1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
Growing up I was that kid that loved art. I loved to make things, loved drawing and was interested in animation too. I used to win a lot of art competitions, and even had my drawings on TV a few times. Because of this I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something creative with my life… it was a passion, but it also felt like the only thing I was good at.
I didn’t know I wanted to be a graphic designer though. Instead I somewhat fell into a position where I became a graphic designer.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
I didn’t go to university, which is how most people start out. This wasn’t out of choice though.
I’m the youngest of a fairly big family – the youngest of ten in fact (it’s complicated). None of my brothers and sisters went to university, and my parents were also retired and were not in the position to fund studies. Because of this my parents were keen for me to start work as soon as I could.
I remember getting careers advice when I was 18, and was actually told I could not become a designer without formal qualifications. My college tutors even encouraged me to go onto further education. I did feel like it was an impossible dream. I felt I needed to forget about wanting to be a designer.
This has to be one of the biggest hurdles right? But I still became a designer.
After doing A levels in Art and Design Technology I went in search of a ‘creative’ job. I was open to anything, and found a job as a trainee print finisher. My job was to take printed artwork, then use a number of encapsulation machines and materials to turn these into full-scale exhibition graphics.
It was in this job that I was first exposed to graphic designers. It was a small company, with only six employees. Two designers, two print finishers and two owners. I recall watching with fascination the designers work on artwork. I think all they were doing was removing small imperfections in photos before printing them, but I found it amazing, and felt that’s what I wanted to do.
I struggled as a print finisher. I found it hard to cut things to the perfection they required, and found it very labor intensive too. After a fairly bad motorcycle accent, which made it hard to commute, I made the decision to leave to get the first job I could find… any job…
I was able to get an interview to work in a warehouse where a friend worked which was a short walk from my parents house. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was a job.
Being a fairly large company I had my interview with one of the company directors where I briefly mentioned that I would like to one-day work in design. That turned out to be a good thing, as after a few months they offered me an admin based role that required a small amount of design.
At this time I had no previous design experience. I had never touched a mac, or any design software. I was given some basic guidance, but found through trial and error how I could design a leaflet. Being really excited about the opportunity I spent almost all my free time finding and watching tutorial videos, so I could improve my work.
As I was fairly poor at the admin side of things, and terrible on the phone (I was super shy) I was given all the design related tasks, so was able to experiment and learn on the job.
That job evolved into a graphic design position where I was designing literature, doing illustrations, photography, animations and videos. I then moved on to a job at a design agency where I was able to design for a range of different businesses. In this company I became Design Director, and have been able to work with some very big companies.
Here today that job is part time. I run my own freelance logo design business the rest of the time.
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Google. Clients find me by searching ‘logo design’ or ‘logo designers’.
I’ve got a strong interest in online marketing, and have been able to learn a lot in the agency I work for. Thanks to this, and my slight addiction to learning every day, I’ve been able to optimise my website for search terms that convert to sales.
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
Here today I’m mostly interested in only working on logo design, so don’t get huge amounts of repeat business
I do however offer additional design services such as stationery, and often refer website design projects to others where I can make a commission. This is something I discuss once the logo is complete, which often means I get further design work from the client.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
I take 50% up-front, and the final 50% before I send the final files.
On occasion I’ve trusted the client and sent the files before payment has been made, but I have found in every occasion I’ve done this that the payment has taken a long time to be made.
Because of this I’ve made it compulsory that files are sent only once the final payment has been made – this ensures payment comes through immediately.
6. What does your typical work day look like?
Three days a week I work at a web design agency as Creative Director. On these days I’m in the office at 9am. I start by checking emails, then plan my day so I know what jobs MUST be done that day. Although the company has a project management platform I prefer to write down all my tasks, so simply highlight the most urgent tasks – this means I can focus on the most urgent tasks, and don’t feel overwhelmed.
I split my day into two parts. I try to clear out the small jobs first. Then after lunch I’ll focus on a larger project. I work with a number of account managers, and also manage a small team so I might need to jump on a call, do a rush job, or answer a question, but I try to keep my day as organised as I can.
During the rest of the week I’m working on my logo design business, Logo Geek. I tend to book in just one project a week – on Thursdays I try to do as much idea generation as I can so I have a number of very solid ideas. On the Friday I will then develop these ideas into final artwork, and prepare a presentation. If needed, I have the weekend to refine and improve these designs.
As part of my business I’m also managing a few social media accounts, so post to these, and also have a Facebook Group where I aim to post and interact with the community for at least thirty minutes throughout the day.
At the moment I’m also mixing things up – rather than doing just design projects I’m recording a podcast series. So I’m spending my time speaking, recording and editing.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?
Based on my experience, I’ve found that you need to just show your work – no matter if you like what you’ve done or not.
Even if you don’t think it’s perfect, someone will see potential and will find opportunities for you. My website has never been perfect, and is still far from it, but because it’s out there and people can find it, they’ll ask me to do work for them. Showing something is better than showing nothing…
You also need to show the type of work you want. I can actually design almost anything, and have worked on things like movie posters, computer games, websites, exhibition graphics and even video, but people who find me believe I only design logos (even friends and family who know what I’m able to), so that’s the type of work I get.
Based on this, if you want to do a specific style or area of design and have no prior experience, create a fictional project for yourself so you can show people, and attract the type of work you want.
Ian Paget, also known as Logo Geek, is a UK based graphic designer located in Manchester, who specialises in logo and brand identity design. He works with inspiring entrepreneurs and businesses looking to take their brand identity to the next level.