Jessica Comingore is a Los Angeles-based designer, art director, and photographer. Over the years Jessica has worked with The Ace Hotel, Freunde von Freuden, Heath Ceramics, Lincoln Motor Company, Macy's, Madewell, Warby Parker, and West Elm. Her work has been featured in Anthology Magazine, Remodelista, Dwell Magazine, Elle Decor, Design*Sponge, The Huffington Post, and Refinery 29. She currently operates her own creative studio and authors The Elysian Edit, a website dedicated to the art of refined living.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
I put the word out that I had gone freelance and a lot of my initial work was through word of mouth, or prospective clients finding me through my blog. It was a fairly organic process; inquiries came in and I took on anything and everything that came through the door (as you often do when you're just starting out). It wasn't until about a year in that I got my first big client (a referral from a colleague) that needed ongoing, consistent services. In that sense, networking is always a positive thing and it never hurts to reach out to your dream clients too and show them what you've got. My motto for as long as I've been out of school is, "all anyone can ever say is no."
"It never hurts to reach out to your dream clients too and show them what you've got. My motto for as long as I've been out of school is, 'all anyone can ever say is no.'"
What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?
Work / life balance! Without a doubt. I know the expression is pretty exhausted at this point, but I feel like I didn't really embrace this concept until this past year. For as long as I could remember, I had always viewed them as one in the same. I enjoyed working so I always had my hands in a million projects and enjoyed chatting with other creatives doing the same so I cultivated a large network of like-minded friends. Naturally, I burnt out, and have since implemented a lot of changes that have made work and life two very different things for me. I always remind myself that at the end of the day, it's just a job. And it's my responsibility to set those boundaries.
What is your favorite thing about being a freelancer?
The challenges and the variety. Every day I'm faced with a new question or situation that I have to navigate my way through and maybe I don't get it right on the first try, but it's always a wonderful learning experience. I also love that every day can be a little different since my studio offers a multitude of services. One day may be behind the screen designing a website, the next day on location for an interior shoot, the next day sitting in the studio hand sketching concepts for a new identity project. It keeps things fresh and interesting!
Tips for dealing with the nitty-gritty business details?
Outsource. Whenever you can, outsource. Though it can be fun to run every little bit of a business, it's extensive and often exhausting, not to mention it takes away from what you do best: being creative! Whether it's accounting, administrative tasks, production design work or picking up samples, get someone on board who can help you out with those time-consuming tasks. It'll pay off tenfold.
The 3 greatest attributes you need to be a freelance designer are:
A strong sense of aesthetic, passion, organization.
Thank you Jessica for your amazing insight!