Almost one year ago to the day I left my job. I worked as a recruiter at Creative Circle. I absolutely loved the role, my coworkers, my routine, and the fulfillment I felt as an independent young woman working in downtown Chicago with nothing holding me back. My husband and I were advancing in our careers and we had our first child on the way. Everything was going as planned, life was good! And then my water broke at 30 weeks pregnant (10 weeks early)… My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

Fast forward…my husband and I have a remarkable son who is healthy, happy and ready to take on the world. So much so, he got a 7 week head start! But having a premature baby (or a baby in general!) was hard and forced me to make an incredibly difficult decision, and that was to put my career on hold to focus on our baby and our family.

This is life, right? Beautifully unpredictable. Things happen that derail our plans, good and bad, and we adapt in remarkable ways.

I know I am not alone here. As a recruiter, I met with numerous candidates who were looking to get back into the workforce after taking a career “break”. Reasons were endless: pursuing personal interests, sabbatical, elder care, raising small children, unforeseen personal or family health issues, spousal job transfers, to name only a few.

To the candidates I interviewed, mentored, listened, and learned from, I get it. I’m not going to lie, these career “breaks” weren’t always an easy hurdle to overcome to our clients but I understand that searching for a job is never easy, especially after taking an unplanned “break.” Therefore, I want to share with you some of my job hunt ammo as I start looking for my next job!

1. Do your research. Be prepared.

The more you know about your potential new employer, the better off you will be. Hands down! Read the company’s website in full, learn more about the interviewer in any way you can. Follow their social media accounts, get up to speed on the company’s latest news, etc. This information will lead to talking points during your interview and will also exemplify your passion and excitement for the job you are going for.

In addition, think through how your previous experience applies to the job at hand. What would be most relevant to highlight to the hiring manager during your interview about yourself and experience? How do your skills and past experiences support the company’s short and long term goals?

2. Network and build relationships.

Don’t be shy, put yourself out there – people want to help! Attend industry events, join an association, schedule meetings or informational interviews, treat people to coffee or lunch, find a mentor or reconnect with previous employers and connections in your industry. You can also reach out to your local Creative Circle office to schedule an interview with a recruiter. Whatever you do, let it be known that you are on the job hunt.

3. Spruce up your presentation.

Resumes and portfolios are key in getting you to the next step. If you are getting back into the workforce after a career “break” and are worried about that gap in your resume, don’t fret, there a few different things you can do. First of all, don’t forget to include any sort of freelance work, consulting gigs, internships, or volunteer programs you did during your “break.” These activities are 100% viable, so make sure to list them under your professional experience. Include date of activity, location, brands worked on, responsibilities held, and accomplishments, just as you would a full time gig.

You can also experiment with the layout of your resume. There are functional resumes and chronological resumes. Although most employers and recruiters appreciate chronological resumes, depending on your experience and professional history, a functional resume might be the right choice for you. If the gap on your resume is large, you can include a very brief explanation (1-2 sentences) in a cover letter, application, or intro email explaining why you stepped away from your career for a period of time. It is also important to consult with your recruiter so they can help position and market you to various clients. Above all, be honest and own your career history, both on paper and in an interview. And, always be sure to express your excitement and enthusiasm about re-entering the workforce!

4. Be flexible. Keep an open mind.

You simply never know where life is going to take you. As a recruiter, it was not uncommon to see a two-day freelance job turn into a full-time position. So keeping an open mind and thinking “yes” instead of “I’m not sure about that” might lead you to places you might have never imagined.

5. Be honest with yourself and others.

Do some soul searching on what you are looking for at this point in your life – it could be the specific work, or the environment you seek to work in. Once you have a good idea as to what you want, do your best to communicate that to potential employers and recruiters so they can help you find it. Honesty is the best policy. Don’t hide or talk around the break in your career – be honest and prepared to share reasons as to why you stepped away from your work and how that particular time helped improve you as a person. It is likely that you have gained solid experience in non-traditional ways such as volunteering, running a household and family, traveling, etc. Be sure to mention these attributes you have gained to reinforce your worth.

