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4 Graphic Design Entrepreneurs Every Student Should Know

June 25, 2013 IADT General, Graphic Design 0 Comments

Graphic Design EntrepreneursIf you are interested in logo design, website design or entrepreneurship, you should know these four professionals. Read about their specialties and professional work – and discover what advice they have to offer you.

Melanie Burk

Even when she was a student in her degree program, Burk knew she wanted to work for herself. Knowing she was not interested in working for a big Graphic Design firm, she took classes in Business while studying Graphic Design.

Today, she is a graphic designer, teacher and entrepreneur. She founded her graphic design company, Fifth & Hazel, in 2009. She specializes in designing logos, brand identities and websites. Burk is known for doing custom work. She approaches her customers on an individual basis, considering their personal needs and wants. In her interview with Monica Lee, she said of her work, “I am creatively invested in my clients.”

She also teaches online courses on typography at Nicole's Classes. Recently, she collaborated with Alma Loveland and Mike Loveland to launch Caravan. Caravan is an online shop that specializes in digital downloads.

Burk is also noteworthy for volunteering her designs for charity work. She also offers discounted rates for special cause.

What you can learn from her: In her interview with Lee, Burk advised young Graphic Designers to have no shame.

When she completed her degree program, she did not know anyone in the Graphic Design field and did not know how to promote herself. She began by telling friends and family about her interests. Then, she found creative ways to advertise her work and her skills.

She offered discounted work to professionals in exchange for recommendations. Burk also worked many charity events. She was passionate about the work – which was for a good cause and also built her portfolio. She believes that Graphic Design students must be willing to shamelessly advertise themselves – especially if they want to be entrepreneurs.

Amy Pastre and Courtney Rowson

Pastre and Rowson are co-owners of the Charleston-based company, Stitch Design Co. Both had worked for larger graphic design firms before deciding to leave to form their own group. As entrepreneurs, they had a strong philosophy in mind: they wanted their company to offer something different.

They specialize in tailor-made graphic design. In an interview with Warren Lance Wise of The Post and Courier, Pastre said, “Every solution is different because every customer is different.”

Pastre and Rowson have designed logos for about 150 customers and maintain 30 ongoing clients. They specialize in logos, making signs, stationary and business cards. They also design websites and are affiliated with a letterpress company. Their customers are from across the U.S.

What you can learn from them: Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Both Pastre and Rowson started degree programs in different areas before switching to Graphic Design.

Pastre began in art education, because of her love of crafting and working with her hands. However, she felt unsatisfied. She took a class in Graphic Design and realized it was a better fit for her. She enjoyed the business aspect of the field.

Rowson, on the other hand, wanted to be an architect. However, the school she attended didn’t have a degree program in her field and she choose Graphic Design instead – planning to return to school for her Masters in Architecture. But, once she started the program, she was hooked. “I ended up loving it. It’s enjoyable and I could see myself having a career in it. I couldn’t imagine myself leaving it.”

Jason Feldman

In his Business degree program, Feldman found his classes to be difficult and boring. He decided to take some time off from school to explore his interests – and he discovered Graphic Design.

Feldman worked for two graphic design firms before deciding to launch his own firm in 2000, from his home office. His first priority was to build his client and referral list; he went so far as to join his local chamber of commerce and Business Network International.

Of his entrepreneurship, he enjoys being his own boss, art director, designer and account representative. “I have the flexibility to design my own schedule,” he says, emphasizing how important it is to motivate yourself to work when you are self-employed. This allows him to be involved in each step of the design process. He enjoys working exclusively with clients, building their trust and creating unique designs for them.

What you can learn from him: Use your degree program to explore. As a Graphic Design student, you have the opportunity to take elective courses. During his degree program, Feldman explored industrial design, photography, sculpture, drawing and electronic arts. His diversified interests allowed him to become familiar with many different art forms – which impacted his approach to Graphic Design.


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