I am a French graphic designer based out of Los Angeles, California and funnily enough, I started my career on the “business” side of advertising, as an account manager. Once I felt I had outgrown this job, I decided to move into a creative direction and use my commercial experience to support with my creative work. I was always attracted by the creativity of advertising and working closely with many artists and building strong relationships in the field has helped in making the transition as smooth and successful as possible. I have a communications degree and though I am self-taught in terms of software, the art and design savvy comes from those many years of experience on the “account” side.
As far as pitfalls, I’d say the hardest was to find new clients and how to turn basic relationships into business ones. It takes a certain talent to know how to network and promote your services correctly.
4. What do you feel are the most important skills for a designer to have?
Well obviously a keen eye for color and geometry, a wild imagination and a strong discipline, the latter being especially true for freelance designers. But most of all, an unfailing dedication to always seek to improve your skills through practice and experimentation!
5 .Do you have any favorite websites for interacting with other designers that you would like to share with us?
I use mostly Freelanceswitch.com which has a great forum and the Behance network where I have found some very talented people. I have been able to meet and interact with many fellow designers on these sites and have learned a lot from them. I have a flickr account toobut I don’t see much networking possibilities on it. As for twitter, I tried it but I’m not a very assiduous blogger so I figured it wasn’t for me.
The hardest lesson I learned was to not price yourself too low. I started out by doing favors and offering cheap fees and it definitely worked out against me.
The two major problems with pricing yourself too low are these:
1. Clients don’t respect you when you are cheap. They don’t value the work you do as a special skill (which it is). And you end up typecast as inexpensive so that when such a client gives you a referral, you’re forced to price low again and it becomes a vicious circle.
2. You end up working many hours for little reward which takes a toll on the quality of your work and more importantly, on your morale as you feel you are getting ripped off.
I had a couple of clients like that in the beginning and I wish someone would have told me to stand for myself and my talent and work only for those who valued my skill and my time.
7. Who would be the biggest influences on your design career?
I like to stay active in the community and check out what other designers do but only so much. Too many influences can end up tainting your own unique creativity.There are however a few designers whom I find immensely talented and have reached a high level of success which I hope to emulate one day, guys such as Chuck Anderson, Scott Hansen and Laurent Seroussi from France.
9. What are the tools that you as a designer couldn’t live without? (softwares, invoicing tools, time/task-management apps, pen/paper, online etc…)
My notebook for sketching and taking notes and obviously my desktop computer with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I’m hoping to purchase a laptop very soon so I can work and be mobile at the same time, which is every freelancer’s dream, isn’t it?
10. Where can we find you online?At my personal site www.styleelectric.net and on
the Behance network at www.behance.net/kimonfds.
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