What do you wish you’d known when you graduated?
“Being successful is 60% making great things and 40% being a reliable employee and coworker. Graduates need to understand that a gorgeous portfolio may get you in the door, but to move up and be someone people want to work with, you better have a solid work ethic and be a team player. On my team, if you want to be considered a valuable designer you need to make deadlines, have a positive attitude, be willing to learn new things, and help out. In school, it felt like ‘rockstars’ of the office would be the designers coming up with innovative visuals, but in reality the real rockstars are also hard workers and good people. Be the designer everyone knows they can turn to in a crisis.” “It has been many years since I graduated from art school, but unless I overslept that morning, one vitally important lecture was missing – Managing Your Money. I feel that graduates entering the world of work, especially freelance work, need to have a basic understanding of taxation, national insurance and even bookkeeping. Pensions, too, need to be understood at this early stage. It may seem crazy to be thinking of retirement when starting out, but the benefits are too important to ignore. Young creatives need to be aware of these expenses and bear them in mind when invoicing. I see too many struggle to price their work. Having knowledge at the outset may make you wealthier.” “Don’t take on projects at low rates in the hope of getting better-paid projects from that client in the future, especially if you don’t know the company, or anyone who has worked for them before. In my experience, they either won’t come back to you and try to find someone else who is equally cheap, or will just expect you to keep working at that lowered rate every time. Of course, it’s nice to have a constant stream of work and income when you graduate, but at the same time it can make you miss out on bigger and more creative opportunities elsewhere. In short, discounting probably won’t bring in big budget, high-profile projects with that client.”
Magazine and newspaper illustrator cummingsillustrator.com JOE CUMMINGS
Senior art director www.cwest-design.com CHARLOTTE WEST