How I Became a Designer.

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I’ve now been designing for 10 years. The main 2 questions I get are “How did you begin designing?” and “Did you go to school for design?”. The truth of the matter is design was never my dream job. In high school, I played 4 instruments and decided I wanted to be a music engineer and editor. That’s where it all began. Awkward, I know, but read along and i’ll put all the pieces together LOL

My senior year of high school I enrolled in an interactive media course at a tech school to learn more about music engineering and editing. While in this course I was required to learn and master the entire Adobe suite, which of course included Photoshop and Illustrator. My first project ever using Photoshop was a resume design for myself styled to look like a magazine cover.

While I really enjoyed Photoshop and Illustrator, I still wasn’t quite convinced and went on to enroll at a University majoring in Broadcasting / Communications. In college, a good friend at the time introduced me to designing party flyers t make extra money on the side. Since I was already well versed in Photoshop I hopped on the opportunity and began designing flyers for 45 bucks a pop. From there, things began to rapidly grow and with my major still being broadcasting I accepted an internship with a local radio station. Once they found out I did design I was hired on at the station part time.

From there things really took off. Within 6 months I started a full time job as a designer for a major furniture company. However, I wasn’t really stimulated by the idea of working a 9-5 for life, and wanted more than what Oklahoma had to offer and moved to Dallas.

Although things started off a bit of a struggle, I worked 2 jobs and began freelancing. Within another 6 months I had built my clientele enough to quit both jobs and freelance full time. That’s pretty much it! I continued to learn by purchasing tons of design books and constantly doing research through watching tutorials. By hustling and consistently growing my skill, I’ve been able to make a living as a freelance designer for the past 8 years.

Even though I jumped into freelance design not knowing a lot about the business, through years of trial and error I have had the opportunity to learn ALOT. Being a freelance designer you must be able to be disciplined and open to change, willing to accept challenges and work long hours. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change any of my experiences for the world. I’m also very grateful for everything and for the people that have supported me and given me the opportunity to work with them to grow their business.

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1 Response
  • Trenton Smith
    October 23, 2015

    As a former broadcast journalism major, Jonnell Chavez your story hit very close to home. I struggled in the field of journalism for years in Oklahoma and after college, I had an internship but nothing that panned out to a career. Like yourself, I became frustrated then moved to Dallas for a year but the difference is I returned. About a year ago, I begin interviewing black artists; editing and uploading video footage to gather content for my up and coming digital publication CLEVERWURLD! So I applaud your passion and work ethic. It is certainly inspirational and impressive! I love how you took the initiative and trained yourself in graphic design. I’m sure it wasn’t easy but it’s possible. Again, I want to thank you for being an inspiration.