Case study

Graphic designer — Jono Lewarne

Jono wanted to be a graphic designer since he was a kid, but some less-than-insightful careers and education advice lead him to train as a geneticist. After figuring out he didn't want to do that forever he took some time out and retrained

How did you become self-employed?

I set up my own studio, City Edition Studio, immediately after I finished studying as there was no way I could survive on junior designer money as a mature graduate. I thought if I was going to earn very little for a year or two, it might as well all end up in my pocket rather than some of it in someone else's.

I didn't have any grants, but I was lucky to get a couple clients straight away that kept my head above water for the first six months. There were no costs initially as I was using just my laptop and working out of my flat.

Understand yourself as a designer. Know what interests you and what conditions you respond to best

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Absolutely vital. The most helpful skills I learned at uni were critical reflection and an ability to enquire about new subjects, something designers encounter every day. Knowledge of various print processes was also essential and has enabled me to work with printers with no issues.

What do you do day-to-day?

A day normally involves working on a variety of design projects for clients in the arts and various sectors of industry. If I have time, some reading and researching.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I've had to learn about the business side of running a studio, invoicing, client relationships, etc. I'd like to be in a position in a few years' time to be able to employ an assistant full time as a creative collaborator. It's fun to work through ideas with someone else as well as getting a different perspective on a problem.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Everything apart from chasing invoices. The research stage of a project is particularly interesting to me. I love the variety of subject matters I encounter and learn about.

A project that I researched heavily was a fluid identity system for the Arnolfini's Parallel Universe season. The research lead me quite deep into some experimental areas of astrophysics, which was great! Without that understanding there is no way I could have arrived at the solution that I did, which the client was thrilled with.

What are the most challenging parts of working as a graphic designer?

Trying to understand what a client really wants when they're not sure.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Understand yourself as a designer. Know what interests you and what conditions you respond to best. As time goes by you'll be able to develop those conditions and also be able to spot unsuitable working conditions and environments and avoid them as necessary.

Find out more

See what opportunities are available with City Edition Studio and the International Society of Typographical Designers (ISTD).