today’s question is: “how do you recommend getting interesting work?”

if people aren’t knocking at your door to work on cool projects then do it on your own! don’t wait for someone to come to you. creating art and working on projects for yourself is so important. you could even take it as far as designing something for the company/people you want to work with. working like that might make you think differently, sparking something you never thought of before. adding those “cool” projects shows what you’re capable of. If it’s not there the people you want to work with might not think you can do it. Don’t be afraid to approach the people you want to collaborate with. explain to them why you think you two could make a great team. seduce them (creatively) into working with you.

i remember there was a little shop that i loved, but i thought the logo was pretty awful. one night i was just messing around and decided to recreate this store’s look for fun. i had already envisioned it in my head, so it ended up being pretty quick and easy. i sent the company an email, and in it i had mocked up the logo on shopping bags, and even made it look like the sign outside the store had changed. the store owner loved what i had done and actually paid to use the logo! i was shocked & so excited. it turns out she had wanted new branding anyways, so this saved her some time looking. sometimes you just have to go for it! if you reach out to a company you want to work with, do your best to be creative and stand out from the crowd. learn about their brand and think about what they would like to see.

i also think it’s very important to show people what you are working on. for instance, if i just finish a blog design or logo (i just did this one!) then i usually do a post about it. i want to let people know the kind of work i am currently doing and the kind of work i am looking for. a little shameless promotion never hurt anyone. and for the most part, people love to see the things you got goin on behind the scenes, so tell em about it. if you do this, companies will know you are taking on new work!

(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are here. if you have a question you want answered, just leave us a comment in the box with it!)


Add your own

    LeAnn says:

    i’m no freelance artist, but i read your advice column religiously! all these questions/answers are so helpful to me, even as a business girl.

    i have a question that can relate to artists and entrepreneurs alike: how do you know when to outsource a project or ask for help? i’m sure you’ve been approached by a client that asks for a little more than you can handle, and as much as you’d like to get the job done all by yourself…sometimes that’s just not feasible with all the other things you’ve got going on.

    what do you do? ask for a little help from friends/professionals with similar aesthetic or decline the project in total?

    thanks again for starting this column, bri and katie! i admire all your work and even more-so for helping others who may be traveling down the same path 🙂

    yvonne says:

    I just started freelancing myself this year. And I love your advice column. I learn something new. It can be so isolating working from home, its always inspiring to hear others are dealing with or have dealt with the same issues as me.

    Thanks Bri and Katie!!!!

    Whitney says:

    I completely and totally agree with what y’all are saying, but I couldn’t disagree more with that graphic! As someone who struggles with anxiety and feelings of worthlessness that saying basically pushes the idea that if you’re not sparking anyone’s interest then you’re not interesting enough. A pretty foul statement, at least from my point of view.

    gloria waters says:

    i always have trouble showing my “behind the scenes” work. how do you deal with being uncomfortable showing unfinished work? i’m totally that weird chic with her nose in her laptop, or sketchbook, and if someone looks over my shoulder i’m like, “NOOOOOO ITS NOT FINISHED YET!”. its a bad habit!

    bri says:

    ha gloria! i hate showing unfinished work too, believe me! people always try to look over my shoulder and i get so embarrassed!

    bri says:

    oh no whitney, it was definitely not meant to be negative or make you feel that way. it was only intended to inspire us all to think creatively!

    Inslee says:

    Hi Bri and Katie! I would love to know if you have any input on this issue: how to deal with clients who want you to create a product for them to sell. I have people reach out to me all the time asking for illustrations that they want to then put on t-shirts or bags etc to sell. I have been hesitant to say yes 1. because of quality control and 2. because I don’t know how to price my work for this. Should I charge more knowing that they will directly profit from my design? Should I ask for royalties?

    Nina says:

    The thing I find hardest about sharing about my projects is that I’m not allowed to spill the beans until it goes live, which is normally weeks later, at which point I’m already onto something else!
    And maybe a bit bored or “over” that project now…

    Alison says:

    This is such great advice! It’s so easy to sit and wait for someone to come to you, but there’s definitely something to be said for being proactive and going after what you want! Definitely a nice reminder 🙂 Also, I was in your (Bri) breakout session at Lucky FABB and found it so helpful! All of your advice was super practical…as in, how did I not think of that before haha! It was definitely a highlight for me…so thanks 🙂

    XO, Alison

    s says:

    i love this post, i’m a huge proponent of doing side-projects, they can lead to unexpected and wonderful opportunities.

    Sarolta says:

    I love the idea of just doing design for a company you want to work with. Thanks for that. And I also have a question: I am still at school. Should I work for a company before going freelance or are some interships enough? I am looking forward to your opinion!

    Casey Lynn says:

    I have a question… What do you do when a clients calls you and says I need this in a week? Do you always stick to your deadlines and to the contract or just pull the late hours and get it done when the client decides that need it? Also is there a time you give to clients like “I need at least two weeks to get a project done.”

    Thea says:

    Thanks so much for these advice posts, I’m newly out of design school and looking to start freelancing and I am so grateful for all your honest words. Keep them coming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.