Although the following skills have very little to do with understanding typography, layout, colors, or the graphic design software du jour, they have everything to do with succeeding. Freelance Graphic Designers who add these skills to their palette can expect to attract more opportunities.
4 Essential Skills for Freelance Graphic Designers
- Unbridled Creativity on a Short Leash
Rozina Vavetsi, who teaches graphic design at the New York Institute of Technology, explains, “Most of my students are the artsy type. They're driven by an urge to be creative … But I also know that few of them will be able to make a living based solely on unbridled creativity.” The successful Graphic Designer must balance crackling creativity with the ability to craft designs that powerfully communicate the messages their clients want to convey – even if that means toning down their signature style to accomplish that goal.
- Technical Skills and Pencils
American Institute of Graphic Arts author, lecturer, and designer David Sherwin recently asked Creative Directors to list skills that set their favorite freelance Graphic Designers apart from the rest. Interestingly, many of them prized the ability to set technology aside and sketch ideas with paper and pencil or whiteboard. Every Graphic Designer job listing demands proficiency with the latest graphic design software, but Creative Directors noted that brainstorming ideas was more liberating away from the confines of computers. Both skills are necessary, of course; once the brainstorming has culminated in an idea everyone likes, the technology makes it breathe.
- Business and People Skills
The ability to communicate verbally, collaborate with people across an organization, meet deadlines, and take criticism on the chin with a grin are skills that will keep your clients coming back for more. The latter skill is probably the most painful one to develop, especially for color-me-creative newbies. But learning to subdue the ego to serve the design that propels a precise message to its intended audience is priceless.
- Grace Under Pressure
Screaming deadlines, nebulous expectations and executives who want you to fly to Jupiter on a raft of paper clips yesterday are frustrating, but common. Yet these are exactly the times that can force you to birth creativity in ways you never expected. Staying calm and focused in these situations takes practice, but the stories and portfolio pieces born of those experiences may just inspire potential clients to choose you over the competition.
Mix these four skills with innate aesthetic talent, creativity and a good graphic design education and you have the recipe for success. Ready to get going? Check out our open Graphic Designer jobs or submit your resume here.
***Editor's Note: This post has been revamped from its original version and freshened up for accuracy, timeliness, and to help you get that job.