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How do I handle this?


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Hello -

 

I'd love to get some input on how to handle references for a new job. I'm applying for a graphic arts entry-level position. I'm not certified nor did I study graphic arts in college. I only later found out in life that that was something I wanted to pursue. I've been studying and applying the skills -photoshop, illustrator, indesign on my own for the last couple of years.

 

I've been working on a minimal amount of freelance work and working on my own things to build up a portfolio. I've had it reviewed by other multi-media artist friends and whatnot, and from the comments they've given me, I'm pretty confident in my capabilities despite not having learned things from a formal institute.

 

I hadn't applied for a graphic arts position yet, because most of the requirements employers demand -is either you have a degree or 5 + years experience. The particular company that I'm trying to apply for now, is not as rigid and is more flexible about experience. They say applicants don't necessarily have to have had a ton of experience, and don't necessarily have to have a degree in graphic arts. They do want to look at your portfolio though and of course you must be skilled in using the required software programs.

 

Anyway, they also require two recent professional references. My current job position is not at all related to graphic arts, I'm in executive administrative support, and so, would it make any sense to get a reference from my current place of work? At my job I work mostly on my own -so it's not like the other colleagues in the office would have any idea about what I do in my administrative work, not to mention they don't know anything about my creative graphic arts work that I do on my own time.

 

Most times when I'm applying for a new job, for the reference, I usually put down my supervisor. However, this time, it would be inconvenient to do this, because my supervisor doesn't know I'm looking for a new job right now, and probably wouldn't be too excited about being a reference. How do most people handle this kind of situation?

 

Would it make any sense to put down clients for a reference? Considering they're the ones who actually receive and see my graphic arts work? When companies ask for professional references - usually it means your colleagues...but if you do freelance work, does that then also include ciients as a potential professional reference?

 

Would be glad to get some help with navigating this situation!

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I'm a graphic designer and what employers really want to know are whether you can work under pressure, take criticism, whether you have good attention to detail and that you can communicate. Your portfolio will communicate your artistic skills. But many artists are completely incompetent when it comes to being able to give the client what they want and working under pressure. So if you can get references to that effect then I don't think it matters where they come from. I got references from a client and former employer that wasn't art-related.

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