Starting Your Career as a Graphic Designer

Starting Your Career as a Graphic Designer

by Michael Fleishman


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The ultimate source for beginning professionals, working professionals looking to make a change, and entrepreneurs wanting to go out on their own, this friendly guide details every business aspect of commercial graphic design, including how to:

• Create a portfolio • Make initial contacts • Develop a financial plan • Set up an office • Acquire supplies and equipment • Price your own work • Market on the Web • Nurture a growing freelance business • And much more

In a market-by-market survey, the author devotes entire chapters to selling one’s work within every venue, including magazines, ad agencies, book publishers, greeting card companies, small business, and Web sites. This is the most useful book on the market for honing the business skills of freelance illustrators and graphic designers.

Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, publishes a broad range of books on the visual and performing arts, with emphasis on the business of art. Our titles cover subjects such as graphic design, theater, branding, fine art, photography, interior design, writing, acting, film, how to start careers, business and legal forms, business practices, and more. While we don't aspire to publish a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are deeply committed to quality books that help creative professionals succeed and thrive. We often publish in areas overlooked by other publishers and welcome the author whose expertise can help our audience of readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621533986
Publisher: Allworth
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Series: Starting Your Career
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Michael Fleishman is a freelance illustrator, graphic artist, and teacher of the commercial arts with over twenty-five years of experience. President of the at-large chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild, he is also a contributor to several trade publications for graphic designers and artists. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with his wife and two sons.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xii

Section I Starting Out 1

Chapter 1 So You want to be a Designer? 3

By Definition

Intended Meaning


Freelance or Independent?

On the Job or On-Call?

Chain Gang, Slave Mine, and Sweatshop

Stands Out a Mile

The Game Plan

Chapter 2 Education 21

An Education

Going Up…

Learning the Ropes

School Rules

Teach Me

Carry On

The Long Haul

A Real Education

Hire Ed


Learning Curve

Learning in Practice

A Business Education

Chapter 3 Opportunities 41

What Is a Designer?

What Does It Take to Be a Designer?

Starting Your Career

Inventors and Entrepreneurs

The More the Merrier

No Competition

Finding the Right Markets

Location, Location, Location

New Kid in Town

Talk Is Kinda Cheap

Working with New Business


Pro Bono


Chapter 4 Off On the Right Foot 63

Dress for Success

The Chase is On

The Right Stuff

Making The Break

Do I Have What It Takes?

Is the Opportunity to Succeed There?

Where Are Your Potential Clients?

Research, Research, and More Research

Your Current Clients

Love What You Do…

Brand Me

Chapter 5 Finances 79

Get It Down

Accounting for That

The Yearn to Earn

The Business Plan

Getting the Money You Need

A Loan Against the World

Beyond the Bank: Other Loan Options

Meaningful Relationships

Loans, Credit, Banks, Lawyers

Chapter 6 Setting Up Shop 99

Office Space


Decide Where You Will Work

Working at Home

Virtually an Office

Hey, I'm on the Phone!

Kibitz and Bits

Computers "Buy" and Large



Trading Up

Chips Off the Of Block

Software and Tear

Buy the Buy

Choose Your Supplies and Equipment

Chapter 7 Managing Your Business 125

Managing Your Work

Managing Your Money

Your IRS Obligations

When I'm Sixty-Four (or Twenty-Five)


Putting Money Back into Your Studio

Devil's Advocate

Signed, Sealed…

Section II To Market 151

Chapter 8 Finding Clients 153

Match Game

Business in Mind

Get a Job

Balancing Act

Business Chops

All Atwitter About Social Media

Nature or Nurture?


Promote Yourself

Old School

Keeping the Clients You Get

Chapter 9 The Portfolio 173

About the Portfolio

The Real Deal

Assembling the Portfolio

A Unified Front-And Back

Targeting a Portfolio (Tailoring to Your Audience)

Labeling Portfolio Pieces

Creating Opportunities

Presenting Yourself

Take a Meeting

Drop-Off Policy

It's in the Mail?

Chapter 10 On the Web 187

Deal Direct

Call and Response

"Code" It Be Magic?

Digital Home School

Coding a Back to the Future

The Online Portfolio

Like Rolling Off a Blog: The Right Stuff

Be the CEO of Your SEO

A Host of Decisions

Building Your Blog

Sell it, Baby!

The Now

For Web Designers


Chapter 11 Design in Sequence 213

Art in Sequence

Funny Business

The Biz

Graphic Novels

Chapter 12 Magazines, Newspapers, Books 221

Is Print Dead?



The Look…

What Magazines Need

Researching the Market

The Approach

Starting Block

The News

Saving Trees

Inside Story

Skills for Newspapers

Send It to Me

By the Book

Eeeeee, Books!

Please Allow Me to Introduce Mysel

Whom to Contact

Booked Solid

Jobs for Designers

Chapter 13 Working With Ad Agencies 239

Is Ad All There Is?

Apply Within

Do Tell

Break In

Appropriate Samples

Local Talent

Organizations and Reading

Chapter 14 The Greeting Card Market 249


The Company You Keep

How Many Types of Cards Are There?

Card Alternatives

Suitable Art

Many Happy Returns-Researching Cards

Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

Rights (and Wrongs)

Easy as Pie


Commissioned Designs

The Back Door

Using Freelance Help

Card Formats

Other Paper Products

The World from Your Own Back Yard

Independence Day

Chapter 15 Selling to Small Businesses 267

Right at Home

What Type of Freelance Help Do Small Businesses Need?

Up the Block



Awww, Go Direct Yourself

Locals Preferred

Printers? Yes, Printers

Careful Does It

Chapter 16 Working With Design Studios 279

You Are Who You Are

What a Concept!

Designer Labels

Local Talent

Best Introduction

'Round and 'Round

Directories Organizations, and Magazines

Section III Achieving Success 287

Chapter 17 Pricing 289

Pricing Factors

The Price Is Right?

Rate Hikes


Based on What?

Standards and…

Creative Freelancing/ Contracting

A Bonny Rate

Chapter 18 Teaching 299


Joy and Effect

Marks, Brother Stay the Course

Wax On

Life in the Class Lane

What Are You Teaching?

The Test Lab

Works for Me

The Front Lines

Chapter 19 It Happens 313


It's Personal

Organ Recital

Wear and Tear



Sister Act

Damage Control

Embrace Failure Learn From It.

Fail to Fail

Flight or Fight


A Good Fit

Stay with the Program

Chapter 20 On Your Way 329

Complaint Department

Alternative Realities

Square Peg/Round Hole

Keep Your Avant-Garde Up


Great Talent/Big Heart

The Neighborhood

Wrapping Up

Chapter 21 Forms, Charts, Templates 341

Index 357

Customer Reviews