What is my next move?? So lost now feel hopeless.

Hey guys my name is James and I have been a graphic designer for about 5 years commercial experience. Since college I struggled to find anything so I worked a construction job and did freelance until I found a design gig. Luckilly I got my first job at a print shop for $15 an hour and did things for pepsi and other big clients. This was great but I was let go after 5 months. Then unemployment came for 6-9 months and I settled for a $12 an hour job at a chain print company. I worked there for a year and it was great I learned alot, my boss was really cool, did ok designs there. Then he filed for bankrupcy and we went out of business. About 4 months later I relocated to Philadelphia for a local print company getting $17.50 an hour which was great. BUT the idiot owner got rid of me after 3 weeks because she hired 2 designers to do one job and the other designer had a house, wife, and kids so I got the boot because he had more on the line. About 3-4 weeks later I landed a job at one of the largest screen printing companies for $13 and it was great at first. I learned every print method, busted my ass, got up to $14 an hour way faster than everyone else (design team is about 20-30 people). And now I am 2 years in at this company and I am in the top percentile. I train new hires, I do very hard simulated process jobs, I try to help automate, I create documents to help train faster, and I help change the infrastructure for the better. Sounds great right? Well I am only doing those things about 10-20% of the time. The majority of my job is to crank out automated clipart designs customers made all day everyday. It is mind numbing, boring, not creative, and monotonous. I am now at $16 hourly which is good and overtime is unlimited at this point n time. I get full vision, dental, medical, and 401k. But I dread going in everyday. I am currently looking for a new job but I dont know where to go. I have been doing these shitty low paying print related jobs since day 1 I feel stuck. I know tons of print knowledge, like to think im a great designer, and dont know much coding web based stuff. What is my answer here? Do I continue to go in and out of print jobs? Try agencies? Learn web? I dont know anymore. All I want is to design great things and be respected. I have the benefits, the money, and the security but what is it all for if I wanna die every time I go into work. If there are any designers out there to help out and give me opinions on what they think of all of this please let me know I need clarity. I love creating and dont want to waste my prime years on jobs like this. I have been trying so hard to become a great designer and it has been filled with huge ups and downs. In and out of depression due to student loan debt and unemployment. And on top of this I see some of my friends or classmates from college doing so much better than me and getting awesome jobs way easier.


  • calder12
    Senior Member Posts: 13,484
    If I were you I'd probably approach any agencies in your area that still do print work. Those are dwindling, so are the people that know how to do it right.

    Second, I'd use paragraphs when I type.

    Off topic, I fucking miss thinking $16/hour is anything above slave labour, where I live that is barely a living wage.
  • jg9
    Registered User HamptonsPosts: 803
    First thing you need to do is find another job asap, whether that employed or freelance. I've been there and after a while you'll start to hate the industry as well as the role.
  • Giraffe
    toxic designer Posts: 9,874 edited March 20
    Your portfolio isn't very strong, which might account for some of the struggles you're experiencing with finding work. One piece of advice I might give you is to pad out your portfolio with creatively fulfilling dream projects. They might be fake, but the advantage is that it allows the viewer to see how far you can stretch your design legs.

    The other piece of advice: Learn HTML and CSS. At least become familiar with the fundamentals of front-end web development. Print design in 2017 should really be about pushing established boundaries. I'm 90% focused on print design and type myself, but I'm afforded the luxury of producing a lot of niche projects that can showcase my skill as a designer.

    Print methodology will never supplant design methodology; I would suggest honing the latter. The former is now a luxury.
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