Stand up for your work. As much as you should listen to your tutors and their opinion on your work, at the same time you will learn to stand up for your work and what is right for you. In one of my final assessment pieces my tutor couldn't understand what I was doing. There was many conversations how they thought I should do it and at the end of the day I had to just say you know what, that isn't what I am about and that isn't what I am trying to say with this project and I went along with my original plan. Their comment on my marking sheet was something along the lines of that I was right and they now saw what my vision was. I think if you're going to go against the feedback you're given or even when you're presenting your work - do it with conviction. Say why you came to these design decisions and how what you have done communicates that vision. 

 


~ Treat your assignment briefs like they're from clients and you're your own creative studio. Again, this sounds super simple but it didn't really click with me until I started creating more personal work outside of uni. As much as I put a lot of focus on my assignments I never felt like I really made them mine. I didn't try to put my own spin on them and I was just ticking boxes. I think once my mindset shifted everything fell into place. 

~ Stop trying to be so fucking perfect. There were a few tutors that I had that really had a different perspective on design that I hadn't experienced in a teacher before. They wanted something with opinion, something that was done by a human not a computer. Something that wasn't clean and vector. That approach by them definitely made an impact on me and changed my work for the better. 

~ Push the boundaries. You're at university for design, you have almost complete freedom to push projects to weird places without having your client calling you freaking out. 

By the time that I graduated did I know everything I needed to know about becoming a designer? No. but I think you always learn so much more by doing, failing, making mistakes and googling. 

 

ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS

Do you feel like you could have got to where you are now without study / was it worth it?
Terrible answer but yes and no. Skill wise, yes. I don't think I really learnt anything skill wise that I couldn't and didn't teach myself. I think if you are willing to put in the time, practice and research you can learn all you need to. In terms of my direction and mindset, I wouldn't be here without going down that path that I did.

What is better, University or Internships?
I never did an internship because I was already doing freelance at the time but I had a close friend who did internships throughout her degree and I think that was extremely useful and beneficial. Personally doing it all again, I would try get into a design studio just as a student or intern before studying again. I also can't speak from an employer's point of view on this. 

How did you learn lettering or analogue design?
I was completely self taught on that front. When I started hand lettering there wasn't 100s of youtube tutorials or books on it so for me I learnt through practice and experimentation. To be honest, I hate watching someone else do something or reading a how-to so just figuring it out worked well for me. 

Are the technical aspects of design that uni teaches you valuable?
I think it is extremely important to be educated in design as far as basic principles and how to use programs but at the same time you can research and teach yourself all that if you are motivated enough. 


 

 

What didn't your degree(s) teach you?
Where do I start? Taxes, BAS, Licensing Agreements, Client Contracts, How to market yourself, How to charge for your services, How to make money as a designer/artist, What to do if a company infringes your copyright, How to be inspired without imitating, Working out what your voice is as a designer. I think different degrees teach different technical knowledge but I think the above are things they are missing out on. 

Are portfolios important?
100% your work to date is important but I think we could all work on re-shaping our conceived notions of what that might be. You could say that my social media has proven to be my most useful portfolio even. I remember our final assessment at uni was creating a physical portfolio, and instead of making this expensive very formal collection of my work I made an A5 zine of my favourite work to date and even shared what I learnt from each project in the folio. You're constantly creating new work and becoming better so what is the use of having a formal portfolio that only ages once it is created?

At the end of the day, I think it is more important to be self-motivated, hard working, be able to take the initiative to learn things on your own and then ask help/opinions to learn from those around you.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I will reply there. jasmine x

Read previous Tales of a Freelancer on Niches & Pricing.

BEHIND THE COLLECTION: MUSE IS CALLING

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SHOP THE PRINTS

~ Rainy Charm (Available in A3 & A2)

~ Flower Market (Available in A3 & A2)

~ Rose Coloured Glasses (Available in A4 & A3)

 

This collection for me was all about my muses and what really influences my personal work. I am sure if you ask most artists what inspires them, florals and colour wouldn't be the most original or unique answers but to me it is how it influences my work and how to explore those topics differently that I have before. 

I love flowers but I hate most floral photography prints or books. They are always so perfectly lit and perfectly positioned, so foreign from their natural habitat. I like them slightly wet, slightly dying and slightly dirty. So let's chat through the three 'floral' artworks I have included in this collection... Flower Market is so special to me. It was our last full day in Paris and we decided to spend the day aimlessly wandering when we came across a flower market. No word of a lie, I started to cry. The combination of leaving Paris and stumbling across a flower market was super special to me. Rainy Charm to me is the epitome of my favourite way to shoot flowers. Wet and slightly decaying. She is imperfectly perfect. Then we have Poppy Palette, a mixed media print which really symbolises inspiration for me. My poppies were dying and dropping all their petals and I was so obsessed with how they looked, I had to photograph them. Months later I was looking at colour inspiration and came across those photographs to make a colour palette from. 

