In 2009, I finally finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and was able to get a double concentration in Photography and Graphic Design. I had the paper, but making my freelance dream a reality still seemed to far away.
No one in Florida would hire me. My portfolio was limited and my style weirdly psychedelic. My skills weren't fully tested yet, and I didn't have enough quality projects under my belt to be taken seriously in the workforce.
After a year of flailing around at home, working at the mall, I got the opportunity to move to New Jersey with a friend of mine who had shown interest in working with me as a freelance partner. I couldn't have been more excited - FINALLY! A chance to get out of Florida AND follow my dream of working remotely as a freelancer!
Of course, not having real world experience, I was in for failure at every turn. There's only so much you can do to win clients in a competitive field, with no portfolio, and limited connections.
She blamed me. I blamed her. We both blamed the economy.
Instead of running back to Florida with my tail between my legs, I started applying for jobs like my life depended on it. 2 months of interviews later, and I found myself in the corporate world, designing Flash banners, and living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
It was such a cushy job. I eventually got to design and illustrate game characters. It really should have been a dream come true.
But I found myself lacking inspiration at work and designing for an audience that I didn't feel connected to in the slightest. I became a designer to be my own boss and work with clients who inspire me, not sit locked away in an office, hoping for more time off.
My 3 years working a 9-5 didn't exactly challenge me creatively, but what it gave me was time. Enough time to build my network, take on a freelance client here or there, practice CSS, and perfect my Photoshop skills.