A Career in Freelance Graphic Design: Alumna Profile
Graphic designer Melissa Price shares her experience of studying design at university, and explains the steps between graduation and going freelance and building a successful career in graphic design.
Melissa graduated from Australia’s University of Technology, Sydney with a bachelor of design in 1999. She admits that when it came to choosing a degree, she didn’t actually know very much about graphic design.
However, she knew she was interested in “working with images and typography”, and went about researching “the best and most highly regarded courses in Sydney, and the ones that really had an industry focus and prepared students for life and work after university”.
The course that stood out for Melissa was a degree in visual communications (‘viscom’) at the University of Technology, Sydney, and it was here that she spent the next four years.
It’s important to make the most of your time at university to start gaining work experience and making contacts, Melissa believes.
Gaining work experience
“I was lucky as I could live at home and did not need to worry so much about making money, but this is really the time to think about where you want to be when you leave university.
"Take a bar job, yes, but better still gain as much work experience (paid or unpaid) as you can and keep in touch with the contacts you make.”
After graduation, Melissa spent some time working in Sydney, before gaining international experience in the UK and Dubai, UAE.
“I’ve worked a lot in magazines, which I love, and always with a focus on print design,” she says.
Now back in Sydney, Melissa has established a successful freelance business, and says being self-employed has many benefits.
“I love having the flexibility to do whatever I want when I want, and speak to lots of different people and clients about an enormous range of ideas, concepts and media,” she says.
“I work on up to around ten projects at any one time and I find it really interesting working for a diverse range of clients and a wide variety of projects.”
She could go from designing a restaurant menu to advising a government department, or launching a poster campaign to developing an email newsletter.
While this variety keeps things interesting, there can be times when deadlines clash – meaning some late nights. But on the whole, Melissa says the work is “manageable, rewarding and enjoyable”.
One thing she does miss is having other designers around to share ideas with. “Never underestimate the amount you can learn from other people, and how ideas can develop between two or more minds.”
However, if business continues to grow, she hopes to be able to take on several other designers to form a creative agency.
This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in September 2021