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Are you just a designer?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by speedmedia, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. speedmedia

    speedmedia Very Active Member

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    Hey all,
    Just curious, how many of you are just designers? By that I mean you either design for other shops, customers etc and farm out all of your print work or production?

    Does it work for you? Is it as good as it was 5 years ago? Is anything? lol

    Been tossing around the idea of just becoming a designer again and going back to the basics. To many politics to do it all anymore these days... Would be nice to return to my home office and work from there without walk-ins, equipment to pay for rent... etc.

    Anyone doing this with success?

    Thanks,
    Kurt
     
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  2. Locals Find!

    Locals Find! Very Active Member

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    I have been doing this with success as a Print and Sign Broker for 10 years. Its all about your needs and your ability to market yourself.

    Some on here will put you down for going that route but, for many like me its been a way to make a nice affordable income without all the headaches of dealing with equipment and manufacturing.

    Just my two cents worth.
     
  3. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I've done fairly well doing vector designs and embroidery designs. I've also had people interested in me picking up their website chores as well. There can be a tidy bit of income in it. It just really depends though. There are a lot of people out there trying to do the same thing. Find your niche and target that. I would like to just be able to do design work though and be well off.

    The one thing that has kept me from just doing design work is that there are a lot of people that want to be able to get their design work done and their shirts, or license plates or whatever done with one stop. Something I learned when i was dealing with horse owners. They wanted to be able to board, have the horse trained, and get riding lessons all at the same spot. Which is why I do all that.
     
  4. signmeup

    signmeup Major Contributor

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    No, I'm not just a designer.......... I can actually make things too. :Big Laugh
     
  5. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

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    I could never make it as a designer only. I have to do it all to feed the monster. Besides, I lack the educational credentials to command the price you should get to do design only.
     
  6. GypsyGraphics

    GypsyGraphics Major Contributor

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    maybe 80% designer 20% signmaker/installer
    i'd be much happier if i could get to 50/50
    don't imagine i'll ever want to go back to 100% designer

    i was feeling almost recession-proof a year and a half ago, had all the design business i could handle, worked nearly every weekend just to keep up. even if i could get back to that much design work... i'm not sure i'd want to. i was so close to totally burn-out that the drop in business was almost a relief.

    i think if i wanted to, i could be almost as busy again, if i was willing to lower my prices to accommodate more peoples budgets.... but i haven't and i won't.... not by one dime.

    however... if what you WANT to do is 100% design work then maybe you should consider it.

    I NEVER DO ANYTHING I DON'T WANT TO DO
    i did that in the old days... paid my dues
    now, i rather spend my day chasing a ball of yarn and not make a dime than take on work that i don't like.

    i think the choice should be easy...
    either do what you like or do what makes money, and if it happens to be one in the same... you've reached nirvana!
     
  7. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Many are known as 'Freelancers' and can make a pretty good buck if you're good.

    When one of these people do the work for one of our customers, we generally get things the correct way, instead of some in-house schmuck that can't figure out the difference between raster and vector.

    Be sure you're still getting your money upfront and explain how whether or not they like your product, you still need to get paid. That's why it's so important to really have some well honed skills.
     
  8. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    I am 100% design. Mostly freelance.

    I just recently posted about my frustration of working alone.

    I think if your specializing in regular mom and pop sign shop work, then that type of designer are a dime a dozen. Even if you are very very good, you have people going as low as 15 - 20 bucks a design.... very hard to compete with shops who only pay their in-house designer 10-15 bucks an hour.

    I do a lot of crap work... mostly code/architectural. My sweet work is environments and themed graphics, there is work, but it goes very slow, some jobs lasting years and it takes a while to get those connections.... it would help if you worked at an EGD firm, an architectural sign shop and a mom and pop.

    I have no degree, but I do have connections because of where I have worked.

    I don't get paid upfront, it's usually fortnightly or monthly. There are a few freelance and design business books that are very helpful. And you should be thinking of contracts and networking with fellow designers.
     
  9. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

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    I was waiting for Ricks sage advice to show up on this topic. He would be the guy that knows the design biz...
     
  10. prototype66

    prototype66 Member

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    Same here!
     
  11. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

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    5 years of Graphic Design print design and business double major in university.
    Ever since i bought this sign shop i barely design.. i just quote quote quote quote, and manage, and quote some more, and then after that i quote. I have other designers that do that stuff for me :D. But when needed i do it all.. install/manage/quote/design.
     
