Has Covid affected your industry?

Hi everyone, as a graphic design student. I’ve done some research, but I’m curious. Has Covid affected your business or your work? If so, how?

I’m sure everyone will have a different answer. I’m an in-house designer. The only affect it has had is that I now work remote full-time until at some later date my boss and I determine I need to be back in the office. I will say we also had to let a few people go due to finances, but all in all other than working remotely, not much has changed.

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Thanks for the response! It’s good to hear not much has changed other than that one thing. Sad to hear about the ones who have lost their jobs though.

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I have another question, if I’m too forward you can ignore it.
I’m doing my college online and I’m from a small town. When I am done with my schooling, would it be wise to move to a bigger town where more work is presentable or can I manage where I’m at?

I’m in New Zealand where we had 50 days of lockdown starting end of March. All businesses were closed except essentials like hospitals and supermarkets. Everyone switched to working from home. If your job wasn’t able to be done this way, you did admin. People found admin work to do and this often included some form of design. I was already working from home as freelancer so this didn’t change anything for me.

Where I am, we haven’t had any lockdown since May but many businesses have been more flexible about their staff working from home. Many of my clients are now working from home, even though they don’t have to. Working from home has meant many businesses are pivoting their businesses and for me that has meant new projects including new retail ranges for online shopping, and rebranding jobs. My clients have more time to do admin around their business. More time to think of new products, more time to work on rebranding.

Our economy is strong and we are lucky we don’t have community spread of Covid here. I haven’t seen any dip in invoicing, the last few months have been really busy. The biggest changes for me are the tighter deadlines for overseas print and manufacture. Lead times are much longer due to worldwide demand. I’m having to turn around projects much quicker than before, as my clients are dreaming up new products, the packaging basically has to be designed within a week or two so they can get on the shelves early-mid 2021.

I think Covid will change things a lot but as long as people are willing to pivot and adapt to what is needed out there, you can do OK.

For example restaurants did badly out of lockdown, but groceries did a booming trade. I had a restaurant client start their own sauce/paste range because that was what they could do to adapt to the new normal of everyone cooking at home.

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Thank you for your response! So do you think in the near future most of the work will be working from home, or do you think things will maybe one day go back to normal?

Hard to say. I love working from home, but it’s not for everyone. I think for some industries, there will be more working from home. Even before Covid there was a trend of graphic designers freelancing more.

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Thanks again for your input, I really appreciate it!
As for myself, I worked at a place for 3 years and we did custom designs using CorelDraw. I was using this for a side business I was doing as well. I designed custom cups as in arctic and yeti cups. I was making decals as well. But my other question is, once I graduate and get my degree. Should I further my knowledge with professionals in an actual office before I decide to freelance. I know it’s very early for me to be thinking about this at the moment. But just wanting to know which direction I should go.

I print large format, and we’re slowly dying out here. No trade shows. No live shows. No events. No award shows. No auto shows. Not even local chamber of commerce stuff. We’re surviving, but some of my friends/outsources are not. We’re all at about 1/2 to 2/3 staff due to layoffs. Lead times are way out there.

And don’t even think of buying acrylic. Yikes. With all the covid shielding its a hot commodity, and the manufacturers are making so much 1/4" clear, they aren’t making anything else. We have backorders out to March next year on acrylic.

You should do as much interning/jobs/part time/full time working for others while still in school if at all possible. The recommended route to freelance is 5-10 years working in the industry for someone else so you get some experience, so as not to reinvent the wheel with all your clients. You also command a much better client audience with experience. It is never too early to think about what you want to do. In fact, it’s a really good idea to do some research and figure out where you want to be in 10 years, what you want to be doing, if you want to specialize in some area of design. Then you can build a plan to work toward that. Keep your goal in mind as you work your way through your experience level stuff. And don’t worry if something derails that plan for something you hadn’t considered. There are opportunities out there. Try to plan ahead.

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Yes, enormously so.

I switched jobs a year ago this past summer and began working for a university. When the Covid furloughs and subsequent layoffs began, my lack of seniority meant that I was the first to go.

Since then, I’ve been making ends meet through freelancing — just like I did years ago. I can’t hardly wait until next spring when the vaccine will likely be widely available and things begin to get back to normal.

Now that you have everything under control, can we borrow Jacinda Ardern for the next couple of months?

Here in the U.S., we’ve had a lack of meaningful federal leadership. Temporary and piecemeal lockdowns at state and municipal levels ended just as they started to show results, which is a bit like ditching the parachute once it begin slowing one’s free fall. People are arming themselves and protesting against being asked to wear masks and the supposedly dire consequences vaccinations. The country has gone nuts.

