Careers in Graphic Design

I get inquiries from people nearly every day asking if I’m hiring and rather than have people waste their time sending me their resume, I figured it would be simpler just to post this page explaining that I’m just an independent freelance designer and I’m not looking to expand my business anytime soon. I know that as soon as I hire additional designers I’ll end up being just a manager. Been there, done that, and I’m much happier just being a designer!

I understand what it’s like trying to become a designer; it’s a hard business to break into and no matter how much you want to be a designer the only thing that matters to prospective employers is how good you are. I can’t offer you a job but I can offer you some advice based on this designer’s real life experience. Most of the mistakes I see people make are the same mistakes I made when I was starting out. Perhaps you can avoid some of them by reading through this page.

Tips for aspiring Designers

You’ve got to do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. Get a job to pay the bills and do design in your off hours until you build up a body of professional work. If your portfolio is filled with stuff you did in art class you need to get busy and do some real work for real people; if they won’t pay you for your work, then give it away. The experience is payment enough and you’ll build a body of work to present to prospective employers.

Volunteer your design services; being a volunteer for a worthy cause looks great on a resume and it will give you real design experience and help you network.

I’ve also found that good employers seek out good employees and if you care enough about something to give your time to it, that will bode well with companies that have a social conscience.

If you get an interview remember that employers don’t really care what your goals are; they care about what you can do for them. New employees cost a lot of money, are you worth the investment?

Be nice to everybody, especially the people that take the time to critique your work or give you advice. They are doing you a tremendous favor so don’t take it for granted.

Emails aren’t worth the paper they aren’t written on so don’t expect any real results from shot-gunning your resume via email to 100′s of businesses. If you want someone to notice you then send them a real letter, and if you “really” want to get noticed send it FedEx; you may not get the job but you will be noticed and possibly remembered when a job or internship does open up.

Customize your resume and cover letter for the job you are applying for. Play up those aspects or skills that fit the position advertised. Employers are looking for the person that is the perfect fit for the job advertised so don’t give them a reason to dismiss you from consideration. If you’re applying for a position as graphic designer don’t state that your goal in life is to be a helicopter pilot.

Put your portfolio on the web and build the web site yourself; especially if you’re trying to get a job as a web designer. I’m always amazed when somebody sends me an email telling me they want to be a web designer and they don’t even have a web site. Why would anybody pay you to do something for them that you wouldn’t even do for yourself?

Remove that drawing of your cat from your portfolio; nobody is going to hire you because you can draw a cat. It’s called commercial art because it is about commerce and if your work doesn’t sell something it isn’t worth anything to an employer. While you’re at it you might want to lose some of those mockup CD cover designs you did in college; the last time I checked there weren’t many jobs in the classifieds for CD cover designers. You need to fill your portfolio with the type of work that there is a market for.

Don’t waste your time or that of prospective employers applying for jobs you know you aren’t qualified for; it’s annoying and absolutely nobody gets a job as an Art Director straight out of college.

Don’t take it personally when somebody rejects your work because it’s never personal its business and business is about money. I know it’s hard not to invest yourself into your work, okay it’s impossible if you’re passionate about what you do but just don’t let your ego get in the way of taking honest criticism. You absolutely have to have a thick skin in this business because no matter how good your work is it may not be right for the customer. Accept rejection for what it is, an opinion, and everybody’s got one of those.

Don’t give up; it takes time to get good at design and it takes time to make any money as a designer. By all means though if you aren’t any good at this or you were one of the worst in your class you might want to try something else. Also if you actually want to make a lot of money you should probably find another career because nobody in their right mind would go into design for the money.

I could be wrong… what’s worked for me might not work for you and what hasn’t worked for me might actually work for someone else. I’ve been at this for over twenty years though and I’ve paid my dues. I’ve heard “no” more times than I can remember and I’ve also applied for more jobs than I can count; so the tips I offer are based on my own experiences. One thing I know is that experience, the good and the bad is what helps you grow as a designer and as a person. Good Luck!!

Accolades for ImageCo

Cool Springz Trampoline Park

Tim, I had a marketing person come in last week, someone who has many years of experience, who told me my logo is awesome (I agree). It's vibrant, happy, bold and fun. (I agree) You are very talented and thank you for sharing your talent with me. My best wishes to you as this year wraps up and we head into a new one!

Tamara Portnoy
Cool Springz Trampoline Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Veda Communications - Logo Design

The best thing about working with Tim is that he immediately grasps all the subtleties of a logo design – the feeling, the client image, the color, the shape, the ease of use in different print or web conditions – and then he easily and quickly translates that into an outstanding piece of art that works on many levels. He gets it, and that makes working with him a pleasure.

