Freelancer Focus is a regular feature, where freelance designers are invited to answer a series of questions about themselves and freelancing. This week Mark Gonyea (pictured left) is the freelance designer in question. If you would like to take part please read my previous post. Any designer or illustrator can also take part in Design Case Studies.
2.Where are you are based (Country/Area)?
The state of Vermont, USA
3.What type of work do you do? (design for print, web, multimedia etc)
Early on I was mostly doing website design and catalogs. Now I do brand identity and publishing. I’ve also had two books about graphic design published by Henry Holt Books, “A Book About Design; Complicated Doesn’t Make it Good” and the sequel, “Another Book About Design”.
4.How many years had you been working in the design industry before you went freelance?
5.How long have you been freelancing?
6.Why did you decide to go freelance?
Since I was fortunate enough to have a couple books published about graphic design, that gave me the incentive to go full time as a freelancer and give myself the time I needed to work on my own projects as well.
7.How did you market yourself (find design work/new clients) in the beginning – (online portfolio/brochure/direct mail/email/phone etc)?
In the beginning it was mostly word of mouth and my own website portfolio. Local artist meet-ups are always a good place to network.
8.How do you market yourself (find design work) now?
Now I attend 4 or 5 art/comic conventions a year and usual come away from those with many new contacts. I have two or three steady clients that provide most of the freelancing I do. That saves them the expense of hiring a full time graphic artist and saves me the hassle of constantly searching for new work. At the present time I’m sending out portfolios of posters to find potential licensing partners for my art.
9.How did you decide what to charge? What was the process?
There is definitely a range that locals are or are not willing to pay. I’ve managed to find a happy medium. In the beginning I would do quotes for an entire job but I’ve moved to an hourly price scale out of necessity. I find that people are far more willing to compromise if changes are going to cost them more.
10.Do you work from home/have an office/work inhouse at design agencies?
I work at home out of a studio.
11.How do you organize your workload, do you work long hours?
I only work on freelancing jobs about 20 hours a week, usually from 12-4 in the afternoon, but that’s serious work time, no phones, no email unless it pertains to what I’m working on. The rest of my time is spent on personal projects and cartooning.
12.How much holiday do you give yourself?
Probably too much but it’s important to me to recharge my creative batteries whenever possible.
13.How do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
I guess I don’t really. I try to keep up to date with programs though.
15.How do you generate ideas/what techniques do you use to stimulate creativity?
Doodle, doodle, doodle. I’ve always got 2 or 3 sketchbooks laying around my condo for those moments when an idea hits. And for some reason, driving really cleans my mind out and allows random thoughts to pop up.
16.What about the business side of things, accounting, invoicing, bookkeeping, how do you manage it?
Can’t stand it really but it’s a necessary evil I guess. I should really have someone else do it because I’m so bad at it. I find I have to stay extremely organized because it can spiral out of control very easily. I have an entire bulletin board wall that I use for current projects, finished projects that need to be invoiced, finished projects that have been invoiced but not received yet and all work related contacts, travel plans and important dates up to a year in advance. Even with all that it’s easy to loose track of things.
17.What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone starting out freelancing?
Keep receipts for EVERYTHING and have a professional do your taxes.
Have six months of expenses in the bank before you quit your day job.
It’s nice to have an opinion but not a massive ego.
18.Would you ever go back to fulltime work?
Probably not unless I had to. I love the idea of working together with other artists for inspiration and bouncing ideas off one another but I’m not sure I can go back to having someone else tell me what to do.
19.Any thing else you would like to add?
Did I mention I have two books out about graphic design?
20.Where can we see some of your work (URL)?