Stories : Jen Serafini
Happy Tuesday everyone! I am excited to have this designer on the blog today. I have been following Jen Serafini’s work on her blog and on twitter. She is such a sweet & kind person and all her work is fantastic! Jen lives in Chicago and has a lot of experience under her belt. Enjoy her story!
1. Tell us about yourself. When you aren’t designing, what do you like to do?
Hi! I’m a graphic designer and art director living in Chicago. When I’m not working, you can find me hanging out with my 2 boys (my husband and little pup!), learning how to use my DSLR camera, staying active (we love going for runs or bike rides, especially during the summer months), and eating my way through the Windy City (there are just too many awesome places to try, my stomach can’t keep up!)
2. What inspired you to get into design and then become a full time freelancer?
Design has always been a huge part of my life. I like to tell people it started all the way back in grammar school when I would collect bottles and clothing tags that I thought had cool typography and graphics. I was always involved in fine arts, and then, after taking a graphic design class in high school, it all came together. I realized that this was the path for me.
A lot of people don’t know this, but I actually am not a full time freelancer! I work full time from home for an advertising agency as a senior art director and freelance/blog after work hours. Working at an agency has taught me so many valuable skills about storytelling, time management, working with clients, presentation skills, and meeting deadlines. I’ve been able to apply a lot of those skills to my freelance work and help build my own business on those principles.
3. Did you go to school for design? If not, how did you learn that skill?
I did go to school for design. I majored in Communications Design at Syracuse University, which is a program I would recommend to anyone. It was very competitive but very rewarding at the same time. The program is based on problem solving and coming up with big ideas in addition to perfecting your design skills. When I graduated, I felt like I had a large toolbox of knowledge and felt confident about going into the “real world”.
I also know a lot of successful designers without formal training, and they taught themselves; there’s no wrong way!
4. What advice do you have for any designer or individual(s) who want to own their own business? It’s a scary venture! What would be some tips for them?
My biggest piece of advice is to consider the big picture. Really take time to think about what is going to set you apart from the others. What can you say and do differently that will create a unique audience that buys into your product or service? This is something I’m constantly working on; it’s ever-changing but important to always keep in mind!
5. What have you found to be helpful & impacting ways to market yourself?
I think one of the most beneficial tools to market myself has been my blog. It’s allowed me to show off my personal style, share my passion and my work and process while also connecting with so many other amazing creatives. My next goal is to target more small businesses right in Chicago, so I’m currently dreaming up some fun ways to capture their attention.
6. How do you want to continue to challenge yourself as a creative person?
I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration outside of the creative field. The unexpected places always push me to re-think things and get inspired to take my work to the next level. I’m always challenging myself to consider the big idea and push every design I create to tell a story that goes beyond just a pretty picture.
7. What are you inspired by on a daily basis?
My husband is a huge inspiration to me. Because he is in such a different field (resident physician), his work ethic and attention to detail is something that constantly admire and work toward with my own business. I’m also inspired by my city. On a nice summer day, you can walk from the beach all the way downtown and through every little neighborhood in between. There is just endless inspiration everywhere you look, and that’s something for which I’m very thankful.