Seattle Area Graphic Designer On Doing What He Loves and Digging the Freelance Life



They say 'doing what you love' means never working a day in your life. For Gavin the Graphic Designer, this dream is a reality worth fighting for.

Gavin has been an artist for as long as he can remember, even before he knew what an artist was. In grade school he was always that guy, the one who designed the logo for the robotics club t-shirt or the show poster for the drama group’s next performance. He didn’t major in art in college … but he did develop posters and social media for Phi Beta Kappa and the Computer Science Club. And somewhere along the way he realized that his hobby could be more than a hobby. After school he worked at a print shop. Then, one of the print shop’s customers hired him as their in-house graphic designer. But working for one company doing pretty much the same thing over and over got boring after a while. So Gavin went solo, seeking out clients through Craigslist – and then

“I first found MyPeopleNow on Craigslist, and noticed that several parts of the site were broken,” he says. “So I sent them a quick email letting them know, and before I knew it I was working on the site. I’ve made some illustrative graphics and UI stuff so far, and lots of mockups for their redesign.”

What is Gavin’s idea of a graphic designer? “Someone who can convey information visually in a concise way,” he says. And unlike many artists, his idea of graphic design is as much an intellectual as a visual enterprise. “I like the challenge of trying to solve someone’s problem visually. A good graphic designer has to find a way to fit everything their client wants to communicate into a picture that someone might look at for no more than five or ten seconds.”

Most important to his process is communication. “The client always has to be closely involved,” he says. “I’ll create some initial sketches, several designs that offer different ways to communicate their idea. Then we go through a feedback loop – they tell me what works and what doesn’t, and I adjust accordingly. I’m not finished until the client is happy.”

Not many people are fortunate enough to make a living doing what they love. Gavin is almost one of them. “An artist is all I’ve ever wanted to be,” he says. “So doing this professionally is a dream come true. And it’s close to being a sustainable business. Close-ish. In five years I’ll be there.”