When you’re a freelance designer life can get a little lonely, if you let if. Left in solitude work will suffer. Design, like most pursuits of mankind, cannot be done alone. That’s why your success as a freelance designer actually depends a great deal on how much you work with others.
I understand the nature of working as a freelancer means you are alone, but I’ve found it a lot more enjoyable and productive when you surround yourself with a community of likeminded, creative people. Whether that’s just been sitting in a café with my two best friends (an architect and a filmmaker), our small table cluttered with three laptops, mice and empty coffee cups, or being a part of the wider design community which is constantly growing in Canberra.
At university I’m a part of a group of students who spend far-too-much-time in the studio and stay far-too-late into the early morning, we call ourselves The Brains Trust. The Brains Trust is more than the group of dishevel, stressed out, junk food devouring students who may-not-actually-have-a-home, than we appear to be. Brains Trust is, well, what the name suggests; we help one another, give feedback, critique, tutorage and entertainment. We’re a group of friends, of family, and together we produce vastly better work than we ever could have alone.
Beyond this is my involvement with the Graphic Design Club, as the president I have access to the wider community of UC graphic designers, and beyond this, The Good Design club (Canberra’s Graphic Design club), AGDA (the Australian Graphic Design Association) and the DIA (the Design Institute of Australia). Each one of these organisations run events which bring the community together, create contacts and provide interesting speakers with a wealth of knowledge.
The DIA is great for this, last month I attended the first 5×5 night of 2014. This great event brought a crowd of designers for all different fields in Canberra together and we listened to 5 speakers on a variety of topics. They spoke of being fashion designers influenced by Japanese poets, town planning, the long term impact of building things, event planning, and fluid office spaces. Although none of which is directly relevant to my field, the message and stories of unlikely success were an inspiration.
Online I find a community of Australian graphic design students in The Design Kids, a website I follow and share what’s happening in the Canberra scene as a site contributor. Additionally I run my own blog on Canberra’s street art, CBR Street Beat, bringing the low-brow street and arts culture together and sharing with whoever will listen.
I also keep up to date with design online through websites like Medium, A List Apart and Smashing Magazine as well as follow and read my favorite designers including Nicholas Felton, Ellen Lupton, Jessica Walsh and Jan Cavan to name a few.
Perhaps a need for community isn’t true of everyone, I’m sure there are many freelancers out there who do amazingly completely solo. I however have found that everything in life is better when you have people to share it with, and so I try to branch myself as far as possible, meet as many creative people I can, become inspired, and hope to inspire others.