Michael Freeland

Graphic Designer

I’ve been interested in design and marketing for as long as I can remember. According to my mom, it began as soon as I could hold a pencil. There's a photo of me in a high-chair, drawing “perfect circles,” as she liked to recall.

Throughout my childhood I was so inspired by Walt Disney’s incredible storytelling that I dreamed of animating movies for the company one day. When PIXAR arrived on the scene, my fascination turned to the many unique ways in which a story could be conveyed visually.

When I learned I could turn graphic design into a career and use art in different forms — both traditional and digital — I was sold on that path and never looked back. I got a head start in high school, requesting special permission to learn Photoshop during art class. It was just me, on a computer in the art room closet, learning the basics of Photoshop 4.0. I continued learning after high school, getting a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Kansas State University and entering the marketing industry shortly afterward.

As of this spring, I’ve been a freelance graphic designer for seven years. As the owner and creative director of Mr. Freeland Design, I help clients tell their unique business story through creative design and strategic marketing. I love that I can help out a number of different industries — I'm not JUST selling coffee or apparel or marketing insurance or retail products. My client base is very diverse, from nonprofits to multi-state corporations and everything in between. I hope to stay self-employed for the remainder of my design career. Someday I may hire additional staff, but right now my work/life balance is perfect.

To anyone planning to study graphic design, whether at a university or through a two-year technical school program, I highly recommend taking business and entrepreneurial courses in high school along with your art classes. When I set out on my own as a graphic designer, I became everything else as well: the salesman, the customer service representative, the bookkeeper and so on. I learned a lot about running a business that first year, which would have been much easier with a little prior training.

Finally, never stop learning. Seek out counsel from mentors and stay on top of emerging trends and technologies. Both are extremely vital to your personal and professional growth.