Just starting out - HELP!

Hello, I’m in the UK and would appreciate any help!

I’m new to graphic design but passionate about it. I’m looking to being working from home part-time and would like to focus on business logo design, stationary etc. This will be turning a hobby into a job. I have done a little of this from friends and family and I’m not going to be taking over the world but would appreciate any help/tips in terms of where to look for work, what design programmes other people are using for such work and realistic fees to charge.

I want to build up a customer base and “get out there” but this will be a single person enterprise so need to be sensible with my overall time, business generation and actual work/design.

Any help, pointers, suggestions etc would be welcome and thank you for your time.


If you are going to make a business out of your hobby, do research into what it means to set up a business in your locale. Do you have a business plan? Do you know what will happen to your assets if someone decides to sue you?

Just gonna say, Business Logos are not developed in a vacuum. Usually they are part and parcel with a much larger design and marketing package that not only introduces the design, but also introduces the company to the public. That would include advertising, web design, marketing of all kinds, possibly a store or restaurant fit out…it goes far beyond just the pretty picture. Someone looking for a serious startup package isn’t going to be hiring a hobbyist.

“Doing business logos” is a very serious endeavor. Someone else’s livelihood is resting on your skill at reading their market. And heaven help you if you inadvertently recreate an existing logo and your client gets a cease and desist. I’ve always been of the opinion logo designers should have to carry some type of malpractice insurance, but at the very least you want to do whatever is legally possible to separate your assets from your business.
If someone opening a store gets a C&D after all the work has been done, they are on the hook for a lot of money. Whose fault will that be?

Scare tactic? Not really. A lot of pro designers don’t even want to touch logo design. Partly because of all ^ that and partly because of the time suck for all the research involved. They could be doing more of the stuff they like better and charging appropriately for it.

But without schooling (that’s an assumption on my part) or real world experience, you will probably be stuck at a level where the grifters are just waiting to take advantage of you. It isn’t impossible to make a living at graphic design, by why start behind the 8 ball? There are thousands of fully schooled graphic designers out there unable to find a job and are out there ‘freelancing.’ Do you feel you are ready to compete with them for business?

Think long and hard about taking your ‘hobby’ to the next level.

As for software, industry standard is the Adobe suite. You should be able to make enough money monthly to cover your overhead and that would be a big part of it. It’s $60USD for the entire Adobe package. If you can’t cover that on top of all your other overhead…well…

Handoff on logos is vector art. Usually an .ai file, but might also include some raster formats depending on your client needs. Knowing how to build logos that fly through production when printed is a good place to be too. You don’t want to cause your clients extra in print set up fees. Critical color matching is a help too (though frankly falling by the wayside these days in the interests of ‘I want it NOW’)

Get yourself a Graphic Artist Guild Handbook. You will have to adjust any pricing guidelines for your location and your skill level. I believe that book is written for the US market, so bear that in mind too.

Where to look for work? Just look for where the lines of college grad designers are standing. Freelancing from home is usually done after years in the industry when you have the savvy, skills and client base already formed. Learning while practicing on people’s livelihoods? I’m not a fan. Do your best to stay away from crowdsourcing. It doesn’t seriously count toward any kind of experience level and often is just a grand waste of time. You’d make a more stable income just flipping burgers for an hourly wage.

Bonne Chance!

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For starters, study the portfolio of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv to pick up some good design habits::

Domestika offers a very good, drirt-cheap logo design course with Sagi Haviv:


Logos are desgined with vector graphics editors, to make sure they can be made as large as necessary. This way they can be upscaled indefinitely without any loss in quality. Vector graphics editors include Adobe Illustrator - the industry standard - Inkscape, Affinity Designer and Corel Draw.

Never create a logo using a bitmap/raster graphics editor, like Photoshop, Affinity Photo or GIMP, as it will be stuck at the size/resolution it was created at. If you try to upscale such a logo, it will get blurry and pixelated.

Even though Illustrator is the industry standard, you should be fine as long as you are able to work in the CMYK color space, which is used for print (more on this in a moment), and produce the right kinds of files, namely SVG, PDF, .EPS and PNG or TIFF.

Personally, I use Inkscape + Affinity Designer, rather than Illustrator. I sculpt my logos in the former, in black and white, and then transfer them to the latter to properly colorize them - using the CMYK color space - and export them to the aforementioed file formats:

Of course, you might want to learn how to use Illustrator, since it’s the industry standard, but as a freelancer you might also use other software.

If you want to learn how to use Inkscape and Designer, I highly recommend Nick Saporito:



Logos are printed, for the most part, so it’s very important to colorize them using a color-accurate display, a color-managed app, such as Illustrator or Affinity Designer, and the CMYK color space.

