Two years ago, Melted was born, and I wanted my first post to be about what it meant to be a professional designer.
In all truth, I’m still the same self-taught designer that I was back then, except, that now I have professional experience and a new perspective.
How did I get here? Well, I was stubborn. Even though I felt like giving up, I didn’t.
And as much as I want to share the secret recipe and the shortcut to get where I am today, there isn’t one. It’s called hard work, and perseverance.
To get to where you want to be – in my case to become a professional designer -, you have to experience some hit and misses, until one day, you land the job you need (mine was becoming a designer in a startup company).
I have to be honest, I was planning on being a junior at an agency. So, it wasn’t exactly my plan to start at a startup and be a solo designer (with what I thought was a very little experience).
However, once I got the job, I embrace it. I took every opportunity as a learning and growing experience and did as much as I could.
Once I felt that I was able to spend some money, I was all in. I bought more books, enrolled in workshops, and made an effort to build my portfolio substantially. That’s how I got to be where I am today.
What kind of professional designer am I?
Like then, I’m still trying to find my place in the design world, except I have a better chance of getting there now.
I had both good and bad experiences with agencies, but mostly, I was disappointed. I came to the conclusion that, maybe, agency life isn’t my cup of tea after all.
Right now I’m advancing my career as a freelancer and, though, I still don’t pretend to have more qualifications than I do, I take pride on my portfolio, and stand by my convictions as a professional in this area.
Does a degree still matter more than the experience?
Yes and no. Having a good, solid portfolio opened a lot of doors for me, even some that I didn’t think were possible.
Learning is still on my top priorities and will remain there. Online courses like I mentioned two years ago, can be of big help but, there’s one Youtube channel that changed my perspective completely.
The Futur became my everyday go-to tool when it comes to learning about being a professional freelance designer.
However, I feel like I’m at a point in life where I need to go back to school. I want to learn some things that I haven’t been able to master on my own.
So, I have enrolled in a design master with the sole purpose of learning as much as possible. Yet, if it turns out that it gives me new opportunities, even better. I won’t pretend that that isn’t a good thing.
Today, just like two years ago, my opinion stays divided. There is a great number of self-taught professional designers who do great work, and there are also bad designers with a degree.
Either way, the key elements – regardless of where you come from education wise – are humility, hard work, and resilience to endure the harsher days.
In the end, don’t let anyone diminish you for who you are, self-thought or not. Know your worth, keep your head up, and keep on going. You will be great!