I’ve been thinking on and off about the freelancing world, and some frustrations I’ve had with it. Hopefully this is not a rant, but I am curious to hear what others think.
On the boards here and on many other design websites, blogs, and discussion groups there are plenty of discussions about how to make a living on freelancing and what to charge, but seemingly little discussion on the idea itself.
In my design experience, you can do your best design work when you are able to “sink your teeth” into a project (at least, that’s how I work). In this way, the lessons and experience that you have over a month or a year can help inform your design. I’ve had it where I was able to design generation 2 of a certain project after designing generation 1 a couple of years earlier, and it really helped to have the background and knowledge from before.
Maybe I just like the idea of stable employment But beyond the stable pay and benefits, it can be very nice to be able to come into an office and work with your other designers and engineers on a daily basis. I had a recent freelance project that was mostly done remotely and I could see entire project decisions happening by email. In other words, a lot was happening without ID input. Sadly, this made my realize how small of a role ID had within this certain company, and how it seemed more like a “service,” like a remote asset you go to when you need renderings for the presentation in 3 days. In this case, ID was definitely second-class to the fulltime team (business, engineering).
I shouldn’t even mention how some companies will give a designer a contract-to-hire offer and have them work indefinitely as a freelancer, only to have the fulltime job never materialize.
I can totally see why some small companies might rely on freelance IDers, as they might not have enough consistent work to hire someone full-time. However, I’ve also seen a lot of medium and large companies hire freelancers. In one of my internship cases, it even seemed like the role of the fulltime ID was to manage a swarm of freelancers, so it was rare that the fulltime designers could actually sketch on a project themselves.
- Freelancing could be exciting if you can work on different projects or markets than you do normally.
- Using a freelancer (or even consultancy) could yield more “out of the box” ideas that an in-house team might not have thought of.
How many of you C77 designers are freelance-minded, and what are your thoughts on freelancing in ID? If you are a design manager, have you noticed any difference in design work quality between fulltime and freelance IDers?