Mike Neer/Owner
Veda Communications Co.
Fresno, California

FSAok - Logo Design

We had been working with another logo design firm, but after two frustrating weeks we gave up on them and decided to look elsewhere. With a rapidly approaching deadline we hired Tim. He made our project a priority and managed to create a logo design that our team liked in just a few days. Tim was great! With some - slight - modifications to his original logo design we were ready to go. His logo design was fantastic and it captured the 'personality' of our product on his first try. We would definitely hire Tim again!

Fred Hawkins/CEO
Villanova, Pennsylvania

800PhoneUSA - Logo and Web Design

Tim created the perfect logo design for us and I feel fortunate that we found him. Not only is he an honest, ethical and a straight-arrow businessman, he was a total pleasure to work with. We worked with some other logo designers on this but didn't like any of the logo designs they came up with. We ended up going with Tim's very first presentation and couldn't be happier. We liked his work on the logo design so much that we also had him do our website! We love that too.

Chris Heidkamp/Owner
Phoenix, Arizona

OEMpanels - Web Design

I originally stumbled upon ImageCo's website by mistyping the address of the design firm we were presently working with. I immediately liked what I saw and asked ImageCo to review our new website. His comments reflected my thoughts exactly so I hired him and never looked back. Tim's keen design sense and insight into effective web design sets him apart from most designers. Over the years I've relied on Tim for all of our graphics needs, including web design and user interface design. Tim's design work has not only helped our company look more professional but it's also helped us to attract the "right" customers to our website. Thanks Tim!

Bob Lambert/President
Newport News Virginia

Columbus Advertising

The first time I worked with Tim, I was looking for someone to design a client's site. As head of a small advertising agency, I had a client with strong ideas of what they wanted. Tim did an exceptional job of interpreting their needs and created a site that is pleasing to visit and highly functional. I have worked with Tim on subsequent projects, primarily because he possesses a great sense of which concepts will work and the tact to explain why others won't.

Peter Columbus/President
Columbus Advertising
Torrance, California

eCareerCenter - Web Design, Content Development

ImageCo was just what I needed when I started my internet business, eCareerCenter. I was not really sure of how I wanted to present my new company and Tim really helped me focus my thoughts into short and long term goals. I had a certain style I was trying to portray and ImageCo really helped create it for me in a way that was different than what was already out there. As I look back on my first website launch, I am thrilled at how it turned out. I remember one part of the design process, I was trying to find pictures for my "Tour" section. Tim mentioned he had just what I needed. I am a bit of a control freak and was not sure how they were going to look. When I saw which ones were selected and how he designed the section, I knew I selected the right designer for my project.

Jeff Fleming/Managing Director
Scottsdale Arizona

Arctic Skye Family Practice

When I opened my new medical practice, I wanted a logo design to reflect not only my clinic's name, but also our Alaskan location. Tim took the time to learn what my clinic was like and what I wanted in a logo design. My new logo design reflects his skill and the time he took to understand what I needed. I enjoyed working with Tim in the design process, and hope to work with him again in the future.

Rebecca White M.D.
Arctic Skye Family Practice
MatSu Valley Alaska

Duke University - Logo Design

Tim has been a real pleasure to work with on the logo design for my TechXcite program. He provided several initial logo designs that my team and I considered. Then, through a series of iterations we arrived at the final logo design, which we are very happy with.

Tim was not only patient with this process, but he provided positive energy that kept the process productive. I would absolutely recommend him enthusiastically."

Gary Ybarra
Duke University
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Raleigh, NC

BodyQuest Pilates - Logo Design

"Tim at ImageCo was fantastic to work with!
His creative logo design has given me the flexibility to market my business in various capacities. I would certainly consult with Tim on future projects."

Mirea Pineda/Owner
BodyQuest Pilates
Phoenix, Arizona

Digital Eye Research - Logo Design

I looked at many different logo design firms before choosing ImageCo and ImageCo is by far the best. Tim at ImageCo helped us create a clean, cool, hip image for our company. He nailed it dead on! After working with Tim I would recommend his company to anyone looking for great design work at a great price. ImageCo understands branding in today’s competitive marketplace and we at Digital Eye Research will use ImageCo for all of our future branding needs.

Tony Galeassi/President
Digital Eye Research
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Shades Unlimited - Logo and Web Design

We came to Tim Garner to help guide us through the process of creating a new logo and website for our custom window treatment company. We couldn't have been happier with our experience. The result is a design and writing that possess clarity, simplicity, and beauty. Tim's assets are many, but his work embodies a rare combination of technical ability and artistic sensibility.

Sal Deluca
Shades Unlimited
Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania

dad-lucy-aidan-1024x390ImageCo is the online portfolio of Tim Garner; I’ve been a commercial artist for over 25 years and I help businesses and individuals throughout the US and Canada sell their products, their services, and their ideas. I was born in the Southwest, raised in the Midwest, lived in the South for a bit and now call the Northwest home. I’m a fine artist by training, a graphic designer by choice and I’ve designed everything from billboards to business cards. In my spare time I feed a passion for photography, art and writing. Check out my other creative work at