Katie Barrett

For our second freelancer profile, we took the time to have coffee with Katie where we chatted about her first 18 months of being a freelance designer and how she found working with various studios on different styles of work.


Hey Katie, so how did you get into design?

I first got into design whilst at University. Unfortunately, I wasn't actually studying graphic design at the time, but when I started my own club night with a friend, I was able to do all the branding and club night posters. After University I realised that graphic design was a hobby I really wanted to turn into a career but, because I had already done a three-year course, I didn’t want to go back to uni for another whole degree. So instead, I applied to Shillington College and started a 3-month course in January ’15.

What made you want to commit to freelancing after Shillington?

Freelancing is a very versatile and flexible way of working especially within the creative industry. It allows me to work on several different personal and commissioned projects at the same time and having only just started as a designer it also means I can find out what area of design I want to focus on.


And how did you get your first freelance job?

I got my first freelancing job off the back of an internship at Karoshi. I freelanced there for 9 months, it was great!


Since working at Karoshi, how have you found working in different sized studios/types of business?

It’s a great experience to work with many different people and this is why I find freelancing exciting! You may have one job where you are working with 2 people, or you may find yourself in a job where there are 60+ people. Can be scary to start off,  but I see it as a way of learning and adapting to different studio environments. 

So how do you currently get work, do you do much self-promotion?

Currently, I have a website and many different social media platforms which all link to each other. I personally think this is the best way for people to find out about you and the work you produce. Twitter and Instagram are also great ways to show people what you are getting up to on a day-to-day basis. I feel being a designer is also a lifestyle, so promoting yourself can come hand in hand with promoting your work.


What sort of work do you do at the moment and do you want to try anything new?

My last job was at a branding agency, which is something I have always been interested in. However, I have just done a few weeks at a digital agency which was exciting as I haven’t done much work in this area before. I Would love to continue gaining experience in different areas of design and building up a varied portfolio, but ultimately I would like to end up in a design role working across different sectors such as identity, art direction and web design for premium homeware brands, restaurants or just general exciting rebranding projects. 

Have you seen any cool projects from other designers/agencies recently?

One rebrand I love at the moment is Gumtree by Studio Koto. I think it was extremely well executed, and is a contemporary, forward-thinking progression from the old identity. Also a huge fan of Two Times Elliot and EverythingInBetween (to name a couple) and often keep up-to-date with all their new projects. Also a huge fan of Malika Favre (illustrator) and recently purchased one of her limited edition prints. 


And as you've now been freelancing for 18 months, have you got any advice for new freelancers or people wanting to switch?

Don’t be afraid to be a freelancer!! I was for a few months and then you relax and realise it isn’t as scary as you anticipate. Work may not be constant however it is a great way to work on several different projects at the same time and build up a varied portfolio. You also meet loads of new people and experience working in lots of different cool environments. Just network and get yourself out there!!

So what are you main challenges at the moment?

Some challenges I face at the moment are perhaps reasons why people may be afraid of making the leap to freelancing. Often it will take ages to get paid for a project, and worst case scenario you end up chasing people for months, but with a bit of persistence you usually get there. Another challenge is balancing great portfolio level work and stuff that pays well. I always say don’t produce something that you wouldn’t put in your portfolio, no matter how boring the job may be. This doesn’t mean everything should go in your portfolio, but always produce the best work you can.


Have you got any examples of great work and some less fun projects you worked on?

Whilst at Karoshi I worked on some really great projects, one project in particular was a sustainable homeware brand - Thanda. Some other stuff I have been working on are EP covers for artists such as Folded Like Fabric and Forint. Other not so fun projects may be little bits you do for a friend that don't require much creativity. However, I always make sure I balance out my work, this way I can never get bored of being a designer.

So what are you plans for the next few years, where do you want to be?

My plan for the moment is to carry on freelancing and expanding my portfolio. However, in the next few months, I would like to get a more permanent role, gain more experience, grow more of a network and eventually start something of my own.  

And finally, what are your thoughts on Availo?

Availo is a great platform built by people who have first hand experience in design and freelancing, understanding how tiring finding work can be for both the freelancer and agencies wanting to hire. By cutting out the middle man it allows us to build relationships directly with the agency or studio, ultimately creating a faster, easier and overall more pleasant experience for finding work.