If you were given the option to sit with your favorite designer for an hour, how would you react? That's what we went through when Jacob Cass agreed to give us a few minutes of his precious time.
He set up his web design business from scratch at the age of 21. He wears many hats - Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Logo Designer, Blogger, and an avid world traveler. He is an inspiration to many who are trying to create their mark in the Web world. Yes, we are talking about Jacob Cass.
Read on the candid interview with Jacob as he shares his wisdom and insights into his life.
Q. You have chosen 'Design' as a career choice. Where many designers fail, you have created a unique brand and identity for yourself. What do you attribute this success to?
A. Creating your own personal brand that tied to your goals is the key to success. As for myself, my blog and social media profiles were the perfect outlet to craft my personal brand, as it gave me a platform to express my opinions and get eyeballs on my design work, thus allowing me to an opportunity to get clients. This is just part of the equation but, it certainly is a main contributor to “success”.
Q. Can you tell us about your first project as a freelancer? What are the feelings that you experienced while completing the project?
A. There were many mock projects completed throughout design school as well as some for real clients. My first clients stemmed from an online "party photos" website I was running for my friends, which before Facebook and MySpace (damn!). They saw what I was doing and asked if I could do a website and logo for them, in this case, it was for a death metal band. This moment was eye-opening as I realized that a hobby could be turned in cash/beer money.
Q. You have a bag full of reputed clients. How did you win them in such a short time frame?
A. There are many attributes that are required for winning clients; from your portfolio, how you present yourself, how you communicate as well as having transparency with how you work - this includes everything you relay, including proposals, invoices and of course the presentations. This is really just the tip of the iceberg though.
Q. You have traveled a lot of places in the world. What is your secret of balancing your work life and personal life?
A. Having a foundation to work upon is crucial, you can't just jet-set out there and travel the world without having funds and an established business to land back on. You need foundations in place; a small client base at least and a professional brand and website. The work-life balance is always an ongoing fight but in the end, you reap what you sow.
Q. Do new places inspire your designs? Can you share an example if any?
A. I wouldn't say new places inspire my designs directly and purposefully, but they certainly do influence them indirectly. When traveling you're exposed to new ways of communicating, new cultures, and experiences. This helps you grow both personally and professionally in ways just not possible by being stuck inside a cubicle. I always recommend people to travel as much as possible for this reason.
Q. Can you share if there is any project that has given you nightmares? Why?
A. Not yet, thankfully. There have been a few all-nighters and a few let's say, "inflexible" clients but no nightmares.
Q. You work full time and also as a freelancer, what are the challenges you face and what have you done to minimize it?
A. Actually now I only freelance and travel the world as a digital nomad. This way of life is what many designers, developers, and creatives are realizing is possible - and it really is!
Q. What do you think will the trend be in logo designing in 2016 and the coming years?
A. I actually have a post on my blog on just this topic. See the 2016 logo trends forecast.
Q. You have tasted both the lives - as a freelancer and a full-time worker. Which one do you prefer?
A. There are pros and cons of both, and I detailed this in length here but as for what I prefer, certainly freelancing. Less work hours and more freedom!
Q. When you look back, do you have any regrets about the way your career as a designer has shaped out?
A. No regrets, but I certainly could not have planned on how it turned out. Some things were "luck" such as getting a job offer in NYC or getting the opportunity to talk at a TEDx. But this depends on how you look at it, these things would not have happened without the hard work done at the beginning.
Q. Last, but not least, if our newbie designers can benefit from a piece of advice from THE Jacob Cass, what would be it?
A. The biggest piece of advice that I would give an upcoming designer comes in a ‘package’ based on the little things that I have learned over my short career as a designer. These would be perfect for someone just starting out: Don’t undervalue your work. Seek criticism, not praise. Always keep learning & don’t be a static learner: do this by reading books, magazines, blogs, and by practicing. Collect & share things. Teach others. Never give up. Keep practicing. Again, keep practicing.
Q. Can you also please share some of your work so that we can add it to the interview?
A. Here are some of the great innovations from Jacob Cass:
His amazing logo work: