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Working for yourself as a graphic designer

BA (Hons) Graphic Communication graduate Kathryn Roberts tells us more about releasing her first book - Working for yourself as a graphic designer - and shares her top tips for anyone thinking about joining the course, or looking to get into the industry. 

Working for yourself as a graphic designer primary- kathryn roberts- book cover

What inspired you to write ‘Working for yourself as a graphic designer’?

To be honest, the real inspiration came from writing my dissertation at uni, which was titled ‘Working for yourself as a graphic design graduate’ – so you can see the connection. Don’t get me wrong though, I am NOT by any means a big reader or writer and I found the dissertation process very stressful and exhausting. However, my passion for my freelance business, KARD Graphic Design, which I started up in second year, overpowered any lack of enthusiasm and I enjoyed the challenge and enjoyed the idea of helping people in my position!

Can you tell us a little bit about the process from having the idea for the book to getting it published on Amazon?

I actually got the idea to write a book whilst at The Business Show in London with my mum last year. We were watching a talk on how to publish your own book, which led us to sign up to a mentorship program and start the book writing process! The process from start to finish took around a year - I started writing around the end of June 2019 and the book was officially published on Amazon on 13 May 2020. In terms of having the idea, I pretty much knew straight away what I wanted to write about – what better business card is there to give people than a published book with your name on it?! The book also became a best seller on Amazon in the first week of publishing!! If anyone is interested in writing or publishing a book, I highly recommend doing it properly and getting a mentor who knows what they are talking about, I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone!

What can people expect to learn from your book?

I wrote the book to basically give people all of the advice, hints and tips that I needed when I was starting up as a freelancer. I learnt a lot of things about business and people the hard way, so I wrote the book as a sort of "fast forward button" for the people reading it. Also, I wrote the book obviously as a graphic designer and for graphic designers, but I also tried to generalise as much of the content as possible, so that it can apply to ANYONE wanting to start up ANY kind of business. Although the main point of the book is to help budding freelancers, I would also honestly recommend reading it even if you’re not planning on being freelance. I have included lots of content from experience in a design studio setting, as I am a big believer in getting as much knowledge and work experience as possible, especially in the first years after university.

Kathryn Roberts- working for yourself as a graphic designer blogCan you tell us a bit about your career since graduating and what you’re up to now?

So, in my final year I was manically looking for jobs just about everywhere and I was lucky enough to land myself a six-month design and marketing internship in Stuttgart, Germany pretty much immediately after graduation. Those six months in Stuttgart made me fall in love with the country and I’m now about to start another new job in a design and packaging company called Roman Klis Design, based in Herrenberg, which I am very excited about! As well as this I have been continuing with my freelance business, KARD Graphic Design, and building up contacts and coverage for my book. This has included creating content videos for YouTube and other marketing strategies for social media, so I’ve been pretty busy!

Did your course prepare you for your career?

I studied on the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course and absolutely loved it. It gave me so much confidence and motivation to prepare me for my career. I found that the course and tutors constantly encouraged me to push myself out of my comfort zone which I really needed. I learnt so much about myself at uni and I acquired so many skills and contacts that I’m pretty certain I would not have gotten without going to uni, so overall, I am so pleased with my experience.

What did you enjoy most about your time on your course?

I loved the freedom to be able to do whatever I wanted and take whichever route I felt confident enough to pursue, but I also loved the support from the tutors and other students and the encouragement to go out of my comfort zone. This involved having opportunities to work on live client briefs, visit studios and collaborate with people both in and out of university. It’s so important to get these experiences at university as they help give you that boost into life after graduation.

What advice would you give to a student thinking about studying Graphic Communication at BCU?

DO IT! I cannot recommend it enough; I know for a fact I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had so far without having gone to BCU. There is a fantastic and supportive network of tutors that want to see you succeed. The course is very well structured, and Birmingham is such an amazing and creative city to study such a creative course!

What tips would you give to students looking to get into the Graphic Communication industry?

Well, I don’t want to give TOO much away as my book contains a lot of advice on this and I would not be doing my marketing right if I just gave it away like that, but I regularly update my social media and YouTube channel with fresh hints and tips about the graphics industry which you can follow for free. That being said, my main tip would be to get yourself known in the industry. Be loud and proud (this doesn’t necessarily mean physically loud) - let your passion and voice show through your work and show how keen you are to make sure people see that work!

You can find out more about Kathryn's book here and catch her on her social media accounts:

Facebook: KARD Graphic Design
Instagram: _kardesign_
YouTube: KARD Graphic Design or Kathryn Roberts
LinkedIn: Kathryn Roberts