6. It’s okay to be vulnerable.

Be transparent and genuine – real people appreciate real people. This can feel scary, but the truth is, when you’re vulnerable, people are more likely to trust you and engage more openly in return. Brene Brown says it best, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Talk about your job history, resume gaps, things you loved about jobs, challenges that taught you lessons and how to adapt. With confidence, use this outlet to share how you have grown as an individual and professional.

7. Get gritty. You are your own advocate.

Interviewing is hard work. You have to endure struggle, sometimes you fail and most of us have to try repeatedly until that ideal job comes around. This is grit. It’s not always the smartest, brightest, most intelligent people who succeed but more commonly the people with passion and perseverance. Remember to showcase discipline, maintain focus, and remain optimistic during your search. You’ve got to want it!

8. Embrace the conversation.

Dalai Lama once said, “When you talk, you are repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” It is important to remember that a job interview or networking event is simply a conversation. Therefore, be present and positive at all times. Listen, don’t interrupt, and most importantly, be yourself. It is critical to sell yourself and your skills, but make sure you are truly paying attention at the same time.

9. Say thank you.

Whether you are re-entering the workforce after a career “break” or not, don’t forget to say thank you. It is so easy to do! A quick email, or even better, a hand-written thank you note goes a long way. You never know who you will run into in the future, so always be kind, and never burn your bridges.

Learning from my own career “break,” I now know for certain that life is the greatest teacher and allows for a more mature perspective which I can only use to my advantage and in looking for my next job. It is precisely by the experience of the last year and a half that I am convinced my value as an employee will be all the greater. I truly believe that the right employer understands this dynamic and that some of the best candidates out there are the ones recharged and sharpened by life, ready to jump back into the work force with renewed vision, energy, and understanding.

Caitlin’s education and background is in Graphic Design. She connected with Creative Circle in 2010 as a candidate. After a couple of years freelancing through Creative Circle and with her own clients, she accepted a full-time job as a Creative Circle Recruiter. Caitlin currently works part-time for the company to help improve the overall candidate experience. Outside of work, Caitlin can be found chasing her toddler around, spending time with family, horseback riding, working on her fixer-upper home and enjoying the outdoors.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

After I graduated from college in 1993, I got an internship at an annual report firm. We were designing and producing spreads, by hand, onto boards. Our process included thumbnails, sketching, drawing a grid onto the board, ordering type over the phone, trimming out type galleys, hand-kerning type, waxing it down, and so on. You could say it was a lot of work and it took a long time.

our-notebook-mechanicalThis process was great, because you became intimate with the projects because you had your hands on them. You had to know your tools and type really well. Our office was not yet using computer software for design and production, so the task ended up on me to make the transition.

My boss taught me the fundamentals of the grid and typography well, but it was really up to me to figure out how to translate those skills to the computer. (I talk about my experience in this video.)

Remember, there was no YouTube at the time. There was no Google. If you wanted to learn software, you had to take classes in-person. So I learned Quark XPress 3.1 and Illustrator 88 in the Art Center at Night program.

There was a lot to figure out because I was trying to connect the abilities of the software to solving the actual problems I was facing during the day. I was taking what I learned in class and trying to figure out how to translate those tools for application at work.

And through this process I learned two lessons, which eventually influenced my teaching style today:

  1. It’s important to understand the fundamentals and how to apply them in the software. Tool training is, and should be, integrated into the learning process. I’ve taken classes where I was presented a problem with a goal in mind, but expected to figure out how to do it with little guidance. To often, educators don’t want to teach software, only theory. But teachers need to help with application and tool training. Sure, software tutorials can be found online and students need to be resourceful; but applying and handling type is a craft, much like playing music. For example, music teachers do not just hand over a sheet of music, share a recording of the song, and then expect a student to recreate it. Once the tool is learned, constant practice is needed. It takes finesse and feeling to make type sing.
  2. The mindset of design is very important. In my perpetual learning of design (and yes, to this day I’m still learning), it’s crucial to know the WHY, as well as the HOW. If one doesn’t understand why parts of the process is essential to the whole, then one won’t understand how to prioritize when things change. The mindset helps to apply, add new and change processes while maintaining integrity when there shifts in the field.

In my 22-year design career, I’ve seen typesetting houses come and go, photographers struggle in the popularity of stock photos, and print shops shift from to digital just to stay in the game. Be assured that there will be more shifts coming in the field of design. This is why I think we need to keep adjusting and updating our skills so we can handle whatever design challenge comes along.

