Last weekend, I suddenly flashed back to the early days of my graphic design journey when my phone rang.
On the other end of the line was a teacher named Jason that I’d met 15 years ago. Jason taught at the art school I’d long dreamed of attending but didn’t have the budget for.
Instead of attending that school, I went straight to community college and later earned a degree in business.
At 25 years old, once I’d finally figured out my true calling, I had very little time (and one student loan already under my belt) so I enrolled in a two year graphic design program at the same community college I’d started at.
At the same time, my younger brother had also decided to be a graphic designer and enrolled in that fancy art school I’d always dreamed of attending. Soon after, he introduced me to his teacher, Jason.
Jason saw my portfolio, learned that I was already carving out a living with freelance work and pitched an idea: would I be interested in a guest teaching spot that introduced his students to the world of freelancing?
The irony wasn’t lost on me — the same school I couldn’t afford to attend was now cutting me a check to teach their students how to be successful freelancers!
The teaching gig went well and over the next 10 years, I continued on my path to launching Branch, partnering with hundreds of small business clients and moving to Palm Springs.
The truth is, the lack of a noteworthy school being stamped on my diploma has never held me back when I applied to internships, freelanced at Nike and later went on to found a studio of my own.
If anything, it fueled me to work even harder knowing that if I wanted to get in the door or land a dream client, I’d have to do it based on my portfolio and track record.
I’ve talked to so many graphic designers over the last few years who secretly felt like they didn’t measure up in some way.
If you’ve ever felt this way, I want remind you that while qualifications, degrees and connections are nice to have, a strong portfolio, unparalleled work ethic and good manners will take you even further.
Color outside of the lines as much as you’d like. Your circumstances have the power to become the foundation of your unique story.