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How to go about making important connections as a designer?

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  • How to go about making important connections as a designer?

    Hello everyone, I have been a designer for roughly 12 years now. My dream has always been to work in the skateboarding industry as the art on decks and in Thrasher mag got me interested in going to school for design way back in the early 90's. My question is how would one go about making these types of connections to essentially get a "foot in the door" in an industry such as this or the music industry? I have been ready and willing to share my designs with the world and yet I typically feel somewhat disappointed that in my tiny corner of the world I am basically not known. I have always wanted to change the world with my visions and art, I want to share them with the masses! I am on social media, I've created a "brand" for myself, I reach out everyday, all day across social media platforms to companies I'd like to work for, just to let them know my presence. So far, nothing much has happened. I would like to know how one would go about making the types of connections I am talking about. Music Industry, Skateboarding Industry, Mainstream Retail Industry. Where to start? Steps? Thanks for reading!

  • #2
    May be offer them some free work? New skateboard design, album cover, posters? may be then they will realize how good you are..! What you think?


    • KitchWitch
      KitchWitch commented
      Editing a comment
      Never work for free. Your work is always worth something.

    • PrintDriver
      PrintDriver commented
      Editing a comment
      No, no free offers. Not even for ''exposure and glory.''
      If your work brings in money (or clicks or foot traffic) for someone else, expect to be paid well for it.
      If your work doesn't bring in money (or clicks or foot traffic) for others, question why you are even in the industry to begin with.
      Graphic design is there to sell, not to make pretty pictures.
      Even in the case of artwork on skateboards. If the artwork doesn't sell, doesn't appeal to the clientele, doesn't boost sales in some fashion, it is worthless.

      Custom art aside. With custom art, Someone is paying for a custom one-of-a-kind illustration. That is a different animal, and all the considerations as regards to copyright retention/release, exclusive use, and possibly licensing need apply, on top of being able to sell your artistic skill at being able to pull off the illustration to the client's satisfaction. That in itself is worth being paid.
      Last edited by PrintDriver; 08-26-2016, 07:30 PM.

  • #3
    There is a common misconception out there about how the upper ends of design actually work.
    Top notch record labels and mainstream retail, especially when you are talking about the larger, well-known brands, hire firms capable of handling the volume of work they need done. Maybe they hire even more than one depending on the capabilities they need. A designer working in one of these design firms may or may not specialize in one type of industry or another. Most of the time they work on what is handed to them for that particular day. There is really no place you can do ''just music albums'' or ''just movie posters'' or ''just retail collateral for Estee Lauder.'' It just doesn't work that way. You might be part of today's team doing a product rollout for Purina cat chow while doing prelim work for tomorrow's team on an album launch, which today extends far far beyond designing the cover art. Everything is connected to the brand and it takes a team headed by a production manager to bring all the parts together.

    Take that record album launch. The cover art is only one part of an overarching theme that has to incorporate not just the thing on the shelf, but also the internet presence, the social media, the broadcast media, a possible tour with staging and scenics, even the wraps on the road buses and street team vehicles.

    In the Indie label industry (music and retail, including skateboards) you can find work as a sole proprietor. Whether or not it will pay the bills is questionable. As a design contractor you might even find work at the agencies/studios that do the high end stuff, possibly even become a full time employee.

    How to get foot in door? There is, obviously, no easy answer for that. For every designer that has made it up there, there are 100 more waiting for them to make a mistake so they can take their place. At the designer level it's sort of a revolving door. Working your way up is a lot of work and a lot of hours and it is even more difficult to make the cut to a senior position. Your work has to be noticed by the right people and you have to be willing to take calculated risks. Show biz is relentless in chewing people up and spitting them out.

    I can't remember where in the country/world you are located. In the US, the main hubs for this industry are NYC and several cities in California. That's not to say there aren't resources available elsewhere, any large major city that is a gathering hub is likely to have opportunities for designers. Places like Chicago, Orlando, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, etc.


    • #4
      Originally posted by shanin666 View Post
      I have always wanted to change the world with my visions and art, I want to share them with the masses! I am on social media, I've created a "brand" for myself, I reach out everyday, all day across social media platforms to companies I'd like to work for, just to let them know my presence. So far, nothing much has happened.
      Don't be surprised if "nothing much" ever happens. Ambition is good, of course, but there are millions of people currently engaged in some form of "design" or other. Perhaps 10 of them will have the level of impact you envision, and the real number is probably a lot closer to 0 than that. There is stunning design work to be found all around you; how often do you learn the name of the originator? Even the most known and respected conceptual miracle workers are only that; known and respected. Maybe you read their books or blogs. Maybe their work inspires you to new heights in your own endeavors, and in that way, maybe it could be said that they changed some small part of the world for several minutes here and there.

      Change the world? Naw. Just make a life.

      Baseball analogy: You're up to bat, and all you want is to hit a home run. But you're swinging so hard that all the coaching you've had is going to waste; your form is off; you're ahead of the pitch; over-anticipating. Even when you make contact, the ball just sails into foul territory. Soon enough, you've swung through Strike 3 and the window of opportunity slams shut. Maybe you'll get other chances, but with each strikeout the pressure builds, and no success equals all failure. Face it; you're only so good a hitter, and home runsóeven one home runówon't come easy, and quite possibly won't ever come at all. Continuing this way, only "swinging for the fence" could indeed limit your opportunities in the future.

      Wouldn't it be better if you could just get up there and hit a single? Maybe even an effective bunt could get you on-base. From there, you can employ skills other than hitting. With good timing and speed you can steal second base. Maybe a teammate who is also willing to settle for a mere single will help advance you to third base, squarely in scoring position. From here, even if you don't score a run, you've at least been productive; you've given others on your team a chance to produce; you've created possibilities that could change the course and outcome of the game.

      Think big, yes, but be realistic. Recognize the value of small successes and savor life in chewable bites. There are many forms of success and satisfaction that don't involve widespread impact or recognition.

      Yours truly,
      Those of Us Who Happily Toil in Anonymity
      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.


      • #5
        Originally posted by shanin666 View Post
        I have always wanted to change the world with my visions and art, I want to share them with the masses!
        You're asking advise for sharing the vision and values of several industries, not your own. If an artist in the music industry can change the world, for example, as a graphic designer you would only be helping them do that.

        Maybe you should be an artist rather than a graphic designer.


        • salsa
          salsa commented
          Editing a comment
          Even then, what artist has truly "changed the world"?

          What changes the world is money. And, if you're asking for money, you don't have it, therefore you're not in control of changing the world.

          I agree with the others to just get by in your own life. Make yourself happy and the people around you happy. That is all that matters.

        • praxis11
          praxis11 commented
          Editing a comment
          When people say they want to change the world as shanin666 has they normally just mean have an influence.

          But yeah, it takes money to build a secret underground lair, steal some nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage to achieve total global domination.





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