What won’t change is how people naturally read and the psychology of how design communicates. Humans are visual. And that’s why the fundamentals are important.

How have you shifted your process over time? Please let me know by tweeting us @TypeEd. I’d like to hear where you came from and where you’re going. And if you know anyone who might be inspired by this, feel free to share!

Michael Stinson is a co-founder and lead instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Learn more about how to design for readers by signing up for TypeEd’s 7-day email course.

The art of freelancing is often a game of finding balance among a series of double-edged swords. One of the biggest of these is the freedom: so often creative work can be done whenever and wherever you choose. This is fantastic when it comes to scheduling travel, long walks to the park, and mid-day matinees, but it can pose a serious threat to those of us who at least occasionally struggle with procrastination (it’s all of us, right?).

Getting it right is a highly individualized issue, and requires an ongoing process of self-discovery. As someone relatively new to the self-employment game, I had some idea of how I best operate upon setting out. In my last full-time role, I worked from home about two days per week. I already knew that I get a surprisingly sizable boost in productivity when I sleep in an extra two hours. Then when I wake up, I open my laptop immediately and dig in. There’s no leisurely internet-surfing over coffee first, and I don’t leave the house for my lunch-hour jog until the day’s priorities have been sufficiently addressed. If I end up trailing off around 4:00 p.m. after having gotten a strong start, it’s totally fine.

If there is a universal piece of advice to offer on the subject, it’s probably that you should take advantage of an office environment whenever it’s an option. When you’re putting in 40-plus hours per week at a regular office, the breathing room you find in taking things home can be a huge relief. But when your standard is to have no standards—showers, clothing, and decorum all being optional behind closed doors—it can be equally refreshing to have somewhere to be by a certain time, and to remind oneself of the rather efficient organizational principles that define most people’s workdays.

It’s a bit of a side note, but I’m also beginning to believe that being in the same environment as the client you are doing creative work for can be fundamentally beneficial. Creative fields are defined by subjectivity, and the work of pleasing a client’s tastes can sometimes feel like a cross between method acting and blind guessing. The more you can breathe the same air, the more likely you are to find the right rhythm quickly. Additionally, the client has a little added peace of mind that you aren’t fudging around on your hourly rate (note that this arrangement may not always jive with product-fee based work when you don’t want to reveal how quickly you are capable of producing), and you’ve given yourself no other option but to focus. Plus, you can always pull back and reclaim your prerogative to do things on your own time and in your own place. I find it’s typically at least worth a shot.

For many freelancers, this particular struggle is simply an issue of environment. There is a reason people rent out cubicles at shared office spaces; the brain likes to have a separation between the places it associates with sleeping, eating, and marathoning Stranger Things versus the places where professionalism and productivity live. A smaller commitment than a cube rental is the popular habit of taking one’s self out for extended cups of coffee. Good lighting, an innocuous soundtrack, and the occasional interruption can be the perfect blend of society and solitude. They may not say a word to anyone other than the cashier, but you can bet the laptop crowd’s sideways glances are keeping each other in check. One of the things I love best about this career style is the variety—in the last week alone, I worked out of a trailer parked in the Columbia River Gorge; in a Colonial manor house that’s on the National Registry of Historic Places; on the North American campus of an international sportswear brand; and at my own kitchen table. I can keep that feeling going by seeking out different places and neighborhoods to grab an Americano and punch out a couple hours’ worth of work. If you live in a city, there are probably new places opening and closing all around you. There’s no excuse to get in a rut! Plus, who knows who you might run into… they might wind up being the crack you trip on to get to your next gig.

In short, there is no magic formula. It’s a journey, just like every other aspect of life as a creative for hire. It’s our job to observe our own behavior and react and adjust accordingly. Whether that means paying a monthly fee for a place to be at 9 am five days a week, or committing to a lifestyle in which underwear rarely plays a role before noon is up to you. That’s the beauty, and the danger, of this life.

Marjorie is a former Creative Circle candidate based in Portland who recently accepted a full-time offer for her dream job. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with someone like Marjorie, please contact your nearest Creative Circle office.