  12. Seven Sin Design

    Seven Sin Design Member

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    100% Design here as well. Since 2006. Times are a bit tougher these days, but I still manage to stay very busy.
     
  13. neato

    neato Very Active Member

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    100% Freelance here. It's not the easiest way to make a living, but it works. For me, design is the most fun part of sign work. So it's a great niche. I'm fortunate enough to have a really great group of customers to work with.

    Pricing yourself to be competitive and still make a living is tough though. I'd love to have all the high end work that Rick gets. But the reality is, the majority of my work is basic sign and vehicle layout. It's still fun, but the big money is in the stuff Rick does. Just ask him, the guy is loaded!

    And yes, the economy has affected this industry. There is less work than there was even 2 years ago.
     
  14. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    A book I heavily recommend is

    "Talent is not Enough" by Shel Perkins

    http://www.amazon.com/Talent-Not-En...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288833883&sr=8-1

    2 more are....

    "Freelance Design in Practice" by Cathy Fishel

    http://www.amazon.com/Freelance-Design-Practice-Cathy-Fishel/dp/1600613020/ref=pd_sim_b_53

    "100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers: Insider Secrets for Working Smart & Staying Creative" by Steve Gordon

    http://www.amazon.com/100-Habits-Successful-Freelance-Designers/dp/1592535127/ref=pd_sim_b_2

    2 books about people going on their own or starting a design firm are very good reads... pretty much lots of credit card usage, borrowing, mistakes, more mistakes and friends/networking, It helps me break these open once in a while.....(one is obviously very expensive since it is out of print, but it's one of my favorites...)

    House Industries by House Industries

    http://www.amazon.com/House-Industr...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288834138&sr=1-1

    "karlssonwilker inc.'s tellmewhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company" by
    Clare Jacobson, Jan Wilker And Hjalti Karlsson, Stefan Sagmeister

    http://www.amazon.com/karlssonwilke...=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288834430&sr=1-1
     
  15. speedmedia

    speedmedia Very Active Member

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    My background is originally in design. After I got done with school I picked up a job working at a sign/airbrush shop and learned the vinyl trade etc... That was 11 years ago. Once I started working with vehicle graphics and wraps I was hooked. It is what I love to do. I also like messing with logo design and the like. Right now as it stands I have a shop, printers, cutters laminators etc... Basically a full blown large format / wrap shop in one of the states with the worst economy in the US that does nothing for small business but tax us non stop.

    After some thought I was really thinking how nice it would be to get back to the basics and just go back to being a designer. Now working at an agency or the like would be great, but around here jobs are sparse and if they are available you can't eat with the wages they pay.

    I thought maybe going back to a freelance designer that maybe specializes in wraps, vehicle graphics and the motorsports industry (These are what I feel like are my strongest points.) would be sort of nice. Get the home office set back up and just leave all of the other BS behind. I think I am part burned out, part disappointed in the direction that this industry has gone it. I bust my *** to put out good work only to be undercut by hacks that don't. It just gets old.

    I am not sold on it yet just thinking about it. Sure would be nice to get back to the basics and maybe design for others and project manage these projects with people in the industry that I trust instead of trying to do it all.

    Make any sense??? Do I just sound like a lunatic? I love to design but lately all I can think about is going on vacation...

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, good thread, looking forward to more thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Kurt
     
  16. Sign Up Graphics

    Sign Up Graphics Very Active Member

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    Sign Up Graphics

    I do all designer, signmaker, installer :thumb:
     
  17. speedmedia

    speedmedia Very Active Member

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    Morning bump, anyone else?

    Thanks,
    Kurt
     
  18. bayshorecreations

    bayshorecreations Very Active Member

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    Well I was... I worked for commercial offset printers for 20 years as a designer before getting into signs. I opened up as a sign shop 5 years ago, lost my job as a graphic artist about 3 years ago and jumped head first into signs full time.
    Now I do everything since I am a one man show. I enjoy doing it all actually, now I not only get to design the work but I also get the satisfaction of creating the final product also.
     
  19. Dan Antonelli

    Dan Antonelli Very Active Member

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    100% design only. Last piece of vinyl I personally touched was maybe 7 years ago, or so?

    And the last pinstriping brush I wielded was probably over a decade ago. I miss that, truth be told. I was actually a half decent striper, while not quite as good of a handletterer.
     
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