How I Became a Freelance Graphic Designer

Dan Amorsolo: How I Became a Freelance Graphic Designer

Working with clients around the globe, Dan enjoys corporate and freelance work at the same time. His specializations are in digital illustration, photo manipulation, and corporate branding, but his most evident passion is in the art of vector graphics. For the last five years, Dan has received awards participating in international creative competitions. His works have been featured in various local and international publications and websites as well.

How was your University time?

Well, actually, it’s a long story. Before graduating from high school, I really wanted to take a degree in fine arts in college, but my parents did not allow me. They are both artists, just like some of my relatives, and they wanted me to take up something else instead. I was baffled about what degree I should take in college until I decided to enroll in a flying school to become a pilot. At first, I was really into it, but after a few semesters, I just lost interest, so I decided to shift to another degree program and another. It took me four college programs before I decided to follow what I really want – to pursue an art-related degree. So, I ended up taking Multimedia Arts. I really enjoyed it, and I always got excited every day to go to school and learn new things.

Why did you choose a career in this field?

I grew up in a house where you can actually see canvases, paintbrushes, and oil paints scattered everywhere. I was introduced to art at a very young age, so it became a hobby, and that’s why I wanted to pursue a career in the creative field. After finishing school, I really wanted to become a web designer, but I’m too lazy to code. What I really want is to design and not to code. That’s when I decided to become a graphic designer. I really love to create and design, and it’s something that I can’t wait to do when I wake up and something that I can’t get out of my head before going to bed.

What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you get to where you are today?

Even before finishing up school, I used to create web pages and collateral designs for referred clients. I also accepted commissions from students in creating their design and drafting projects. When I was in my sophomore year as a multimedia arts student, I’d work in the morning as a call center agent and go to class at night. I also worked as a house painter between semesters, where I used to paint commercial and residential properties to earn a few extra bucks. When I finished school, I searched and applied for web designer jobs, but only a few companies are hiring web designers back then. What was in demand at that time in the creative field were graphic designers, so I decided to apply for a graphic designer job. Landing my first graphic design job was really a dream for me until I experienced the fast-paced environment of the corporate world. I’m not used to the pressure and being hurried in doing my creative work because, for me, creativity requires time, and It should not be rushed. So, I decided to do my own thing, which is to go freelance. It was really hard at first, but as I gain experience and learn the ins and outs of doing freelance work, I thanked myself that I made the right decision. Those past jobs that I had really helped me prepare myself for what I’m doing right now. I’m not saying that I’m closing my doors for corporate work, I’m always open to new opportunities, but all I want is to have total freedom and control in creating client work and personal projects at the same time.

Can you provide some book recommendations?

I have two book recommendations.
The first book is, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I’ve read the book once and listened to the audiobook a couple of times. The book doesn’t literally talk about making money. What it talks about instead is the mindset, the philosophy, and principles of wealth creation. It’s basically a guide to living a better life.

My second book recommendation would be, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. The book discusses that nothing is original, and we should learn how to embrace influence. It also talks about schooling ourselves through others’ work, remix, and reimagine to discover our own path.

Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated.

I always take advantage of online media to stay updated. There’s a lot of design resources online. I follow great artists and designers online to see their works. I also read design blogs and browse online design galleries and portfolios to keep up with the trends.

Any advice about CVs?

Just keep it simple and be straight to the point. A strong one-page CV is enough. Just don’t over-design it. For designers, the portfolio should speak for yourself. Nowadays, CVs should be at least ATS compliant. It must pass muster with what is known as an applicant tracking system (ATS) before it reaches a live person. It is software that scans an applicant’s CV content for specific keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter.

Advice for someone looking for a job?

Always update your portfolio and focus on your design strengths. A few selected projects that you can showcase for a specific job application will help a lot. Having a good network of individuals who are in the biz would be of such good help too.

Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.

It’s a bit frustrating and heartbreaking if you couldn’t get the job you want, but I don’t take it seriously. I always tell myself that if I don’t get what I want today, I’ll get a better one someday. It motivates me to improve my craft and be persistent in life.

Also read How I Built My Career In Graphics Design & Customer Experience Management

How I Became a Freelance Graphic Designer

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