On August 29, FlexJobs released a study that has some interesting things to say about job flexibility — that molting new version of our employment ecosystem that seems to be the future. Setting aside the problematic science of a job search website that specializes in “flexible work opportunities” funding research that flatters its business model, the results are provocative.

Predictably, the study found that only seven percent of potential employees interested in work flexibility said the office during standard office hours was their preferred location for being productive. Being that remote work is one of the fundamental hallmarks of flexible employment, the fact that a group that had already self-selected the preference produced this result is not very shocking.

What I think is interesting is the way this report functions as an effort to soothe the minds of old school employers. As much as it seems clear that society can no longer ignore the common sense of evolving along with technology, flexible workers (or would-be flexible workers) still regularly encounter trust issues. The wording in this report is so revealing. The office? Not just the least preferable place to work, but the least preferable for “optimum productivity on work-related projects.” The message to employers is simple: If you want better, faster returns, set your people free.

I don’t pretend to be a scientist, but based on self and peer observation, this does seem to play out, if not always in the most graceful fashion (those un-showered days spent entirely in bed with a laptop, the caffeine-fueled all-nighter when you’ve procrastinated yourself into a corner). With a huge range of variability and a slew of eclectic, individualized approaches, one way or another a valuable employee is going to deliver quality goods on time. That will never change. You will get what you pay for, and if you don’t deliver, you will stop getting paid. The market will self-correct. So in the end, how we get there is… not really anyone’s rightful concern, so long as we get there. From a business perspective, eliminating a permanent office (or at least keeping it minimal) can lower overhead—you don’t need as much square footage for a space that functions mainly as a meeting place, instead of a stable where people spend the majority of their time.

That being said, I’m not ready to put the concept of the office away entirely. Some of us do appreciate having a focused place to go to, where we can have conversations with real live humans engaged in the same goals, eat lunch together while talking shop, and keep it all completely compartmentalized away from the rest of our lives. But it’s good to have options.

Outside of the conflict of interest, my other problem with this study was the portion of the survey that asked respondents what they would be willing to give up in exchange for more flexible work options: Fifteen to 29 percent of respondents were amenable to significant reductions in pay, vacation time, retirement fund matching. (Also, 81 percent of respondents said they would be more “loyal” to their employers, which is the only scenario I’m down with, considering loyalty is free.) When I mentioned reducing overhead? Taking it from people’s pay is not what I meant. If there’s anything obvious about modern America’s economy, it’s that middle class workers need to be making more money, not less. The costs to be a freelancer, if you want to talk about true flexibility, can be much higher than for a full-time corporate employee, thanks to gutting healthcare costs and self-employment taxes. And vacation time? Come on. There are plenty of surveys from unbiased sources that note the many benefits to both workers and employers when paid vacation time is given and used. In short, I would plead to my fellow flexible workers not to sew the concept of reducing our livelihood into the minds of the employer class.

We do need more flexibility. Modernity demands that barriers be lowered for those with small children or mobility issues, and normalizing the elements of a flexible work style is part of the process. Building trust between employees and employers improves those relationships immensely, and both sides benefit. It’s not that one lifestyle needs to replace the other. It’s that both should coexist in harmony and shared abundance.

Marjorie is a former Creative Circle candidate based in Portland who recently accepted a full-time offer for her dream job. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with someone like Marjorie, please contact your nearest Creative Circle office.

I just returned from Content Marketing World 2016 in Cleveland – the birthplace of rock and roll – and came back to Los Angeles pumped up. Was it because I was one of the squares in CMWorld’s game of Hollywood Squares? Nope. Was it Mark Hamill talking about whether he’d rather be Luke Skywalker or The Joker? Nope (and spoiler alert: he would choose both!) For me, the highlight of the trip was an intimate gathering to watch one of the greatest American bands put on a pure rock and roll bonanza at The Music Hall. For 90 minutes, Cheap Trick took us all on a tour of what rock and roll is about: Music, showmanship and having a good time. Those are the same things I strive for as a content marketer – great content, sharp skills and having fun doing it!

