1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?

I was several years into adult life before pursuing design. First, I dropped out of college. Then spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. It was my second attempt at college, within a focused design curriculum, where I got excited about the possibilities of a design career.

2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?

My first job, while still in design school, was with a family-owned screen printing company called Solid Light who’s history included Roach t-shirts. Roach’s culture (and content) was hot rods, flames, pin stripes and monsters with wagging tongues—all of that a tremendous influence on my art as a kid (and now).

My biggest hurdle was fear, specifically being afraid to ask questions, to listen and learn. 20 years later, I fight that fear, grateful that every day is a chance to learn something new.

3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?

Since starting Menges Design two years ago, every project has arrived by word-of-mouth and from references to design that’s posted to the Menges.design site or social channels. Having clients who say, “I saw that design on your site—can you do something like that for us?” reinforces the saying, “Show the work you want to be hired for.”

4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?

Have a servant heart toward clients. And define expectations, delivering those expectations on time. How do I know? Because I’ve failed at being on time and know first hand that it means a lost opportunity for repeat work. After that failure early in the studio’s first year, I sought counsel for how to shore up every part of the operation, and now see objective, external counsel as an integral, planned part of the business.

5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?

Thankfully, late payments haven’t been a problem since Menges Design started. I hope it has to do with setting clear expectations, which include 50% of fees up front. And 2018 will implement interval-based payments for any project longer than one month.

6. What does your typical work day look like?

Nothing is typical. But I do have some patterns that work. For example, mornings are sacred for billable design time. Afternoons are open to meetings, calls and tasks like billing, proposals, and email.

7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?

Don’t settle for being a voyeuristic zombie, drooling over devices, quietly desperate for inspiration. Get inspired by real life and real experiences, locally and globally. Risk—easily deferred by a thousand excuses—can be incredibly rewarding.

Dylan Menges runs Menges Design. They specialise in helping brands unleash their unique character through handcrafted design. You can connect with Dylan on Twitter and Instagram.