I’m wondering how New Zealand managed to get all the world’s sane people.

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That’s awful, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it gets better for you! Thank you for the advice! While in school I do a lot of research as well. But I really appreciate the feedback. It was very helpful!

I’m sorry to hear that. I’m not in design just yet. But the same thing actually happened to me. I finally received the job that I had been wanting. On April 10, they had to let me go due to Covid and I’ve been looking ever since. It’s been a struggle since then. I’m just ready for this whole thing to be over so we can get back to normal, and people can start working again.

I don’t recommend a new graduate starts freelancing right after graduation. Design school is a starting point. Your first few years at a full time design position will teach much more than you ever learned at school.

However, I acknowledge it may be hard to find work out there right now as a new grad. It’s good that you have some real life work experience under your belt already. Get in as much work experience as you can BEFORE you graduate. If the current climate allows.

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Not my words but still holds true: You have Jacinda Arderns in the US. You just refuse to elect them.

Obviously there are some level headed people in the US. Yourself included. I hope things work out for you B. I feel like freelance clients these days are super hungry for designers with experience.

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No, the Jacinca Arderns refuse to run. Who’d want to put up with all that crap?

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Or that. They might be assassinated…

Absolutely definitely. To go freelance with no real studio experience is almost suicidal. This is compounded by the fact, your current experience is with Corel Draw. You will need to be proficient with Adobe, as the industry standard.

Naturally, at the moment it is going to be difficult. Once things return to some sort of normality, if you can, when you have a degree and a solid portfolio, the ideal would be to move to a larger city and work in a top-flight studio environment for four or five years. After that, there is every reason you can work from where ever you choose.

I have been doing so for over 20 years now, from different locations (including different countries), with some of my clients being the same throughout. It makes no difference to them where I am, as long as I can deliver the service they need. I don’t believe this would have been possible without the ten years I spent living and working in London. It gave me the knowledge and grounding I needed. I now live in the middle of nowhere (with a very good internet connection). Makes no difference. I guess it is going to become even more normal in the coming years. Even now, when I work on book projects, for example, there is always a team of people (editors, proof-readers, picture researchers, etc and, of course, the author) and it would be a rare thing if anyone other than the commissioning editor and some admin staff were in their office. Most of us are freelance and scattered all over the place.

In addition, in that environment, you will make a network of contacts and friends over the time. Some of mine are still there, some have moved, but we remain in contact both socially, to varying degrees and we are always helping each other out on different projects. People move jobs, but they tend to rely on their trusted contacts.

The knock-on effects of working in major cities in good studios for a few years is immeasurable. You get to meet some amazingly talented, humbling people.

As an aside; always surround yourself with people who are better than you. That way, you improve and grow, as the benchmark is set high. If you are the best of those around you, your ego may be fluffed up, but the benchmark is, by definition, set lower. Hence my suggestion of aiming for top-flight, big city studios.

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In the US, the problem with many big city studios is, except for a very few, they have all downsized and are in the practice of hiring on contractors when work comes their way. And their contractors are usually former employees that have been RIFfed. That’s why I suggest to do all the internships and part time stuff you can while still in school. Studios still feel altruistic when it comes to interns and will take a few on if circumstances permit. What they won’t do is contract on a newb when there is billable work to be done on time and on budget. Current entry level in the US is pretty much a 4-year degree and 2 years of real-world experience. That’s entry level. Try as hard as possible to do that part while in school. This doesn’t mean you have to work in a studio. Working in a print shop or a sign shop would qualify as experience. Though right now, that could be tough to as I noted above. Interns, as I said are always a special consideration, and while we pay ours (interns have to be on-the-book employees,) the intern rate isn’t gonna break the bank.

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I work in a small print shop, doing design on low budget jobs mainly. A family firm, the dad retired and the daughter took over. They’ve been great to me.

At the start of the covid pandemic, and before an official lockdown was announced, we took the decision to work from home. I’ve done it before after my operation.

The print+finishing guys go in a few times a week to run stuff through but I took the work Mac home and the boss works from home too. She says when this is all over we could still work from home if it suits me. It does. I can even work from my mum’s house when I go over there to look after her.

We had a few quiet weeks at first but since then our business has been pretty normal, even busier then normal some days and we are picking up a few new clients.

I go out for food now and again and other than that I watch the madness unfold on TV. I count myself very lucky that I still have an income.

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Thank you for your feedback! That definitely helps a lot! I appreciate it!

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