I got back to my room that night, ears ringing, shirt soaked with sweat, and started preparing for day 2 of CMWorld the following morning. On day 1, I had seen speakers like: Robert Rose Ann Handley and Andrew Davis who had all talked about ways to make your content inspire action and evoke emotion. It was then I realized that rock music and content marketing are almost one and the same. They both aim to engage an audience, leaving them full of emotion and inspiration. Like a great song, a great blog post or video can do the same thing. That night, Cheap Trick reminded me why rock music is content and how important it is to notice the resemblance. If we approach content marketing like a great rock band, we have to play and play and play to get our message across. And at the same time have fun, experiment and know that our job is to entertain and engage the audience. Sometimes, it’s going to work and other times, it is going to fail. But the show must go on. It’s the same thing with content marketing. Some pieces of content are going to drive conversion and others are going to fail miserably. But the beauty of the platforms we choose to broadcast on is that they allow us to post, measure and manage – and most importantly – try new things and see what resonates.

I remember the first time I heard Cheap Trick. In May of 1978, I was playing centerfield for the Mets. That is, the Wayland, MA Little League Mets. And I was in centerfield because… let’s just say I was not the strongest player on the team. So there I was in a field of green, picking daisies and daydreaming. The ballpark was surrounded by woods – there were trees everywhere and the bugs were buzzing. It was an idyllic New England spring day. The drone of the insects and the chants of “hey battah, hey battah, sah-wing battah” were overtaken by loud rock music emanating from the woods. As I stood there with my hands on my knees praying that a ball would not get hit to me, I heard the screams of young girls and someone yelling from the woods, “I want you, to want me…” then the drums kicked in and pure rock and roll gold began to pour out from the trees.

While I was only 9 years old, I fancied myself a rock and roll aficionado at this point in my life –years earlier, my older brother and I had joined Columbia Music House and ordered albums such as Fly Like An Eagle and Who’s Next. But what I was hearing was like nothing I had ever heard before. The power chords, the melodies, the screams of the crowd. Of course I was hearing Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan for the very first time. At that very moment, I became a fan for life.

Now remember, in 1978 we had no social media. We had no internet. We didn’t even have MTV. We had vinyl and cassettes. We heard about new music on the radio and more importantly, from our friends. That day in 1978, the woods were my internet. The screaming fans were my social media. And even hundreds of yards away, with the music blaring, I was engaged. I was persuaded to go buy that record – which I did the next chance I had!

As many of us know, rock music – all music – is powerful. It takes chances. It takes commitment. It persuades us to take action – even if it is just to jump around and dance like a fool. Did Cheap Trick know that their songs would have a lasting impact for 40 years? I don’t think so. But now here they are, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, continuing to play, entertain and engage audiences everywhere. Their catalog of music is evergreen. And isn’t that what we hope to achieve as content marketers?

Michael Weiss is Vice President of Marketing at Creative Circle. He is a digital strategist, content marketer, and presentation coach.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to the internet, life is more full of gray area than ever. For most of us, social media has a huge presence in our lives, and it’s rife with… well, danger, kind of. There’s the danger in being too public with your personal life in a context that can be accessed by people you work with professionally. And one could make the argument that there is such a thing as your professional presence imposing on your personal world, as well. And yet, it’s only become more of a necessity to be present on social for anyone working in a creative field.

How to navigate this minefield of mixing social media with business? Keep the following in mind at all times!

1. Accept modern reality

For creative workers, especially freelancers, social media participation has become a necessity. Maybe you don’t think it’s fair, but that’s the way it is. Bearing that in mind, think of ways to approach it that you enjoy, that don’t make you feel violated, and that will reflect favorably on you and your career and experiences.

2. Use it, but only if you use it right.

Social media can be a powerful tool to spread the word about your name and brand, but if you have a hard time drawing the line between what’s appropriate for different audiences, you might want to do some serious homework before plunging in. Think about what would work best on each platform. What would work for you on Instagram may not work for you on Facebook.

3. Maintain neutrality.

A professional social feed is not the place to put anything remotely controversial. This is not to mean you shouldn’t have an opinion but keep it positive and avoid expressions of divisiveness or anger. Direct your audience to our work, not your words. Think good vibes!

4. Draw a line.

You can have more than one account! If you’d like to share your weekend shenanigans with the world, create a personal account that’s completely separate from your professional one. Then, consider making your personal account private—if you don’t, people from your professional life are probably still going to look at it.

