• о what if your design and lettering are the world's best, if you lack the skills
to sell them. On the other hand, even if your lettering is the world's worst, if you
have dynamite selling skills, you'll succeed over the better technician. We've
shown you how to draw logos, fonts and lettering. Here's how to sell 'em.
Getting freelance work as a beginner
can be tough. As with anything you do,
keep trying! I suggest finding a friend or
relative who has a busi¬
ness of any kind and offer¬
ing your services—free, if
need be—to build up your
portfolio with real, not
hypothetical design school
assignments. The experience of working
with real clients is different than doing
class assignments. Often the classwork
is resented—precisely because it isn't
real—and rushed just to get a grade. But
as you will no doubt find, paying assign¬
ments are no different than school ones
in the sense that you will often have to
put your heart and soul into a project
you have absolutely no interest in.
Recognize this fact when doing class-
work—exult in each new challenge, and
adopt a professional attitude now!
Advertising our wares, in one way or
another, is still the only way to get work.
Michael Schwab once said to me, "The
job of the designer, when no other job is
available, should be the job of self-pro¬
motion." There are passive and proactive
approaches to this. A combination of
both will be helpful.
•Design a web site to showcase your
portfolio. Include meta tags that carry
descriptive terms, including references to
Try to avoid doing hypothetical assignments.
If possible, fìnd a real live client to work for,
even if that client is yourself.
your locality like "Palo Alto logos." Search
engines will eventually find you and so,
hopefully, will potential clients.
•Do a few great jobs, hope someone
notices, seeks you out (hopefully they are
able to find you) and hires you.
• Work for a design studio and let the
owners worry about finding clients.
*Join a professional organization
like the Graphic Artist's Guild (www.gag
.org) for tips, advice, camaraderie and for
their jobline. Local user groups, for
instance for Flash or Photoshop, are also
helpful for forming strategic alliances.
'Place ads in creative directories like
American Showcase, RSVP, and Work¬
book. Artists such as photographers, illus¬
trators, handletterers and logo designers
(though not general-category designers)
can purchase pages on which to display
samples. These directories are distributed
free to thousands of art buyers who may
hire you if they like your
style. Be aware that a page
can cost from $2500 to
$4000. Never use hypotheti¬
cal work in such ads, espe¬
cially if you've used the logo
of a company that never hired you. Be
aware that many of these directories have
become so heavy with competition that a
poorly focused page can yield few or no
*Buy a mailing list of design studios,
publication art directors, ad agencies and
the like. Lists can be gotten from the
aforementioned creative directories or by
doing an Internet search for lists. Print
up and mail to the list a sample sheet or
postcard displaying some of your work
and directing recipients to your web site
where your web portfolio can be seen.
Considering the costs of purchasing the
list, postage and printing, each piece
mailed could total more than $1.00. A
slightly cheaper (though cheaper look¬
ing!) approach would be to print the mail¬
ers on your own desktop laser printer on
card stock, if your printer will handle it.
LOGO, FONT 8c LETTERING BIBLE
On two occasions I bought mailing lists.
The first time yielded a great response.
The second time, the list (from a different
source) was badly outdated and 20% of
my mailers were returned "addressee
unknown," which was tragic. Be careful
whose lists you buy.
• Copy names and ad¬
dresses of magazine art
directors and assistant art
directors from the mast¬
heads of publications you'd
like to work for. Get addi¬
tional names of art directors and agencies
from the credits and indexes in design
annuals like HOW and Print. Send pack¬
ets of printed samples and tear sheets, if
you can spare them, of your work. This is
a cheaper approach—but much more
laborious—than buying lists, though your
names will be more up-to-date and defi¬
nitely more targeted.
• Send seasonal self-promo greeting
cards and novelties such as die-cut pop-
Below, self-promotional materials show a range of possibilities. Clockwise from
top: Michael Doret's page from the Workbook directory; Planet Propaganda's
impressive tabloid-sized logo portfolio; Tom Nikosey's 48-page, square-bound
booklet lavishly showcases his logos and design in full colon Font Diner sells a set
of smart, silkscreened glasses like these but also gives them away to choice
clients; Leslie Cabarga's four-page mailer announcing new psychedelic fonts; JHI's
17x22-inch conceptual piece in color on newsprint introduces clients to the firm's
design aesthetic a full color, 16-page booklet designed to showcase Leslie
Cabarga's fonts; the Font Bureau's 200-page, hard-cover catalog evokes the
grand, type foundry catalog of earlier times.
ups, or silkscreened drinking glasses.
Using this method, some designers have
for years kept themselves in the eyes of
art directors and art buyers. The truth is,
for any given assignment, there are 500
artists who could do the job equally well.
The one who gets the job will often be the
Start by accepting no job for less than $100.
As we progress in experience, our
minimums should rise accordingly.
one whose name most recently passed
through the AD's awareness. Keep metic¬
ulously updated card files (or backed-up
computer files) of clients and potential
• Buy lists of email addresses and
send out bulk emails directing people to
your site and your design services. You
could get some results, but most people
will hate getting spammed, even by you.
• Walk into local businesses and res¬
taurants with your card or
larger printed "leave
behind" samples, ask them
if they need a logo or a web
site. Network, talk to peo¬
ple, leave your cards up on
bulletin boards all over
the place. Leave your stu¬
dio purposely to go meet
people and hobnob.
Friends tend to hire
friends, so make friends!
• Call up art directors and ask to show
them your portfolio. This used to be the
way it was done, but by the mid-1980s it
all changed. Very few ADs will see you
nowadays because there are far too many
of us running around looking for work
and it wastes their time to meet you.
After all, your work might
totally suck. Some agencies
have a portfolio drop off poli¬
cy. You leave the portfolio
overnight and pick it up the
next day (hoping that some¬
one actually looked at it). I don't know,
but I imagine that in smaller towns than
New York, there might still be art direc¬
tors who would let you make an appoint¬
ment to show your "book."
When showing a portfolio, always tailor
it to that client. Don't include your rave
flyers when you see a childrens magazine
art director. It is better to show fewer
samples that are good, than many that
are so-so. Never show a portfolio of all
school work. No one buys life class draw¬
ings, so omit them. You may assume that
the variety of school assignments will
show your versatility, but the client is
focusing only on those aspects of your
work that may apply to his needs. He
needs to see that you've already done the
kind of work he buys so he can trust you
to finish an assignment. If the portfolio
you build in art school does not include
professional-looking hypothetical work
that you can bluff as having been real