Making the freelance leap
Being at The Guild allowed me to see how freelancers work, develop and become successful, which inspired me to take my own step into the freelance world – and I now work as my own studio, Volley Design. When I was setting up I came across the Network for Creative Enterprise – a creative and cultural scheme to help new businesses – which provides bursaries, mentoring and workshops. Without this scheme and my mentor Charlotte Godfrey (NCFE hub producer for The Guild), Volley Design would not have been able to get off the ground and get to where it is today.
Playing digital catch-up
Along the way I’ve learnt some basic code, design for web, video-editing skills, stop-motion graphics and how to operate tools like Mailchimp. I’m still improving, and you can find some amazing tutorials online and books to teach you almost anything if you give it the time. While at University I don’t think I fully appreciated how important digital design was. Integrating elements such as animation or even a GIF is so popular. Clients might want that extra bit in the design project to make it stand out. If I was to do anything differently while studying, I would have persisted with these things.
Another thing I would have improved is speaking more confidently about my work. Leaving university I didn’t have much confidence in what I had made, and this shows when you have interviews because you won’t be passionate. I think this was due to looking at other designers and wondering why I wasn’t as good as them. But you should just focus on your own work, make sure it’s the best it can be, and meets the client’s needs.
Be yourself and design in your own way – not the way someone else might design something. I think you need to know what you can offer, what makes you stand out, what will make someone want to work with you. Take all opportunities and run with them; you never know where they will lead.
See James’ work at volleydesign.com.