Before you start making logos for clients, you should get a good display - preferably with a 90-100% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space) and a colorimeter. My personal unit is a 15,6" laptop 4K AMOLED display with a 95-96% coverage of Adobe’s gamut, calibrated with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro Plus (currently Calibrate ColorChecker Display Plus) and Calibrite CC Profiler (formerly X-Rite i1 Profiler).

Of course, there’s much more to screen-to-print matching than just a calibrated display, but without it you’re going to have absolutely no control over your colors.

You definitely should never colorize files for clients using a random, uncalibrated display.

If you want to learn about color management and display calibration, I highly recommend Art Suwasang of BenQ and Calibrite/X-Rite:

I have difficulty relating to or empathizing with your plans, so I’m a little hesitant to answer. You sent me a private message asking for a response, so I will. You won’t like it, though.

I’ve spent a career in this field and have done well, but it only began after many years of education, multiple degrees, several internships, and part-time production jobs learning the trade. In addition, that career involved busting my butt with 60-hour weeks at various agencies, corporations, and higher-ed institutions, plus running my own business after hours for three decades. In other words, I paid my dues and earned my spot at the table.

So here you are with a self-described passion but no relevant education or experience. You’re looking for a shortcut into the field so you can immediately start working with clients to turn your hobby into a career designing logos and stationery. However, your passion doesn’t seem to extend to getting the requisite education or experience.

Your plan comes across as someone passionate about dentistry deciding to skip the education and moving ahead to set up an orthodontics practice. Luckily, for clueless patients, this is illegal. No such laws exist protecting ignorant business clients putting their company’s branding into the hands of hobbyists.

You live in the UK, and you’re proposing an internet-run business where you’ll be competing with people in parts of the world where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in Britain. You’re proposing a business model built around something (logos and stationery) where you’ll have little chance of earning enough money to make a sufficient profit. In your message, you mentioned contest crowdsourcing sites as a possible means to break into the business. Maybe some people in some countries can earn a living designing £60 logos for bottom-feeding clients, but can you?

Almost no profitable design businesses in higher-income countries specialize in internet work centered around designing only logos and stationery. A few rare individuals have made names for themselves with podcasting and YouTube videos that promote their logo design work, but they’re the exceptions. Unfortunately, their internet success has led to countless people thinking there’s a viable niche in logo design to make money.

I’m not sure what the situation is in the UK, but there are likely ten wannabe designers for every design job here in the US. Even a bachelor’s degree in the field from a high-profile university is no guarantee of success. We would typically get around 150 applicants for every design job at the last agency where I worked. We would immediately eliminate anyone without a relevant bachelor’s degree and solid experience. After that, a cursory portfolio review would remove most of the others.

However, you’re not proposing to work for an employer. You seemingly don’t know it, but you’re proposing to work for lousy cheapskate clients who are OK with hiring out mission-critical work to hobbyists. If you want better clients, they’re the ones with larger budgets who need more than a quick logo and matching stationery. They’re also the savvy clients who hire professionals with the credentials and experience to do the job the right way.

If you’re dead set on it, though, good luck. In that case, you’re better off following @Jakub_Trybowski’s advice — not mine.



Logos are designed using color matching systems.
Like pantone.

Color accurate displays mean nothing.

Cmyk color space means nothing.

You have no control over it in cmyk.

Seems like a waste of money and time. Unless you’re connected to the printing machine.

The clients monitor will be uncalibrated anyway. They don’t see the same color as you do.

And a printers output device won’t be calibrated to your monitor profile.

Every client receives a CMYK color palette:

That makes no difference.

Don’t underestimate the amount of non-billable time you’ll need to put in to maintain a business and recruit clients. Finding clients can be especially time consuming. You need to factor that into your rates.

Logos and stationary are one-time projects. You will expend a lot of resources to find those clients, and then make them happy, then they’ll be gone for years and years until the day they want to rebrand. That’s a tough way to make it in this business. What you need to seek out and win over are clients with recurring needs… projects that are weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual, etc.

Well, you’re overstating that a bit. They both mean something, but I agree with the gist of what you’re getting at.

The Author should start his freelancer career on Upwork:



Honestly, not being a prick.

But can’t sit back and see this.
It’s wrong.

Have to have standards.

Nope. More bad advice.