Good luck out there. The forecast is that there is much more gray area to come as the internet continues to redefine human society!

Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

As an aspiring music journalist, I flood myself with rhetorical questions and negative self-talk daily. How do I spread my ideas? How will I maintain forward momentum from a particular internship in the future? How can I differentiate myself in a graduating class of equally intelligent, driven individuals who all want the same jobs? When all’s said and done, however, one essential question remains: How will all these seemingly-uncontrollable parts fall into place and lead to a fulfilling, economically viable career? As it turns out, it’s some daunting combination of consistent hard work, fortuitous connections, and dumb luck. As I enter beyond the halfway point of the college experience into my junior year, a few central anxieties trouble me most.

The first is one that I think applies to those in almost every creative field: what little standardization existed in pre-digital days seems to have been blown wide open in recent years. This is undeniably the case for aspiring journalists, who have seen stable, full-time positions evaporate at exponential speeds since the onset of social media. For those of us who look to make a financially feasible career  in writing (like me), the recent ubiquity of the freelance lifestyle is unnerving. For visual artists and musicians, the rise of content-sharing platformsInstagram and Soundcloud, respectively—seems to have devalued art for general audiences that feel as though they’ve seen, heard, and read it all. Brands across the board are even more acutely aware of the situation, and now look to the unnamed masses to crowd source campaign slogans, jingles, mini movies, and more.

Beyond the digital unearthing of the various fields themselves, the intricacies of the looming job market still make me uneasy on a personal level. This fear has been ingrained in me from years of being an introvert at a small school, and impacts me greatly in the process of forging industry connections. I’ve never been the sociable kid on the first day of class, and I’ve certainly never been the one to introduce myself to a large group at a college party. It figures, then, that the process of networking, connecting with peers, and standing out in an office setting is a uniquely disconcerting task. The fact that I live on campus and surround myself with like-minded students in the same general age bracket only makes matters worse, considering how intimidating it can be relating to supervisors of a different generation.

Above personal issues and disappearing jobs, though, it’s the very nature of the millennial workforce that I have the least control over. As QZ reports, the “side hustle”—a gig you take up in off hours to supplement the income of a full-time position—has come to define the next generation of employees in all fields. From Uber drivers to late-night baristas to weekend web designers, young, college-educated people across the board are finding it harder and harder to live on the means that a standard job provides. This means that not only is full-time work statistically more difficult to come by than in decades past, but the stability of such work is being upended as well. In tandem with a myriad of smaller concerns, this doesn’t seem to bode well for someone looking to enter an already-shrinking industry.

What does this signal for my future? For now, at least, it translates to a lot of nearsightedness, short-term panic, and constant feelings of helplessness. But I persevere in spite of it all. I look forward because, at the end of the day, that’s all I can do. Even as I feel the strains of a collapsing industry and a generational divide that remains inextricable from the shifting job market at large, I’m able to realize that I have little to no control over any external factors that might change my situation. While this may seem like a morbid admission, I’ve felt more peace and security in recent months than ever before. For the time being, I have to strive to be the best version of myself as possible and live with the results. As hard as it can be, I hope that graduates-to-be are able to find it within themselves do the same. 

Evan is a 20-year-old college student, born and raised in Los Angeles, who has been shaped in innumerable ways by its creative community. He is majoring in digital media and minoring in art history with a dream of working in the music industry since his early experiences at punk shows during his teenage years. Evan currently interns at an online music magazine and ticketing platform, along with a marketing internship at Creative Circle.

When you embark on a new freelance career, you don’t realize right away how much you have to learn. Mentors are a crucial resource to help you calibrate what’s normal—and this is a welcome time for any input that keeps you feeling even keeled. However, people in related fields who are otherwise generous with their advice can be cagey when it comes to money. This seems to be lessening somewhat as society increasingly embraces mutual transparency in social, political, and professional contexts.

But still.

Learning how to legitimately ask for, and receive, the compensation you are worth is tricky to navigate, especially at first. Personally, I have been appreciative of what I’ve learned from the recruiters at Creative Circle—they’ve provided me with trustworthy perspective on the value of my experience. And before gig culture was the thing it is now, most people didn’t have the benefit of that advice. It’s crucial when you’re participating in the freelance economy, and it’s arguably even more valuable to have when you’re negotiating an opportunity for something long-term and/or full-time.

