5 Tips on pursuing a creative career

Posted by eloise
on 17 July 2023

I know how hard it is getting your foot in the door when you’re trying to bag yourself that first job in the creative industry. Whether you’re a student, graduate or a designer in your spare time, here are my top tips on getting building your creative career.

1. Top notch portfolio

Your portfolio should show an array of projects that you have produced. It is important that you include what is known as “Passion Projects”, these are self initiated projects, demonstrating the style, skill and area of design that you love most. Have a think about what your dream client or project is, come up with a name and direction and create it.

Need some inspiration? There are lots of great accounts and challenges on Instagram which share regular briefs to get you started! Take a look at Brief Club or Abi Connick’s Creative Glow Challenges for a starting point if you aren’t sure!

Potential employers will often have a large influx of graduates who enquire about work opportunities, and often the portfolios that they see have the exact same project briefs in their portfolios, with very few that have produced work outside of their university or college course. This is why it is valuable to show more work and projects that you genuinely feel passionate about.

You can present your portfolio in either a website, such as Squarespace, Behance, in a digital PDF or a good old fashioned print out.

Make sure to show your designs rolled out and applied in multiple ways, for example if you are showing a cafe brand design, don’t just use the logo in a business card mockup, also show how the brand itself would look when applied to a menu, shop front signage or a website page. If you need some images to bring it to life take a look at Unsplash and Pexels, where you can download and use thousands of high quality, royalty free images. You can also find an array of PSD mockups, free to use on Graphic Pear, Mr Mock Up, Mockups-Design.


2. Experience

It’s frustrating trying to gain real world experience, when employers ask for bags of experience to even be able to get through the door, and with working from home being common practice now, a lot of places are struggling to take on work placements.

However, doing a remote work placement or spending a couple of days a week in a studio is a great way to get some more experience under your belt.

Art Is My Career have collated a directory of some great local businesses that are open to taking on work experience students or offering their support, amongst lots of other great resources.

3. Freelancing

Another great way to build your portfolio and gain experience with real customers is to start freelancing. This doesn’t mean quitting your job to pursue a career straight away, these things take time. This can be a side project, taking on work for local small businesses, such as creating a logo for a local hair dresser or perhaps some social media posts for a bakery.

Some businesses may be able to take on a freelancer on an informal basis, doing some projects alongside them, where they require some extra help.

Understanding how to set up as freelancer is important, Art Is My Career offers an abundance of advice on this.

4. Portfolio Feedback

Even if businesses can’t offer you work experience time, you may be able to gain their advice and knowledge through mentoring and portfolio reviews. These are high in value and can really help to push you further in your career. There is no harm in asking!

5. Networking and events

There are some great events and social opportunities taking place in and around York that you should know about and take advantage of. As designers we often attend these, and so do many other creatives, from students to business owners or lecturers.

Some great local places to start are:

York Creatives “Creative Drinks” on the first Friday of the month, 6pm, at the studio space at the back of Spark*, tickets are £4.

York Creatives also host various talks and workshops, and their instagram is full of great events hosted around the city, so be sure to take a look.

Art Is My Career “Creative meet ups”, host regular meet ups for creatives in Selby. Keep an eye on their Instagram for upcoming dates!

Art is my Career is a fabulous initiative set up to help bridge the gap between education and a creative career. They offer an abundance of helpful resources, advice and information on their website and social channels.