Industrial Designer-Freelancer? Is that possible?

Can an industrial designer work as a freelancer just like an artist?
Is it possible for an architect, a product designer or anyone in the design industry to work alone, sort of like working for ourselves alone and not for others? :frowning: I do believe an inventor always works alone but is that viable and can someone make a proper living working alone as an industrial designer or must he be attached to a company working for someone else?

It would be possible for an artist to work alone but an industrial designer will always have to work closely with the engineer and those involved in the design and manufacturing stage. But can an industrial designer still be independent and not be the one to line up to receive his paycheck from his boss? :confused:

I saw this article in the web site…and for me it’s a really good question…
Franco Cagnina

i thought you were joking at first.
You have never heard of a freelance designer?

Quick answer - it depends on your abilities as a designer and how big your rolodex is.

Sorry, but i’m not joking…I know a lot of freelance designers…
My idea is understand the process of freelance, what we have to do as a freelancer? we have to develop all the project? just the draft, 3D, concept evolution, etc?

I hope you understand what it’s my idea…and sorry for my english, I’m not so good writing in english.


Absolutely, plenty of people do it. You have to be willing to live with uncertainty. Don’t start off like that though, you’ll starve to death to quickly. Work inhouse for a few years someplace, learn and make mistakes on someone elses dollar that can afford it. If you feel confident, then strike out on your own. Save up a nice bankroll first though, enough to live with no work for a year if you can, it’s a nice cushion to have.
You can freelance doing whatever it is you feel comfortable doing. I’ve been brought in on projects to just do brainstorming for a couple of days, other times to refine pre-existing forms and make 'em sing. Other times just for presentation help to meet a tight deadline, and sometimes from initial brainstorm all the way through to product samples. Advertise what you’re good at, you can be brought in or out on any phase of the project, that’s one of the good/bad points of freelancing. Good luck.

I’ve been doing it for 5 years now & had 5 years of experience prior to that in-house at a corporation & at a few large & small design firms.

As was previously mentioned, you do have to know quite a few people to get up and running. Projects are about as diverse as you can get. Some projects are 4 hours of sketching/ideation while others are long term from sketch to 3D model development. Everyone I work with has in-house marketing and engineering, so I work directly with them. So you’re never truly working “alone”.

The one thing I think has kept me afloat is working in both “mainstream” product developent AND the toy industry. If you han straddle a few different industries, it REALLY can broaden your client base.

I only have 2 clients that are actually in Chicago - the rest are all over the country (and 1 in China). If you communicate well via phone and email, it helps. Actually, I have a number of regular clients who I’ve never even spoken to on the PHONE let alone face-to-face. It’s kind of strange, but very cool that we live in an age where this is possible.

fifteen years ago it was much rarer, now it isn’t so uncommon.