We chat with Paul Russell a talented designer who just recently moved from studio to full-time freelance. Hear Paul’s words of wisdom and learn more about his amazing 100 days project!
Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!
Since the beginning of this year I have been working solo as a freelance designer; before that I worked in design studios for just over 4 years. My key focus now is branding but I have recently fallen in love with lettering and digital illustration. I love working solo as I am totally in charge of what I do. There are lots of things about being a freelancer that can make it hard and I would say its not for everyone. I am quite a self motivated person so I’m finding that it really suits me. I love the fact that the success of a job purely depends on me.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Your location doesn’t define if you are going to succeed or not. With the way technology is now you can be successful anywhere and you definitely do not need to be working in some swanky, award winning agency in a big city to produce greatness. You can produce some of your greatest work sitting in your lounge wearing your pyjamas.
2.There are going to be days when you hate everything you have ever done and you will want to give up and go all ‘into the wild’. Sometimes these days last for weeks or months but they do eventually fade away. Generally it means you need to change something or try something new. If you think all the work you’re doing is shit, then push harder. You will hate yourself more if you just give up.
3. Your work ethic is just as important, if not more than your talents. Employers and clients love the positive, easy going person who works their ass off much more than some arrogant asshole who yes, is super talented but who throws their toys when they don’t get their way.
4. There is no right or wrong way to go about your career. Life is long and people succeed at very different times in their lives. From personal experience time and effort is the key to lasting success.
How do you deal with non creative clients that don’t see your vision?
Clients that don’t understand your ideas are always frustrating but as a creative it is your job to solve whatever the problem is that they have come to you for. If they don’t see your vision, the most likely reason is that you are to blame. A client not seeing your vision generally means you aren’t completing the brief properly. If you can tick all the boxes of client requirements then your vision should still be able to shine through too. I have had many clients that weren’t on the same wave length, but over the years I have learnt that it is a balancing act.
Any personal projects you would like to share? past, present or future?
I am currently working on a bit of a cliche project, producing a unique piece of typography every day for 100 days. I have to say though, it has been amazing for personal growth and it has lead to some of the work I am most proud of. I would recommend anyone at any level of skill to try produce a piece of work every day. You will find that the pressure of having to perform so often will expand your creativity, speed up your work process and help you develop new techniques and skills along the way. I’m only halfway through and I’m super excited to see what the second half will bring. Its nice to see from day one, through to now how much personal growth I have had. Check out @typex100 on Instagram.
What advice would you give students starting out?
My advice would be to focus on learning the foundational skills that make a GOOD designer. Learn the basics of typography and layout thoroughly. Find out what the elements are that make a great design timeless; you will see patterns emerge the more you study and practice. All designers get sucked in by current trends and there’s nothing wrong with that but if you are a genuinely good designer, you will find that no matter the changes in technology or design platforms that you will always excel due to that solid foundation of skills.