Name: Rose Pajaroja
Location: Manila, Philippines
Topics of Interest: Graphic Arts, Data Visualization, Presentation Design
Occupation: Freelance presentation and instructional designer
Welcome to the latest Tuts+ community story, in which we meet Rose Pajaroja from the Philippines and hear about her long and sometimes painful journey towards making a living as a freelance designer.
The Dream Deferred
Rose started her interest in visual arts when she was just a kid. Inspired by her father, she enjoyed pastel and watercolor painting, as well as entering a lot of drawing and poster-making contests in school. One day, her grandfather told her that her talent would make her rich some day.
"That time, I already knew what I wanted to do when I grow up," she says.
However, things didn't happen quite as smoothly as she'd hoped. When she was choosing which course to take for college, her initial choice was Fine Arts or Architecture. But she did not come from a well-off family, and her parents told her that they couldn’t afford to buy all the materials that she would need if she took Fine Arts, so she had to take a different course.
After that, she didn't hold a paintbrush for years. She worked as a Customer Service agent and became a trainer and instructor eventually, but the dream of a design career never left her. She spent a lot of time working on training aids and materials when she was a trainer, and the experience of designing those visual materials reminded her of what she really wanted to do.
A Rocky Start
Rose left her job and decided to work from home as a designer. She put profiles up all over the internet, trying to get a decent job online that would support her and her family.
Eventually she got her first client, who asked her to design a presentation for him. But things did not go well.
During the middle of the day, he asked me if he could see it, so I sent him what I had done so far. Then I got, “Please stop working on it.” It really hurt.
Such a bad response from the very first client would have been enough to make many people give up. But Rose says she used it as motivation. Instead of trying to forget it, she has always remembered that first client and what he said, and challenged herself to keep improving her skills so that she was able to do a better job for future clients.
But the problem was that she had limited time and money to invest in training. She had experience with drawing and painting, but no experience with new programs like Adobe Creative Suite. Online learning provided the answer.
I came across Tuts+ when I was searching for free courses on design online. It was probably a couple of years ago or less. Taking an actual Graphic Design course would take a lot of my time and money, so it was really a treasure found when I started using Tuts+.
Rose says she learned most of what she knows about using Adobe Creative Suite from Tuts+ courses and tutorials. She's also learned a lot about typography and print design.
Where Rose Is Now
After a lot of hard work, Rose is making a success of her career as a freelance designer. She focuses on designing PowerPoint presentations, guides and user manuals, using Adobe Illustrator to design the elements for them, and also gets jobs designing documents, logos and eBooks once in a while. She has a roster of regular clients who come to her to get their work done.
Next, Rose plans to keep focusing on building her career as a freelance designer. She wants to build PowerPoint templates that she can list and sell in Envato Market, and she also wants to develop her own short course.
What words of advice does she have for people who want to pursue a career in design?
Love what you do and don’t stop learning. Working for the money is the wrong motivation. I realized this after more than 10 years of working a job I didn’t like.
Connect With Rose
If you want to connect with Rose to talk about freelance designing, online learning or anything else, you can reach her in the following places:
Or feel free to leave a comment below, telling us what you thought of Rose's journey. I'm sure she'd be happy to hear from you!
From now on, we'll be publishing reader profiles like this on the Envato Community blog, so be sure to head over there to catch future articles.