Graphic Designer, Photographer 

(Female, Age 38) from Arlington, MA

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Female aged 38 who works as a Graphic Designer, Photographer in Arlington, MA. We have removed all names and personal information in order to protect privacy. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete one of our job profile surveys so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job Title Graphic Designer, Photographer
Salary $18,000
Other Compensation None Set
Company Size (not answered)
Location Arlington, MA
Years Experience 5 years

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career 0
Education (not answered)
Income Rating 0 / 10
Interest Rating 0 / 10
Work-Life Rating 0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating 0 / 10

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
I am a self-employed freelance graphic designer and photographer working from my home office.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
I specialize in providing affordable creative services to small companies; Typically, I will help a startup company with their logo, brand identity, website, and stationery. I also take on projects for larger companies that may involve creating a print ad or PowerPoint template. I supplement my design services with pet and portrait photography. I also shoot products and events.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
I have health insurance through my husband’s employer; since I freelance, I do not receive benefits.

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?
Freelancing is difficult; I set my rate at $50 per hour, but often lower my rate to help with small company budgets.

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
I miss the culture of being in an office. I was laid off from my job in 2002; at that company I was responsible for the holiday intra-office events. I work from home, but stay in constant contact with my clients. I like the one-on-one relationships I have with my clients, and have a friendly rapport with them – something you often don’t get in an office setting. It’s a trade-off, really.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
Since it’s just me, I don’t really have anyone with whom to collaborate! 🙂

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 4
Benefits: 5
Hours: 3
Co-Workers: 6
Supervisors: 7
Job Title: 8
Level of Responsibility: 2
The Actual Work: 1

A day in the life of…

Please describe a typical workday for you in your current job:

5am to 6am
6am to 7am
7am to 8am Still asleep! (I have no commute) I might as well take this opportunity to mention that it’s been very slow for me lately. I don’t have any large deadlines, so this is NOT an average day….
8am to 9am Woke up at 8:30. Checking email and sucked into browsing the Internet for interesting news and stories of the day (and yes, I’ll admit to being addicted to CuteOverload, LOLCats, and Scrabble on Facebook). Munch on a bowl of Froot-Loops, since I don’t feel like having a bagel today.
9am to 10am Going through my email, answering emails that require a response, and tending to any actionable items. Today, I’m adding a “Zagat Rated” banner to a caterer’s website, and making some edits and additions to an activist’s website. Send two versions of an EPS file to a client who needs to create a sign.
10am to 11am Personal stuff: my cat is in the hospital for a thyroid treatment, and I discuss a few options with the veterinarian. Then I clean up the kitchen, finish up the dishes from last night. Print out some emails to cross-check edits.
11am to 12pm Work on my photography portfolio, since I have nothing pressing at the moment. A friend calls with questions about Pantone colors; I take her through steps to identify colors in a logo she is working on. Around 11:45, I fix lunch for me and my husband.
12pm to 1pm Lunch time from noon – 12:30, at the kitchen table playing Yahtzee with my husband, who also works from home three days a week. Check email again, and post on my blog about a few interesting things. Write a piece for
1pm to 2pm Errand time: off to Toyota to have my Prius checked. Use Toyota’s wi-fi to chat with a client about updating her website. Check through my to-do list. On the way home, pick up birthday cards, buy groceries, and get ice cream.
2pm to 3pm Working. Retouching photos from a photoshoot last weekend with a Presa Canaria Mastiff. Create a tradeshow banner for a client who runs a farm; send over a PDF of the file for approval, and upload the final file to my FTP server. Once that’s finished, post two of the Mastiff photos to my photoblog.
3pm to 4pm I’m feeling grouchy thanks to the economy right now, so I take a nap.
4pm to 5pm Check emails; nothing urgent. Begin setting up a 2009 calendar for a rescue organization; I have had nine photo shoots with various breeds of dogs, and will be setting up the file in InDesign to be printed in November. I then create a certificate for the House Rabbit Network’s fundraiser in October; I’m donating a portrait session for their silent auction. I consider this advertising.
5pm to 6pm Send out an email to my activist client, instructing him on creating a slideshow for Flickr. Record a few expense receipts in my finance spreadsheet. Talk to a photography client on the phone about a new digital camera; she wants advice on what to get. Enter a paid invoice on my spreadsheet.
6pm to 7pm More work on my photography portfolio, then we go out to eat dinner.
7pm to 8pm Dinner out. Talking about the current political circus and the economy.
8pm to 9pm Back home; check through email again, and see if I have anything in my schedule that needs my attention (there’s nothing, because it’s been very slow lately). Finish getting photos ready for my photography portfolio, and then play Scrabble for a while.
9pm to 10pm The client who needed the EPS files just wrote back; she needs edits to the files, which I take care of. I send the updated files back to her.
10pm to 11pm Go through some personal photos and read a magazine. Generally hanging out in the bedroom, away from my laptop. At 10:45, a quick check of email before The Daily Show comes on.
11pm to 12am Watching The Daily Show and then some scary news about the economy and Sarah Palin. Then more Scrabble, and finally bedtime.