If this was 30 years ago you might have a chance at specializing with just a few topics like just logo designs or stationary. The way the climate is today, you will need to do and know a ton of stuff just to break even. My advice is simple, unless you are ready for the heartache of “no education equals no pay”, you will be soured on how hard you are working with no much to show for it. As these guys will tell you, the only way to actually have a “graphic design” business is to have the skill set needed to compete with the “millions” of others out there. You got jazzed from being able to make friends and family happy but you need to realize how draining “real” clients can be. Don’t ruin your hobby. Unless you pay your dues and spend years learning what you need to know, you will not achieve what you think you can and end up very jaded.

That said, you can get great design advice on this forum since there is a ton of talent here.


Actually, I think it’s best to specialize in one thing, since - say - photo editing and logo design require two different skillsets and toolsets and it’s difficult to be good at both.

I disagree. I’m good at both, simply because I do not believe in this kind of nonsense.

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  1. Get an education
  2. Get four of five years studio experience
  3. Beware of dubious advice.

If you don’t follow the steps above, don’t bother. It’s a simple as that.

It’s always been a tough area to get into design at anywhere near top-flight level, but now it is ridiculously tough with so many have-a-go hero, hobbyists flooding the market, who frankly have little idea of what they are doing.

Most of us who have had a successful career have done the hard yards. Lived hand-to-mouth in dodgy student shared houses, Same again in the big cities to get the experience in good studios.

Nothing worth having comes easy.

By the way, I am in the UK and what Just-B said applies here too. Too many people think it’s an easy route to a career. It should be a regulated industry in my opinion. As others have said, you can do a lot of damage if you don’t know what you are doing.

That said, don’t let this put you off. If you are talented (the university entry process will weed you out if you’re not), and go the right way about building your future, you may just end up with a fantastically rewarding career. I’ve loved it so far and got to work with some amazing talented, creative people, both as clients and collaborators.

Do it the right way and heed the advice you’ve been given here – well, most of it.


Firstly, you’re entering a world of cynical people, so it’s ‘stationery’, not ‘stationary’.

Always remember it’s ‘e’ for envelope - not an ‘a’ - there’s your first piece of advice.

The number of signs I see around from local signmakers with their own words on it spelled incorrectly is infuriating.

There’s a local barbers that claims to be ‘pprestige’; and a pub that has ‘daught beer’.

Are they still in business - of course. But I don’t think they’d hire the same design firm again.

You’ll need to know the difference between

Raster vs Vector
Tonnes of resources on this

You’ll need a basic understanding of outputs - that is how the logo is going to be used.
Screen prinitng
Flexo Printing

Typically - you can get by without the above.

Stick with Vector logos.

Buy a Pantone Solid to Coated book and also a Pantone Solid to Uncoated book - ring a few print supply stores. They typically come in pairs anyway.

Add these colours from the book - that you purchase. This is how they print.

Do not pay attention to how it looks on the screen. It’s irrevelant.
The colours in the books is how they print.

As long as you use the colours from the book - a printers can match this - as they have the same book.

And you can show your client how they look - or ask a print shop for a printed sample of a logo design if the client is unsure.

Your screen colour means nothing - calibrated or not calibrated… your screen won’t match a printers output. That’s just a fact.
The screen is always RGB - and the output could be digital, it could be spot colours, it could be CMYK - but your screen is always RGB - so the colours you see won’t match a random printers output device.

That’s why it’s important to use Spot Colours. And use Colour Matching Systems - like that in Pantone.

As you’re in the UK it makes sense to use Pantone - if you were in China or Japan I’d specify TOYO to you.

If you were a painter I’d specify RAL.

Anyway - if you’re good enough to get business you’ll have no problem.

You’ll spend at least 2 days of every week chasing money. So be prepared for at least 2 days of downtime where no production takes place and you’re going to meetings and/or ringing/emailing/visiting about invoices and chasing bills.

This goes for any industry. A friend of mine is a bricklayer who started their own business and they said the same thing.

If you have some, wife, child (old enough), friend, brother, sister, aunty, uncle, neighbour or anyone you trust - see if they wouldn’t mind running some admin tasks for you to free you up.

Of course pay them if necessary.
That is if you’re busy all the time and chasing is becoming a pain.

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Oh - and Pantone Coated book and Uncoated.
It’s the same ink colour on the different types of paper - but the shades of colour are different due to saturation.

So you will need to pick a closer match for the coated vs uncoated, they might not necessarily be the same Pantone number.

And the CMYK variant will be different - so might need to choose a different CMYK numbers.

But they are all in the book - and you can make choices from this.

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Hmm … Not sure about that.

Though keep in mind that a Pantone book is only as good as the lighting conditions in which it is viewed:

In my opinion it would be best have both Pantone books + the right light source to view them and a calibrated, color accurate display, to preview your designs.

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