Photo credit: Woldgang-Hasselmann

My season of transition will likely be as long as the winter, six months to be precise. Or at the end of March. Whichever comes first. It’s the boundary of time I have set for myself.

Transitioning can be scary and unpredictable. It means shaping a new role for myself and creating a new way to organize my day.

For the past 25 years, I bounced between being a graphic designer, art director, writer, collaborator, and project manager on any given day. All project work for clients. It has been a good ride. After a couple of bumpy first years figuring out the ins-and-outs of running a freelance business, weeding out bad clients for some pretty awesome long-term clients, and building up skillsets that serve me well, things have shifted inside.

Blame it on Covid-19. Blame it on the big 6-0 just around the corner. Periods of self-isolation can be revealing. It’s a chance to do some serious soul-searching without interruption, minus the navel-gazing we are all prone to do.

Even before the pandemic, I have had this nagging knot in my belly. “I no longer want to work for clients,“ it says repeatedly. Not that I am leaving the graphic design world altogether. It’s how I want to work in that world that will be different.

When I was 5-years old, I confidently announced that I am an artist. That has never wavered. But when you are running a business to support yourself, your true self can get buried. There have been only weekends and off days when I could nurture myself as an artist.

So blame it on Covid-19, turning the big 6-0, or the nagging knot in my belly. I just had to make the transition from working for clients to working for myself full-time as an artist. Graphic design will likely be just another medium I use along with watercolors, pencils, printmaking, and bookmaking.

Photo credit: Utopia by Cho 

This idea got me thinking. If I am no longer working for clients as a graphic designer, could I still collaborate with others on projects as a graphic designer and get compensated for it monetarily? Does this model without the client exist? Are there any real-life success stories of such collaborations?

The great thing about being a freelance graphic designer is the collaboration with other creatives. As a visual artist, I am mainly working solo. Transitioning means finding out what sort of mix between collaboration, graphic design, and fine art will evolve going forward. Yes, it is scary. Unpredictable is how things spring up as I work to maintain focus. Yet the nagging knot in my belly is gone, a sign I am true to myself.

Your turn. Have you gone through a life-career transition? Are you going through a transformation right now? What did you learn about yourself in the process? I would love to hear your stories. If anyone can describe the graphic design in collaboration with the compensation scenario, I am all ears.

POSTSCRIPT: While I still identify as a graphic designer (and writer), I just won’t be taking on client projects. But you can find out more about me as an artist and my art at Terra Kind Studio. I will be opening an online art shop in May 2021!

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