Lauren Marie Krause has been an valuable contributor to the comments on my blog and I really like the way she writes. I asked her if she would be interested in writing a guest post and she kindly agreed. I asked her what is was like to be a recently qualified designer, Lauren’s blog post in response follows

Don’t You Make the Same Mistakes!
by Lauren Marie Krause

Profs like to scare you in school with tales of how they almost lost $10,000 on their first design job because the logo colors had 3% too much black in them. Well, unless you first client is Coca-Cola, that’s probably not going to happen.

It’s amazing how much you can learn after being in the full-time working world for only a few months. I studied all aspects of graphic/media design in school from print to photography to illustration to video to 3D to CD-ROM/DVD authoring for three and a half years. I have worked in over a dozen different design programs (most of which I’m now quite rusty in). We learned all about the fundamentals, principals and elements of design. We had projects due every other week. We even learned several programming languages. Sounds like I would be quite prepared to start working, no? Well, no. I didn’t know a lick about the business side of design.

Hopefully your professors have taught you how to sell yourself to a potential client, but what about after that? What things should you include in a contract to keep yourself as covered as possible? What about clients who don’t pay? And even before that question, how do I know what to charge? I asked several different profs this question and not one would give me a straight answer!

Maybe something that just has to be learned the hard way is how to be diplomatic and tactful. You may have a supremely amazing idea, but if you present it as a pushy know-it-all, no one will listen to you and worst yet, the CEO will call you in and tell you to not ever do that again. It’s very embarrassing. Trust me.

So I have several questions, some for experienced designers and one for the newbies:

For the experienced ones in our field

  • What business tips would you like to give the newbies?
  • What did you have to learn the hard way that you would like to spare the rest from having to experience?

Hopefully we will be wise enough to learn from your mistakes.

For the beginners

  • What, if anything, scares you the most about getting out into the real world?

I wonder how many seasoned designers share these same fears with the greener of us.

LaurenLauren graduated in December 2006 from a small design college in Southern California and is now working as a full time and freelance web and graphic designer. She enjoys the creativity she gets to express through her work and is constantly looking for new ideas and inspiration and enjoys seeing the small details in life that most people miss. Some of Lauren’s work can be seen at also please take a look at her blog