Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Career Spotlight: Graphic Design

Kelly, a 32 year old with CF, is the founder and designer of her own graphic design studio. Using her artistic talent and technical know-how, she creates print collateral and web sites. Her job responsibilities and projects are multi-faceted, involving research, concept development, and management of freelance designers. By bringing all these elements together, she is able to present her clients with innovative design solutions.

The graphic design industry in today’s marketplace revolves around the computer. Kelly possesses a 4-year degree from an art school. Although she says her degree is certainly helpful, formal art training is not requisite for a career in graphic design. What’s more important than an educational background in the arts, is technical training on specific graphic design software.

Since most graphic design work is contractual or freelance, the work schedule tends to fluctuate. For Kelly, working from home enables her to have a flexible schedule. This is particularly accommodating when she needs to focus more on managing her health. Her clients are happy as long as she meets her project deadlines.

Most of her clients are very understanding of her unique situation. In a perfect world, all of her clients would be that patient. Kelly has learned not to let the “difficult” clients get in her way. Saying “no” to projects that overwhelm her, or letting a client go when they give her grief about being hospitalized are just part of life as CFer in the professional world.

Overall, Kelly enjoys her job. Here are her own words about her favorite aspects of her job:

I'd say: creative freedom, feeling like I'm needed, helping a company build their brand, and learning/ accomplishing goals/projects/new mediums, etc for myself. I feel like with everything I accomplish and progress on in my work, it all benefits my personal growth. I also love that I can cough all day without worrying that others hear me and wondering what they're thinking. I hate that and it stresses me out when I'm in an office setting.

Everything I create has a purpose, and has a life that people see or use. I feel like the energy and time I spend on projects is worth it and some things will be here when I move on. That's nice to know.

Just as with any job, there are downsides. Without an assistant designer to cover her when she’s out sick, Kelly occasionally feels the pressure mount. She says that she would be able to grow more in her field if she could reduce the stress a bit.

One thing that helps reduce her stress is knowing that she has a supportive and understanding boss. Kelly used to work in an office situation, so it was pretty difficult to go unnoticed when she had to be hospitalized.

Kelly’s goals for her future in the graphic design industry include developing reliable support staff. She hopes that adding part-time or full-time assistance would enable her studio to stay afloat when pulmonary exacerbations or other CF related “time outs” cut into her ability to handle a full schedule.

Her advice for those interested in a graphic design career is to “focus as much time on learning the right programs as you do learning business and personal relationship building.” Because so much of her work involves regular interaction with clients, good people skills are a must.

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