This is my 8th podcast and interview with an independent graphic designer. In this episode I talk to Karen Mares, Karen McDade, about travelling, Photoshop, design, clients, websites and life!
Have laptop, iMac, Cintiq; will design
It’s probably misleading to describe Karen as a “travelling graphic designer”. But, as you’ll see from the interview, Karen has lived and worked in 4 different places in the last 7 years – Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa, Ireland and Gibraltar. And during this time she has successfully set up office, found clients and run her graphic design business for her existing clients without any interruption.
One of the familiar characteristics of the successful graphic designers I’ve been speaking to recently is that they all provide an exceptional product for their clients, which ensures repeat business. You can only go so far with marketing and web presence. Karen has consistently relied on the quality of her work to get more work. She does great work for one client who recommends her to the next client, and so on.
Working while travelling
She’s “taken” her original clients with her everywhere she’s been. She was working for her Jo’burg clients in Durban; took her Durban clients to Dublin; and now she’s in Gibraltar she’s working for clients in South Africa, Ireland, Britain and the US!
She picks up work wherever she is but picking up work from the host country hasn’t always been as easy. Karen described Ireland as a “tough nut to crack” in terms of getting work, until she realised that you have to get out and meet people (usually in the pub) in order to secure contracts.
She has also had her work used in Advanced Photoshop magazine on three separate occasions. She found being published in a high-profile industry magazine extremely validating and all this exposure leads to getting more and more work.
You can do it!
It’s clear from the interview that Karen finds herself in a blessed position. She is running a design business, working from home doing something that she loves to do.
Of course it helps to have a talent like Karen’s but she’d never received any formal training. She just sat down in front of Photoshop after she’d left college. What happened after that was a mixture of hard work, persistence, talent but, above all, a passion about what she does.
If you are passionate about your digital creations you could do a lot worse than to listen to the interview and get inspired! I was. 🙂