Saturday, 12 April 2008

Estetica Designer Bloggers Interviews

As per my last post Estetica Design Bloggers Q & A - the Interviews went ahead, and here is my interview with multi talented multimedia designer Aaron Russell over at www.aaronrussell.co.uk.

I sent my interview questions over to Aaron Thursday evening and he came back with these great in depth answers for me, thanks Aaron;

You pretty much cover all the bases with your services, what inspired you to get into the creative industry in the first place?

A few years ago I had a job in marketing where I spent the vast majority of my time producing print based marketing materials, brochures, magazines and that kind of thing. I really enjoyed the creative element of the job and every day I was working alongside designers from various agencies. It soon became clear to me that I wanted to work on 'the other side' - be the designer - so I retrained and made it happen.

On your blog you say you've been doing websites for quite some time, what made you move into the graphic design too?

I taught myself HTML in 1997, but at this point it was nothing more than a geeky hobby - I certainly couldn't 'design'. When I retrained I studied Multimedia Design which by its nature is diverse and covers many design-based disciplines. I think the design industry crosses over with itself a lot and once you have learnt the fundamentals of design you can apply that knowledge to many different niches of design. I've had a lot of experience producing print-based projects so it makes sense that I offer that experience to my clients now.

Your portfolio is pretty impressive, what is it you find most self gratifying about the web work, the development, the design or just seeing another piece of good work role out?

I love the diversity of what I do. I recently have completed a Facebook application which was a very technical job. Learning how to use the Facebook API presented a very steep learning curve, and for a solid week I did nothing but look at code. After wrapping that job up my next job was a 12 page glossy brochure - no code involved. I get to get my notepad out and scribble little sketches, spend hours playing with colours and images, and be very creative.

You got yourself into what sounds like a pretty high brow brand and marketing job, you must have been there a while to get to that position - did you enjoy your time there?

I worked for three years in that role and I absolutely thoroughly loved it. Before I started that role I would never use those words to describe any job I had - at the time in my early twenties I didn't really know what I wanted to do for a living or what kind of job I wanted. I actually stumbled into marketing by luck more than anything else, but three years later I had retrained, knew exactly what I wanted to do and was set on the path that has taken me to where I am today.

What was your motivation in choosing to go the freelance route?

It's always been a dream of mine to work for myself and support myself. I still take on short-term permanent contracts to subsidise my freelance activities - effectively working two jobs at once, but my aim is to take the plunge as a full time freelancer before I'm 30. Which doesn't give me long, but I'm on track.

How are you finding the transition, any major setbacks?

No setbacks as such, but I do find the work-flow can be very much boom or bust. Typically I'll have more jobs on than I can handle for a couple of months and be working every hour that God gives me, then the next month I'll be sat around scratching my head wondering where all the work is.

If you were advising a colleague, what tips would you give in building up a client base?

Networking, friends, families and referrals. The vast majority of freelance jobs that I take on are the result of someone I know telling someone else about me, or a previous client referring me.

You must have difficult client stories, care to share any?

If you advertise your services online via your website, you are opening yourself up to enquiries from all sorts of weird and wonderful people from all four corners of the globe. People who want you to work for free, people who want you to complete unrealistically complex projects for a hundred dollars, scammers , or just nutters. When you are starting out as a freelancer it can be tempting to treat every enquiry as a serious potential job but this will eventually result in horror stories. Over time you learn to spot which enquiries are worth a polite "thanks but no thanks".

What was behind your decision to become a blogger?

I first started blogging in February 2007, more out of a geeky curiosity of what it was all about than anything else. I soon realised that it is a fantastic way to network with other designers, learn from others and share what you have learnt, build and develop your online profile and 'authority', and ultimately promote your freelance activities.

When it comes to blowing off steam, what's your sure fire way of giving yourself some "off time"?

When I was a bit younger I used to be a DJ and so I still have a deep passion for music. These days though I've traded in being young and trendy for being a workaholic. I don't really have "off time". I do like to get away every now and again though and take frequent holidays with my girlfriend.

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