Creative Talk with Sam Thompson
This month we talk with Sam Thompson who is an experienced senior level design freelancer, on why he turned to freelance, the pros and cons and his parting thought – be good.
Tell us about how you became a designer
I was really lucky to land a junior role in the design bureau of a large fashion company, working mostly on branding and retail.
Why freelance? Did you fall into it, or make a conscious decision to become a full-time freelancer?
Businesses can often get stuck in states of inaction and the ‘same-old’ ways of doing things, which is a problem I enjoy fixing. It’s hard to do this when you are full time, as someone who is fundamentally external to the team I can make bolder design decisions and challenge the status-quo in a productive manner.
Your work straddles print and digital very nicely – do you have a preference?
Thanks! I definitely prefer digital. Print is a beautiful way to preserve information, digital is best for the environment.
Do you have a favourite tool / app / design programme of choice?
Yes, Hype 3 by Tumult. The most underrated and under-utilised creative app existing today.
Is design part of your ‘non-working’ life?
Yes. I have an obsession with designing everything in my life.
What are the pros and cons of being a freelancer?
Pros; I feel very valued and appreciated by clients, I have complete freedom, no obligation or guilt from an awkward company culture, more money per hour than full time.
Cons; I’m under a lot of pressure to deliver the highest quality outcome possible, much more than any full-time role where people get away with making mistakes. I never have any certainty about work or exact income beyond a week or two; have to manage my own tax as well.
Are you quite picky with the assignments you will do?
Yes. Mostly because it’s important for me to be, otherwise situations can occur where I’m not the perfect fit for the assignment and they would be more satisfied with someone with a different skill set.
Have you had any disastrous moments?
One, when I was 19. It was a $500k multimedia pitch, delivered on dvd (yes kids, I’m that old). I made it as HD, not realising that it wouldn’t play on any standard dvd player. After months of work I discovered my mistake on the Friday afternoon before the Monday morning pitch. Freaked out slightly, then luckily managed figure it out and fixed it all over the weekend. Pitch was a success, crisis averted. Have never let anything like that happen since!
What about euphoric moments?
While there are the regular big money making high five moments I help make happen for clients, the thing that makes me really happy is the effect that my work has on the lives of people working for a brand day to day. When it looks bad, they look bad, they feel bad about it. Then I change that, they feel good, happy, proud, have more personal dignity and respect for themselves and from others. That happiness flows on to their family, friends, generally making their lives better. Sometimes I make that happen for thousands of people overnight. Of course they don’t know I even exist, but the effect it has is real. For every single one of those people. When I see what they do with it, promoting it, sharing it and how proud they are, it puts a little smile on my face.
What advice would you give to other designers thinking of making the move to full time freelance?
Be really good at what you do. Hold yourself to a very high standard of work. The client is always right. Always. You’re there to help them, not tell them they don’t know design as well as you think you do. If you can be fast, calm, respectful and have empathy for the client, you can enjoy the benefits and freedom of freelancing. It’s way better than full time.
The good are not argumentative, the argumentative are not good. Be good
If you would like to book a freelancer or considering becoming a freelancer – talk to us.
Email Louise@thecreativestore.co.nz or call (09) 365 1077Back to Creative Talk