Table of Contents

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
I always had side design projects while working my “real” job; when I was laid off, this was a natural progression.

What was the application process?
Asking my husband for a shiny new Mac. 🙂

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
Through MacTemps, I received training in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Quark XPress, and Macromedia FreeHand. I have self-taught myself Adobe InDesign, PowerPoint and Dreamweaver, and I am currently learning Adobe Flash. Training is essential to design and photography, as the work requires a thorough knowledge of the software used for projects. I took photojournalism courses in college, and even worked in the darkroom.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
Yes! I have a B.A. in English (Communications minor). I believe that writing, photography, and design are all methods of communication designed to project a message to the intended audience.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
Work at a temp agency for a few years first, to get the feel of working on several different projects and in several different environments. Be part of a creative team, and gain collaborative experience before you strike out on your own. Being a creative designer is a talent, but you cannot ignore basic communication and collaboration skills!

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
Project organization, first and foremost; you will need to be comfortable working on many different projects at once, and you will have to track expenses and billing accordingly. Next, understand the needs of your clients; you will have to be very patient with people who are not skilled in knowing what to ask for, and you’ll have to be even MORE patient with those who think they know exactly what they want, but actually don’t. Be able to internalize several different personalities of your clients – you may work on vastly different projects, and will have to be comfortable taking a unique approach for each client. For instance, designing a website for a caterer is going to be a different experience than helping a baby-goods retailer with starting her business.

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
Design and business skills. I highly recommend a college degree. I have a B.A. in English.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Be humble. Creativity is a highly subjective area of expertise, and design is part art and part science. Once you define your audience (I targeted small business owners), be prepared to learn new perspectives on your approach to working. Design is an always-evolving medium (as is photography), so you should never feel that you know everything!

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
Definitely. I am able to travel whenever my husband wants (he has five weeks’ vacation), and I can fly South to help my mother when needed without taking days off work. This autonomy is wonderful for me.

What are your current career goals?
I want to publish a book, and I want to have an art gallery show of my photography. I also want to teach basic design or photography skills to others.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?
Don’t ever stop learning. With any career for which technology is an integral aspect of the job, you MUST dedicate yourself to pushing your own boundaries and learning new approaches and techniques. Never allow your skills to become stale, since design is a “hip” industry with many, many young designers entering the workforce every year.

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

Title Length Salary Description
Prior Job 1 Graphics Team Manager 3.5 years 52000 Started as a designer, and then became manager of a 5-person design team in 2000. Responsible for project management; projects included PowerPoint presentations, branding initiatives, and sales presentation tools.
Prior Job 2 print production artist 2.5 years $20 – $25/hour Temp for MacTemps; PowerPoint, photo retouching, ads, catalogs, print collateral, stationery, typesetting, etc.

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:honors

GPA School Degree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
3.2 College of Charleston B.A., English
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)
n/a n/a n/a

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