Tag Archives: dftba

Got to hang out with some YouTube favourites today at Buffer Festival!

Hello, Alan. I’m looking for some advice with beginning freelance graphic design. The main advice I find online is to market yourself to long-term clients who you can form a good working relationship with. I’ve seen you develop relationships with some great creators over the years on YouTube, but for a beginner, do you have any tips on how to get started? Is it enough to reach out through social media and have a design Tumblr or what additional things could you advise? Thanks so much! -Josh


I guess it depends on your end game, but I can talk about how I did what I did. And throw in a few other examples from friends of mine.

Okay so, those YouTubers, I got to know most of them slowly through their videos. Then, when the Partner Program first kicked off (invite only), suddenly lots of people needed lots of branding materials. There were channel banners and avatars, and sidebar banners on your video pages, and for a few years you could even completely html image map your whole profile.

So I designed a couple of banners for free, without being asked, and just sent them to some of the bigger partners. I included a little message that said “hey, I like your videos, I made this if you want to use it, no restrictions”, or something like that.

And what do you know, some people actually used them! MysteryGuitarMan, nalts, and I’m pretty sure Hank and John for like two days before Hank designed the one they ended up keeping. And yeah, some didn’t use them, like daxflame (though the daxflame banner was my personal fav).

But when others saw my banners on some of the bigger channels, I got a ton of referrals. I ended up making banners for a lot of new partners as they were added, some for pay, others for fun.

I had no idea those silly little banners would lead to some of the jobs and collaborations they did, so keep that in mind and always do your best, even on a small or seemingly unimportant gig.

(Quick real world example: I first met Michael Buckley when he hired me to do some design work for him. Then we became friends. Then he hired me to design and update his website. Then he hired me to edit some of his videos. That first little banner turned into a very steady gig for a couple years.)

Back to your question…

You can’t really find “long-term clients”, you just have clients who become long-term. Do good consistent work, and then when those clients need a new Thing done, you’ll be the first person they think of.

Like, risarodil, for example. She did some great typography designs, not commissioned, just “for fun”. But now everyone is hiring her to design their quotes for posters and shirts because she does good consistent work. There’s little risk. You know what you’re going to get when you hire Risa. And that’s how long-term clients are made, not found.

The same could be said for karenkavett. She does good work, so John and Hank and others keep going back to her for new stuff. Why take the risk on someone else/someone new? Karen delivers, so you keep going back to Karen.

And that is true for any freelancer, not just design. I hired hello-the-future to edit a short piece I wrote a few months ago. She did a terrific job, not only did she deliver when she said she would, but she explained why she made some of the bigger changes, and overall the piece was stronger because of her involvement. I then hired her to edit all of the static pages on my personal site, and I’ll continue to hire her when I have writing in the future that needs editing.

Okay, I’m starting to get off track again…

Don’t be afraid to do a lot of your own early work for yourself. Design a poster that you’re interested in, not one for a client. Post that. Then make five more. If I were hiring you, I’d want to see a number of completed pieces so I would feel confident in what to expect when you’re finished.

A design tumblr is a great idea to showcase this work. Tag it properly so people who might be interested in your work can find it. And for the love of all that is holy, make your contact information very clear and very easy to find. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’d want to contact someone so we could sell their designs via DFTBA and there was just no way to get in touch with them. Don’t lose the job before you even get it.

I hope that helps. That’s a huge wall of text. I’m sure there’s a ton more to be said too, but I guess start here?

Reblogging for reference and for fellow artists




FOUR HOURS LEFT in dftba.com’s annual sale! Every order—even if you get all nine of these posters and ship them to Kuala Lumpur—ships for $3.

Above you’ll see some of my favorite posters available through DFTBA, but there’s much more at the site, from iphone cases to coffee mugs to t-shirts.


ONE HOUR! Move yur bunz

I designed that ‘This Star Won’t Go Out’ poster so you should jump on this.

The Story of How I Lived Vicariously Through My Poster at Vidcon 2013

Earlier this year I was planning on attending Vidcon this year, at least in the hopey, calculating how much money that would cost sort of way. Unfortunately that fell through.

Last year I submitted this design to the This Star Won’t Go Out (TSWGO) t-shirt contest. I didn’t win, but a few weeks later I received an email that they still really liked my design and might want to use it in the future. I was obviously thrilled and sent them hi-res files, and asked them to let me know when/if they used it.

Fast Forward to last week. To my great surprise I noticed some pictures in my newsfeed from TSWGO, but these weren’t just any pictures, they had my poster in them!

First I was really surprised, because in the bustle and hustle of getting ready for Vidcon they forgot to notify me (not a big issue, and all sorted out now), but mostly I was really excited. Even though I didn’t get to go to Vidcon, here were pictures of my poster next to some of my favourite people, like Wheezy Waiter and John Green!!

But it gets even better! My friend James did make it to Vidcon, and due to his phone not receiving MMS’s I did not manage to properly communicate my discovery to him. The next day he told me to check his profile picture and what do I see but MY POSTER DESIGN next to him, Ze Frank, and Lauren Fairweather! Apparently my poster was at several of the signing tables as well as the TSWGO booth.

If anyone else has pictures of awesome YouTube peeps with my design in them I’d love to see them!

I also saw this awesome video of Esther Day/Vidcon where my design makes a few appearances.

It’s a great note to start my Graphic Design degree off in September 🙂

Note: All the Photos are from the TSWGO Facebook page, besides the one of Ze Frank (and James and Lauren, I bet you can figure out whose who) and the full poster design.

Hey guys! I made this valentine last year on valentines eve.

I got a lot of really nice comments from people who liked them so I’m putting them up here again.

If you’d like to get some, they’re now for sale in my etsy shop!

Here’s the original post, if you’re interested.

Happy early valentines day guys 🙂

I made this stamp set inspired by Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. I think they turned out really cute, especially as a print or as little speech bubbles.

It’s now for sale on Etsy if you want to check it out.

Hey Nerdfighters!

A while ago I made some DFTBA and nerdfighter gang sign stamps stamps, and some people requested them (I am sorry I forget who you are).

They are now for sale in my new etsy shop, in the Stamps – Nerdfighteria section!

Check them out here!

I am posting this again because I fixed the grey writing to be black.

It was previously posted here: http://perpetualthoughts.tumblr.com/post/27421555223