How I Became A Graphic Designer

If you had asked me five years ago what I wanted to do after college, I never would have said graphic design. I was a Sophomore at The University of Oklahoma (Boomer!) studying religious history, and I was planning on graduating and going directly to seminary.Due to a family emergency, I dropped out of classes in the middle of my spring semester and took as many courses as I could each semester and intersession period to catch up. It took me an extra year, but I finally graduated, and at that point, I felt like I needed a break from school.

After graduation, I had no plan for a career and found myself working at my in-law's restaurant. They were working on updating their branding, and I was asked to find someone to design a new menu on a pretty small budget. I soon realized every designer I wanted to work with was outside of the budget I was given, so I decided to learn how to do it myself.

I had already subscribed to Adobe's creative cloud for a project in college and was briefly interested in the idea of designing logos, but I had never really attempted anything until then. It took me two months, but the end product was pretty good! I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from customers of the restaurant, and I realized design is something I could be good at.

After a couple of other small successful projects, I decided to get more serious. I used Youtube, Lynda, Skillshare, and pretty much any other resource I could find to learn the ins and outs of design, design software, and how to run a design business. With each little lesson I learned, I became more and more excited about the idea of designing for a living.

Fueled by the excitement of completing a few more projects, I taught myself how to design a website and started advertising that I was a part-time freelance graphic designer. I began to pick up more projects and even found clients who wanted to have me on retainer. Eventually, I was making almost as much money designing as I was at my day job.

Earlier this year, I left my day job and started working as a full-time freelancer. It has been a scary couple of weeks, and I still have a lot to learn, but I am happier than ever before.

I often think about the idea of going back to seminary, and maybe someday I will. For now, I am enjoying the challenge and excitement of becoming a better and more successful designer each day.