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Graphic design students share their aspirations of becoming freelance designers

Gabrielle Pritt stands wearing a white sweater while drawing on her ipad with a white wall and posters in the background.
Gabrielle Pritt said she started her design business on Instagram.

The world of design presents many career possibilities for graphic design majors. BYU–Hawaii students said receiving formal training and experience in the field has helped them discover what they want to pursue in the future. Some said they want to be freelance graphics designers so they can be their own boss.

From passion to online business 

Gabrielle Pritt, a freshman from Nevada majoring in graphic design, said she started her small design business in January 2020 on Instagram by posting her designs and showcasing her work.

She explained, “Some of my friends started following [my page], then family members, then acquaintances. It just kept growing and growing.”

Pritt said she knew she had a future in graphic design when people started reaching out and requesting designs, logos and rebranding designs from her via Instagram. Picking her major was easy, she said, since her main focus was already graphic design.

As a graphic design student, she said she is preparing for a future career through classes that teach her fundamental skills and knowledge about the field. She said getting formal training can help her make designs for bigger companies and create with more skill and precision.

Pritt said her professors urge their students to learn different skills and to master the basics before they move into more complex projects and designing opportunities.

Freelance work

Pritt said her dream is to become a freelance graphic designer in order to work with many different companies. She said, “Being a freelance graphic designer means being my own boss and not being tied as a company’s official graphic designer. I want to be able to bounce around between different individuals and companies, so I will expand my network.”

Trisha Panzo, a senior from the Philippines majoring in graphic design and psychology, explained that being a freelance graphic designer is a way to gain more experience in the career field by working with many different customers. Panzo said she would love to work with companies to create posters and layouts.

She expressed, “I want to do graphic design in the future to help companies rebrand. Branding actually does help out a company’s online presence and helps small businesses a lot, so rebranding can definitely change people’s perspectives on that certain business.”

Trisha Panzo smiles wearing a blue tie dye shirt with a black background.
Trisha Panzo said she wants to use graphic design to help companies rebrand.

She described freelance graphic design as being in control of your time, your projects and the number of projects you take in. She said, “You are basically free to do whatever you want to do as long as the client is okay with it.”

A collaborative effort

Pritt said when she receives a request to create something, she collaborates with the client in order to make a product the client will thoroughly enjoy.

“When I work with individuals who want custom designs for their own personal use, I work a lot with them instead of doing my own thing. I like to have them involved with what I’m doing every step of the way.”

Gaining experience

Panzo said gaining real life experience is one of the best ways to determine whether a career in graphic design is right for you. She expressed that her professors teach a broad range of topics so that students can make an educated step toward a specific pathway in graphic design. She explained it is all about finding your specific niche.

She advised students to get involved with projects that are not strictly for school credit in order to grow as a designer. Doing jobs outside of her school projects has been a great way to gain experience and create a portfolio, she said.

Some careers options for graphic design majors include becoming an art director, editing film and photos, working for magazines and printing companies and website design.

Graphic design can also lead to jobs in advertising, marketing, fashion and for general brand improvements, like website updates, rebranding and photo retouching.

BYUH students can find mentors through the Ohana Network where they can connect to thousands of alumni around the globe who work in a wide array of fields.