There may still be a bit of stigma when it comes to speaking openly about money, but your career is not the place to be demure about it. It’s also not the place, however, to act cocky, entitled, or unreasonable. Navigating that fine line is a lot easier the more information you have. Luckily, there are a number of resources and methods to choose from when it comes time to talk numbers—and knowing when that time is, by the way, is another issue in itself.

Gaining knowledge and experience in the freelance world can involve a lot of turmoil, so I took a moment to talk to Creative Circle New York’s Lead Recruiter, Brian Young, and ask him if he could help clear some of the fog.

What are some of the resources you would recommend to freelancers who are trying to determine what industry standards are—including variables like location—for rates on the types of services they’re offering?

I’d encourage freelancers to use Freelancers Union and Glassdoor. However, nothing tops asking questions of people immersed in the industry—such as your peers or a recruiter.

What about tools to help determine where you stand within the industry’s range? Are there any recommended resources that can help gauge the worth of your experience on the market?

There are many sites that can assist in figuring this out—from,, and even professional organizations that regularly do studies (like AIGA). Those are all great resources for generalized ideas about ranges, but it really comes down to conversations with peers, mentors, and industry professionals (like recruiters). We coach people that it’s about paying attention to the market, what we’ve seen book and at what price point.

When and how is it appropriate to bring up rates during an interview? Should you wait until they decide to offer you the job first?

If you are going through Creative Circle, you can leave that to us! If you are going in on your own, I would read the room and bring it up within the first two meetings. It can always be brought up organically, or when reviewing your understanding of the project or position. It can be in the form of a question, or by simply discussing your “usual” rates.

Once a rate has been set with a client, are there guidelines as to how far into the relationship you should get before it’s appropriate to raise your rate?

I say wait at least six months UNLESS your role or responsibilities shift.

What are some common mistakes people make that can result in their lowballing themselves?

If they are really interested in the project and really want to work with the client, they will take a lower rate than usual. Additionally, candidates could be experiencing a slower time and “just want to work.” Either situation sets a lower precedence, and candidates will have to work to dig out of that hole.

What kind of guidance can you offer when it comes to negotiating?

Always shoot a little higher than you actually want, and another suggestion would be to always bring up rates as “open for discussion.”

Have advice that’s worked for you? Share it in the comments!

Marjorie is a Creative Circle candidate based in Portland with a longing for work-related travel. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with Marjorie, please contact Creative Circle Portland.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

Hand lettering is huge these days, and is inspiring many designers to add hand-lettering to their skill sets. With the explosion of the sharing economy, designers are learning from each other.

Hand-letterers craft letters using mark-making tools for a specific application or use. What’s the best way to get started or level up in lettering? These six up and coming hand-lettering artists use their skill to create artwork that evokes meaning and expression. Get their best advice on how to improve your own skills.

The Details Matter

Lettering Artist - Joseph - 1Joseph Alessio is a typographic illustrator based in San Francisco who blends type, letters and animates a host of mixed media in typographic compositions. Joseph’s approach with spatial relationships in type and motion is unique. He loves that part of the process in the middle, when you feel like you can experiment and play and discover – “that’s to me the most exciting and fulfilling part.”

Joseph recommends any of Doyald Young’s books as resources for new letterers. “He has an impeccable sense of composition and spatial relationships, how to handle flourishes, etc, and you can learn so much by studying his sketches.” He also recommends for understanding the nuance of letterforms is Designing Type by Karen Cheng. “It’s ironically not about actually designing type, but rather examines in great detail the minutiae of stroke weights, optical adjustments and balancing, character dimensions etc., and was really eye-opening for me as to how quality letterforms, especially within the context of working with other letterforms, are crafted.”

Find Joseph on Instagram, Twitter or his website.

The Fundamentals

Lettering Artist - Colin - 1
Colin Tierney runs Tierney Studio, a Baltimore-based design studio that specializes in hand lettering, calligraphy and branding. To Colin, details that no one might ever notice are integral to the final design. His favorite part of the process is the initial pen to paper phase when he’s hashing out all of his ideas—the good and the bad.

