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I don't have a degree either. In fact, in my area of design (direct market), having a degree is almost frowned upon. Clients tend to perceive a degree student as someone who knows how to design pretty things, but doesn't understand marketing and designing for the purpose of making sales.

While that's not always true, I've heard it enough to know that it's an issue in my little corner of the design world.

In fact, I think if I had a degree, knowing what I now know, I wouldn't even mention it to clients.

I've never had any client ask me about a degree. All they care about is samples of my work and a sense that I'm reliable.

As far as being reliable, you can help prove that with testimonials, a blog where you intelligently discuss issues important to clients, professional project consultation calls, etc.

That's crazy Mike, I've never had a client ask me about a design degree or not, but to have it almost count as a negative is really surprising - wow.

Testimonials definitely help (I recommend video/audio if you can get them), but I've always been surprised how many clients don't check them out. Having a solid guarantee is a nice feature to offer.

PS - Great input as always - thanks. Hey, I'll shoot you a LinkedIn in a few.

Yes... crazy and absolutely true. I do have to stress that this is with hardcore direct marketers who have been around for years.

They hate what they refer to as the "Madison Avenue" design because they don't believe the focus is on immediate sales. And they feel they get that most often from people with design degrees.

Obviously, not all designers with degrees are like that. But I know beyond all doubt that the perception (and experience) is out there.

I'm not anti-degree. Everyone has a different path to take. But like you, I don't want anyone to think a degree is a "must" in every case.

You said, "clients don't care about you, your background, your degree/or non-degree...and they certainly don't care about mine either, they ONLY care about what we can do for them."

Oh how true. They want to make money. If you can help them do that, you're in.

I don't have a degree either in graphic design. My degrees were in Advertising and Music. I only started learning design while working in a prepress facility during the 90's. At this point all clients care about is seeing your work. If you have some solid examples of work then that is all that matters. If a client is unsure of my expertise I usually try to get a small job to show what I can do. If I get the first job, 9 times our of 10 I will get another from that client.

Well you were one up on me Diane, at least you learned design at a prepress facility, I learned it working for a hospice company. Smart idea in suggesting to take a smaller (less risky) project up front to show your worth - nice!

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How You Can Stop Starving

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Illustrations from Books

  • BASAS - Freelancer Getting Strung Up by Client
    A very small sample of the actual illustrations drawn for the Being a Starving Artist Sucks, and Verbal Kung Fu for Freelancers book. The illustrations were done by: Matt Hein, Rich Arnold and Carlos Ponce - 3 outstanding designers.