Getting Into Graphic Design: Q & A with William Beachy

Go Media receives countless inquiries into the nature of the design business from students all over the world. This posts shares a recent round of Q & A with Go Media president William Beachy.

Who was your mentor and what was the most important thing they taught you?

I never really had a mentor. I truly wish I did, and I would highly recommend finding one to anyone starting out in the design industry or business.

It’s MUCH easier to have someone there by your side with the experience to point out mistakes and give advice. Unfortunately, I had to fall flat on my face several hundred times as I learned each lesson one at a time.

I do read a lot of biographies and business books. So, I think these were my pseudo-mentors.

What are some good ways to network effectively in the Graphic Design/Illustration field?

First, you have everything in your power to put yourself “out there” build a website, join design sites like Behance and Deviant Art, volunteer your services to design posters that will get exposure, join design organizations like AIGA, attend conventions and events like Weapons of Mass Creation.

Once you’ve gotten out there, you just need to be outgoing and friendly. Show people your work. And again, BE NICE. Nobody likes a snobby conceited artist. Have a genuine interest in the artists around you.

What are a few ways I could properly market myself and my skills?

Well, everything listed above would be step one. Next, hit up your friends and family. They are always a good place to get started. I would distribute postcards all over my city/state.

If necessary do voluntary design work for the exposure. And referrals have ALWAYS been the number one source of new leads, so always always always do a fantastic job for your customers!

Which skills have you observed to be the most sought after in this field?

That’s easy. Web development is the absolute most important skill in this industry right now. Over the past three years our print-to-web ratio has gone from 50-50 to 10-90.

We get nine web projects in the door for every print project. Flash animation and After Effects is also growing in demand. I know designers love print-work, but if you want to be on the leading edge of the demand curve – learn everything you can about the web. In particular, study the leading content management systems and design requirements for mobile devices.

What are the qualities you look for in a business partner?

Honesty, work ethic, no ego and a take action personality.

What has been the highest position you have held?

This is it — President of Go Media! But don’t let the title fool you. I still do all the grunt work too – I design, manage, sell and even clean our office fish tank!

What were the biggest challenges you have faced?

2009 was a fairly brutal year. The economic collapse really hit our business hard. We were forced to lay off a few employees and do a little reorganizing of our priorities. But really, every year presents its own challenges.

One challenge that most young entrepreneurs don’t anticipate is growing pains. What happens when you suddenly experience a burst of success and try to expand? There is a whole host of problems that come along with growing.

Looking back, what are a few things you wish someone told you, when you were just starting out?

Well, truthfully I’m a little hard-headed. Even if someone told me: “Don’t do that Bill, you’re going to hurt yourself.” I probably would have done it anyway and learned my lesson that way.

With this mentality in mind, my advice to people that are just getting started is: Just do it. Don’t wait. Don’t sit around second-guessing everything. Don’t worry that you may mess something up – because YOU WILL.

So, just get right to it and start making those mistakes! The sooner you fail, the faster you learn. The faster you learn, the sooner you succeed. Don’t let anyone tell you that it cannot be done. There is this great poem by Edgar Guest titled “It Couldn’t Be Done”. Look it up. Live by it.

If I were applying for an internship, how could I set myself apart from all the other designers? What would you look for?

First, you need to have an extremely well designed resume and cover letter. Second, your portfolio needs to be good enough for consideration. Finally, you need to tenaciously pursue us; send letters, call, show up on our doorstep, send us flowers, shovel our sidewalks, whatever.

You need to leave your ego at the door and show that your heart is 100% invested in Go Media.