Coming out of Graduate School, I do quite a large amount of freelance graphic design, especially in the athletic realm. But this was never something that I intended for my career, but with my background in art it just kept coming back to this. So I began teaching myself the Adobe Suite and before I knew it I was hooked. Here are a few quick tips that I wish I would have known when I started out.

Art Theory

If you’re designing a website, posters, merchandise, or anything that requires you to click open Photoshop you should make sure that you’ve covered your art history and theories. This will make sure that your designs are the best they can be for each client. In truth, I had studied a small portion of Color Theory but the farther I get into my career the more I go back and dig into it to understand it. This has made a huge impact in my design and colors should be planned before you even really start designing.


Memorizing your keyboard shortcuts on Mac or PC will save you considerable amount of time when you’re under tight time constraints and need to push art out quickly. Here are six of my most used shortcuts:

  • ctrl/cmd T: Transform
  • ctrl/cmd L: Levels
  • H: Hand Tool
  • I: Eyedropper Tool
  • B: Brush Tool
  • V: Move Tool


Having a strong portfolio will land you way more work than you can imagine. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still need to network and speak with your clients regularly, but a good portfolio is something that your clients will share with others. Adobe offers a great website known as Behance to display your work and network with other designers.

On the other side of this, not every project needs to be put on your website, only put the absolute best pieces and the work that makes you happy to think about. If you do that, you’re guaranteed to attract more work like it. If you follow these easy steps you’ll find that your work will come together beautifully. The design world is a large place with a lot of good information, don’t be afraid to ask questions and check in for more content on designing.