Colin loves throwing on some headphones and listening to music. Music is a passion of his that isn’t directly related to design, so it’s easy to get away from the work and find another source of inspiration through a different kind of love. He recommends to aspiring calligraphers and hand lettering artists his Crayligraphy series. “I go deep into teaching the fundamentals of calligraphy with a Crayola marker. These lessons are perfect for beginners because Crayolas are cheap, accessible and easier to write with.”

Find Colin on Instagram, Twitter and Dribble.

Push Your Craft

Lettering Artist - Erick - 1
Erick Ortega is a freelance illustrator and lettering artist from Cali, Columbia. The tactile quality of his handmade artwork is one of his trade marks and he enjoys most inking the artwork and finalizing the piece as a digital file. He’s inspired by books, movies, pop culture, but by far, music is his biggest inspiration in many ways. “Being an independent artist is about doing it all yourself and making things happen. Making yourself from scratch and keep pushing your craft to where you want to be next.”

Erick recommends picking up a copy of In Progress by Jessica Hische for both rookies and seasoned designers for information on lettering as a craft, and as a business.

Check out Erick on Behance, Instagram and Twitter.

Get the Lettering Bible

Lettering Artist - Jason - 1Jason Carne, a freelance graphic designer who letters and designs type in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, specializes in decorative, ornamental lettering. He is heavily inspired by the past, and constantly looking at old packaging, decades-old photos of signage from decades or centuries ago, and vintage record covers. He admits, “I feel like there was a stronger connection to ones craft in 1916 than there is in 2016, there was a desire to make sure something stood the test of time.”

Jason recommends a couple of books for lettering students, the first being Leslie Cabarga’s Logo, Font and Lettering Bible. “Beyond the gorgeous specimens included within its pages, it has tons of insight and secrets from some of the best lettering artists of the past few generations. A close second I’d recommend would be any Speedball book you can find, the most easily attainable being the recently published 100th anniversary edition including original works from Ross F. George (the artists behind the original Speedball books) as well as many modern masters.”

See more of Jason’s work on Dribble, Behance and Instagram.

Let the World Inspire You

Lettering Artist - Danielle - 1Danielle Evans is an object lettering artist, art director, and animator from Columbus, Ohio. She uses objects and food to create her lettering, and rather than chose mediums for color or trendiness, she crafts the materials and forms around a concept. She loves finding the correct energy in her strokes or stumbling across a new technique as well as the styling process. To get inspired, Danielle’s recommendation would be to go outside.

She also attests to one of the most useful books she’s read, which isn’t about lettering at all. “The $100 Startup by Chris Gillebeau was a fantastic reminder that gorgeous letterforms don’t spring from the best reference books, supplies, a fancy studio space, or the most renown peer group,” Danielle remarks. “The book profiles several creatives struggling to actualize their dreams who modestly and resourcefully generate profitable businesses out of small investments. After finishing, I remember realizing my lettering deserved proper investment of my skills, time, and financial backing if it was to flourish.”

Follow Danielle on Twitter, Instagram and her website.

Start on a Letraset Quest

Lettering Artist - Alex - 1Alex Savakis, a designer and illustrator from Concord, California, deconstructs letters to create new expressions of their forms. He finds the work of fellow lettering artists and calligraphers inspirational, including the American Greetings lettering team with whom he trained with. He says, “Their enthusiasm, spirit and grit inspire me to make something everyday.”

Lettering Artist - Alex - 2

Lettering Artist - Alex - 3For those learning to letter, Alex recommends finding a Letraset catalog from the 80s. “The catalog was a couple of inches thick, spiral-bound and loaded with typefaces. If a copy is available at a used bookstore, grab it! Also, look online at the lettering work that excites you, deconstruct it to see how it was created, then recreate it in your hand or style. Developing your style will take time, more than you might expect. Keep at it.”

Watch Alex on Instagram, his blog and his website.

Want to find out more about inspiring artists and designer who are leading the way in type and typography? Follow us on Crowdcast. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, visit us at

Rachel Elnar is a co-founder and producer at TypeEd, where she helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Learn more about how to design for readers by signing up for TypeEd’s 7-day email course.