Finding graphic design jobs in Canada
July 18, 2013 7:07 AM   Subscribe

I was reading interviews with various successful graphic designers, and realized that most of them cold-called their future employers and sent them samples of their work. Are there any resources out there that list design studios, book publishers, editors, writers, ... that one can send work to? Is it possible for an immigrant designer to gain an edge on the competition in the graphic design job-hunting game in Canada?

Here are some excerpts from interviews with some successful designers (and illustrators) in which they describe how they got their jobs:

- Jessica Hische (letterer): I was living in Philly and had no plans to move. I had sent Louise one of my illustration promos just because I thought she was awesome. She called me for an interview, hired me that day, and I had to move to NY in three weeks. I hardly knew anyone in NY and I was absolutely miserable for the first six or eight months. I knew it would be amazing and beneficial to work for her, so it wasn’t a risk in that way, but it did put me hugely outside of my comfort zone. There were a lot of moments where I said to myself, “Man, why did I do this? Why don’t I just go back to Philadelphia where I have friends, where things are easy, where everything’s not so expensive, and I’m not sick all the time?” But I stayed and it ended up being so worth it.

- Marian Bantjes (designer): In July 2003, Bantjes struck out on her own, moving to an isolated property on Bowen Island, in Howe Sound off Vancouver. Such a radical change of practice and lifestyle had a cost: after surviving for a year on savings Bantjes was obliged to take out a loan. She sent out posters to editors, writers, designers, potential clients, collaborators and cheerleaders, and spent time on the Speak Up blog.

- Neil Kellerhouse (designer): I was working in the music industry until they sued Napster. I thought that was a really dumb thing to do, so I started aggressively moving away from that industry. Iʼd already been working with Disneyʼs marketing department, primarily on Pixar films. I had a class with Jules Engel when I was at CalArts, and classes with Don Levy and Gene Youngblood. They introduced me to experimental film directors, people like Stan Brackage, Bruce Conner, Maya Deren. I knew about the Janus film library and Criterion, so I sent some work to them and they hired me.

- Sara Blake (illustrator): I actually reached out to Joshua Davis about four years ago because I’m a fan of his work. He gets so many emails on a daily basis, so I’m not sure why he decided to respond to me. I had sent him some illustrations and we also had some mutual friends, so maybe that helped. He invited me out to tour his studio in Long Island, which was really awesome. After that, he gave me some assignments and we worked on a collaborative project. He has continued to be super supportive and has introduced me to other artists.
posted by omar.a to Work & Money (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in a different industry (medical writing), but this is how I get my work, although it is a small step back from what you are proposing. Also, as a freelancer, I've sometimes worked with a company that has other freelance (editors, graphic designers, project managers), so this avenue is open to all of them.

This is specifically what I do.I email someone high up in the company (or if I can't find an email address, drop it into the general email box on their web page). The email is brief -in your case it would be along the lines of "I am a graphic designer,I have experience doing X,Y, Z (list a few bullets), if you would like my resume and/or samples, please don't hesitate to contact me." I often add a link to my webpage. Some of the people that I send these emails to will request a sample(s), resume, etc.,but I let them ask rather than fill up their email box with unknown attachments.

This has worked for me for getting projects (maybe 1/7 to 1/10 emails = projects), and it can =an instant project or one a year or two later.Some people do ask if I would be interested in a job first, so I suspect that it would work well to do this for that approach,too.

Are there any resources out there that list design studios, book publishers, editors, writers, ... that one can send work to?

Here are a few places that I found these companies:

- Google "PDF" plus "email" plus (whatever your industry is)Plus"list. I found a list with about 200 companies like that a few yrs ago and that is how I found my first few clients.

-Find a journal for your industry. If the publish lists "best 10 digital companies" or whatever, peruse the list.Do you have work that matches what they do? Google the company and email them.

-Linkedin. There is 2 ways to do this.One ways is to participate/watch the groups.Someone did once post"What companies in state X do Y" and a person replied and shared his list. I followed up and emailed that person and grabbed a few clients from that list You can also search and look for the type of industry that you want by location, etc.

Some other ways that you may able to find a job, besides the traditional route:

-Recruiters (see if they use them in your industry first - if so, find out what they are like from your colleagues, then go with one).

-Do you have colleagues? Get the word out that you are looking (they may point you to a company).

-LinkedIn. If your skill set is very specialized (no idea if it is or isnt), LinkedIn is wonderful. Recruiters and clients find me this way. If you plan to do this, consider making a detailed profile, list specialized skills, include contact info and a link to your web page - with samples!

Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:54 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for your help Wolfster. I really appreciate it.
posted by omar.a at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2013

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