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Then let's talk about the artworks which held colour as their muse. Orange Tree was not only an extension of the fruit prints released late last year but also influenced by the influx of orange and blush into my space. Sedimentary was really the influence of colour and nature on my work, the way that sedimentary rock is formed and the colours between the layers. Last but certainly not least was the Through Rose Coloured Glasses artwork. This print came about from other's comments about my 'theme' that I stick to. Before others mentioned it I guess I hadn't consciously thought about it. For me I think I just am inspired by colours and start being drawn to anything in that colour scheme. I start noticing buildings, signs, coffee cups.. anything really. At the moment you would say I definitely feel like I am wearing Rose Coloured Glasses. I take this print literally but theoretically it's nice too. 

SHOP THE PRINTS

~ Sedimentary (Available in A3 & A2)

~ Poppy Palette (Available in A3 & A2)

~ Orange Tree (Available in A4 & A3)   

I would love to know what your muses are below in the comment section as well as any favourites from the new collection. As always, these days are my most nerve-racking so your love and support never goes unnoticed.

jasmine x 

LITTLE GREEN DRESS

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WEARING Faithfull the Brand Dress / Karen Walker Harvest Eyewear    SHOT BY Michael John Hughes

I wasn't planning a blog post for this outfit but I had a couple of pictures from the easter long weekend and had so many questions about this dress so I thought why not?! I am so freaking in love with this dress. I kept going to buy it but it was out of stock every time so I signed up for updates and when I got the 'back in stock' notification I added it straight to cart. A day later it was out of stock again. So for those of you who are impatient (which I totally am) and want a dress like this now I have searched online for similar styles in this green. 


SHOP SIMILAR 

Since this dress is always sold out, I have searched the web for similar green sun dresses for you. 


 faithfull the brand dress

faithfull the brand dress

 
 FAITHFULL THE BRAND DRESS

FAITHFULL THE BRAND DRESS

 mink pink dress

mink pink dress

 
 mink pink dress

mink pink dress

 reformation dress

reformation dress

 
 relisation par dress

relisation par dress

 rixo london dress

rixo london dress

 

If you have found one similar, make sure to link it in the comments for others :) 

jasmine x 

TALES OF A FREELANCER: THE NICHE ARGUMENT

 
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It was about time I weigh in on something that always comes up in DM's or Emails from you guys, especially ones just starting out in their chosen field. The argument of niches. Niches are products or services that are created for a particular sub-set of society. On the creator side of things though it could be seen as a comfort zone for you, or a expertise as one particular thing. So then the question posed is, do you specialise in a niche market or will that shut you off from mass market opportunities and which is better?

Let's start by looking at the good old Pros & Cons List...

 

PROS

~ You are able to really focus on your particular craft or market and become an expert at doing so

~ Since you know who your audience is, you are able to directly cater to them instead of casting your net far and wide

~ Because you are constantly producing similar projects, you will have greater knowledge of how long things take and what you can charge.

~ When you become highly skilled in one area, you will become a lot more efficient with your work process therefore have more time to take on more projects. 

~ You are less likely to get lost in the crowd. There are so many graphic designers, photographers, stylists, you're work being unique to you gives you a point of difference. Instead of you approaching clients they will be approaching you for your unique skill. 


CONS

~ You have the possibility to be pigeonholed and miss out on other work opportunities. 

~ What ever your niche is might lose its popularity and you're unique service may be no longer required.

~ If you are constantly being asked to do the same type of work you may end up resenting it due to the lack of creativity it brings you.

~ If successful in your niche, you can open yourself up to copycats that imitate your every move with your audience and your clients.

~ There is such a thing as too niche. If you're not getting any clients or your audience is decreasing / becoming stagnant you may want to re-adjust it. 

 


So what do you do? I think early on I realised I was creating my own niche because I didn't fit solely into any of the other titles
like Typographer, Graphic Designer, Blogger, Photographer etc. Being all of those things got me noticed and approached by clients I still pinch myself about but I also somewhat felt the negative side effects of that. I got a lot of lettering work and started to feel a little like a machine just pumping out pretty words with no meaning, I also still to this day have people imitating every move I make. 

I changed how I think about my 'niche' though. I now think of it as expressing who I am through whatever I want to do. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't take photos of my dead flowers and sell the prints. Just because I was known as a letterer doesn't mean I can't post about fashion or beauty. Does this dissolve my message or niche? No, I think it strengthens it. It is more now about exploring creative projects in my own way, taking the different mediums and making them mine. That is my 'niche'

Before marketing yourself in a niche, think about what is around you in that same sphere. Think about if there is enough of an audience or cliental to support that niche if it is already crowded. You should also be thinking about what do you bring to that niche that the others in that market don't already bring. From a business perspective there is no reason going into a niche and doing exactly what the others already in that niche are doing.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

~ Be consistent with your point of view and messaging. If you are going to explore new mediums make sure that your eye is the constant. This will ensure that no matter what you do, people will know it's yours and you are less likely to lose your audience by doing so.

~ You have to push yourself creatively. If you are happy creating within your niche day in, day out and it important that you make time to work on personal projects that use more of your creativity and let you experiment. 

~ Give your clients what they want and what they didn't know they wanted. 

~ Stop looking at those around you. There is no comparison. 

ON THE BOOKSHELF: NON FICTION

 
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So next up for the book shelf series is my non-fiction section. Working by myself all day everyday means I have a lot of time to think so these books are ones that help me unpack those thoughts. 

It would be great if we could start a conversation in the comments about books that you recommend so that the list gets longer than just mine. 


Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives, Gretchen Rubin

This a book all about habits, why we try make them, why they fail and different methods to keep your habits in check. I found this book rather interesting but I thought there was a bit too much in there about restrictive diets that turned me off a little. Worth the read either way. 


The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
& Status AnXIety, Alain De Botton

Alain De Botton is a philosopher (and one of the creators of School of Life). I find his books really interesting while still being quite an easy read. My favourite so far has got to be Status Anxiety, I think this topic is possibly even more relevant today than it was when the book was written. It's definitely one to get you thinking. 


The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck
Sarah Knight

I bought this before a plane ride nearly two years ago and I think I was done within 3 days which is very unlike me. Since then I have passed it along to both my mum and my aunty to read. It helped identify that in some areas I am really good at not giving a fuck but highlighted for me where I probably care too much. 


40 Days of Dating: An Experiment, Jessica Walsh & Timothy Goodman

This is a book that I read years ago but really enjoyed it. Two graphic designers decide to date each other and diary about it from each of their points of views. It is a nosey person's dream. 


POPULAR, Mitch prinstein

I bought this book last weekend and am currently sitting half way through. Especially being someone who has to take social media somewhat seriously for business I think it is pretty important to stay on top of my thoughts around status and popularity. It is a dark hole that I think if you're not careful you can get sucked into so of late these topics have been super interesting to me. So far the book has discussed the types of popularity, where popularity affects us in adulthood and the problems with popularity. I am finding it interesting so far so I would recommend.

Self Knowledge, The School of Life

If you are interested in philosophy but want it in a modern format - the school of life is for you. They have lots of little books that are super easy to read and useful to get you thinking. 


Little Black Book: A toolkit of working women, Otegha Uqabga

If you are new at working for yourself I would definitely recommend this book. If you have already worked for yourself for a few years you may not find this as useful but it has some great tips if you're just starting out. 


You are as circle: A Visual Meditation for the Creative Mind, Guillaume Wolf

This is not really a sit-down-and-read type of book, it is more something to look through when you have 5 minutes. If you like little poems to flick through you might enjoy this book. 


Notes to Myself, Hugh Prather

I honestly love this tiny old, broken book. We were at a book fair last year going through 1000s of books and I saw a book's subheading read 'My Struggle To Become a Person' - I instantly chuckled to myself and picked it up. They are just notes that Prather had written to himself. This is one of my favourites:

" After I had written this book I told several friends. Their response was polite and mild. Later I was able to tell them the book was published. Almost to a man they used the words " I am proud of you." Proud of the results but not of the action.

Everyone but me looks back on my behaviour in judgement. They can only see my acts coupled with their results. But I act now. and I cannot know the results." 


Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear,
Elizabeth Gilbert

I am obsessed with Elizabeth Gilbert, I have watched nearly every talk she has done that is available online so of course I loved the book. If you have watched everything she has spoken about this book is really just a cemented version of that so it might not be a must-read. It is definitely a great book though if you struggle with your own creativity. 


You Do You, Sarah Knight

To be honest I only just bought this book but I will update this blog post once I have read it. 

 

 

Have you read any of the above?

jasmine x