goLancer of the Week: Chris Swanger
Chris Swanger is an accomplished freelancer here at goLance. His projects have included work with some of the top brands in the world including Nike, Oakley, Billabong, 5.11 Tactical, and Switch guitars. Chris has a keen eye and an open mind when it comes to creating visually stunning projects for both digital media and traditional print. He is versed in traditional art, graphic design, programming languages for UI/UX, along with web design and creation.
World Meet Chris Swanger– Our Freelancer of The Week …
INTERVIEWER: Tell me about yourself. What did you want to be as a kid?
CHRIS: I tried a little bit of everything. I’ve done anything from digging ditches, to working in fast food. I came to a point where I knew I was good at drawing, and wondered “What could I do as a career that involved drawing and not manual labor?”
When I was younger, I drew a lot. Most of my drawings were fantasy based, such as creatures, skeletons, and masks. They were crazy and filled with gore. This was when video games started to become widely popular. I took a class at Westwood College of Design for Adobe Photoshop and I fell in love with it. A buddy of mine had already worked with me and taught me about Photoshop, so in the class I essentially became a tutor to not only the students, but to the instructor as well. It struck me: that knowing Photoshop and graphic design could go somewhere for me. I was actually hired immediately after graduation to be an art director.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have any experience working in an office or 9 to 5 setting?
CHRIS: 9 to 5? It’s more like 9 to 8. I kept thinking that I was so tired of making $1,000 while the guy I’m working for was making a million. End of story.
INTERVIEWER: What was that like?
CHRIS: When you’re a graphic designer, you and the developer are the key to producing a real viable product out of nothing more than a sketch on a paper or napkin. When you’re getting paid $40 an hour, you think that’s good money, but he’s getting paid $400. You’re doing all the hard work and all the labor. Once I figured that out, I decided I’m going to be the guy at the top of the totem pole. It’s a big leap, it’s not a solid paycheck, but it’s an awesome adventure. You never know what’s coming every day, versus everyday being the same. I dove into the deep end.
INTERVIEWER: What was your big break into freelancing?
CHRIS: I got Nike on my own, and Oakley on my own, just by going in and pitching myself. That was a really big deal to me, and when I realized that I could do this (freelancing).
INTERVIEWER: What did you feel when you started working for big names and brands?
CHRIS: Satisfaction. It felt really good to know that trying something actually worked, exactly as how you had hoped it would. It’s a real good feeling. You also have to remember to stay grounded. Working with bigger names and brands might keep you away from working the smaller jobs. The big jobs might not always come in. You have to stay humble.
INTERVIEWER: What are some tips you have for maintaining a positive client-freelancer relationship?
CHRIS: Take your personal likes out of the equation. You might sit down and design something that you are absolutely in love with, but the client might come back and say they only like certain things. Some designers will not be open to criticism. If you cannot handle constructive criticism, especially from a client, you need to find a new career. The only way to maintain client relations is with my motto, “Always give them more than what they’ve asked.” I’m always going to go the extra mile for them.
INTERVIEWER: What impact has goLance had on your career?
CHRIS: It’s like adding nitrous oxide to a Toyota Celica, and beating a Ferrari in a mile run.
INTERVIEWER: That is awesome! So it’s been a real trip?
CHRIS: If I hadn’t of signed up on goLance, more than half of my jobs would not come to me. It increased my workload by 50% or more. I used to work on other platforms, but after my first gig on goLance, I shut down my profiles on other platforms. goLance just made more sense. The other platforms are a muddy puddle, a lot of feet are stomping in that puddle. goLance has a higher prestige of work that is delivered. goLance made it easier.
INTERVIEWER: How do you keep developing your skills?
CHRIS: I am constantly practicing my craft. So, how people take a shower, eat, drink, and walk every day; along with that, I design every day. Or I do photography every day, or I do something creative every single day. If I don’t have a job, I will hone in my skills by searching the newest trends and trying to mimic what I see.
INTERVIEWER: Would you ever give up freelancing for any other kind of job?
CHRIS: Only if I owned my own company. I am never going to work for someone ever again.
INTERVIEWER: What has freelancing taught you?
CHRIS: Patience and being humble. This industry is close knit. If you are good, everybody around you will know that you’re good. Staying humble is a key. Stay grounded.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the worst part about being a freelancer?
CHRIS: The feast and famine roller coaster. January through May, you start getting fed. May through August, you’re getting fattened up. You start feasting. When August hits, you’ll be lucky to get one job until January. You have to know how to keep the money, how to survive. You might not know when the next job will be.
INTERVIEWER: What’s the best part about freelancing?
CHRIS: Freedom! Freedom to choose and pick what I want to work on, to be in control of the process, not having anybody else as a middle man.
INTERVIEWER: If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you wish you could have shared with yourself when you were starting out?
CHRIS: Stay grounded.
INTERVIEWER: What advice do you have for freelancers just starting out?
CHRIS: Anybody going into freelance right now, I hope you have multiple skills and talents. If you just do one thing, you need to hone in your skills. It’s a dying industry (having one talent). Don’t be afraid to take chances, and go out of your comfort zone.
INTERVIEWER: Is there any other relevant info you want to share?
CHRIS: Life is a garden, dig it!
Why Did We Pick Chris As the Freelancer Of The Week?
Chris is an example of what hard work and dedication produces. With his many talents and skills, he has proved that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Freelancing was never the first-choice career for Chris, but after “Diving into the deep end” Chris has found a way to make things work. He serves as an inspiration for all of us here at goLance. Chris is living the life of his dreams; filled with the freedom of choice, control, and creativity.
Where Can You Hire Chris?
Drop Chris a line by visiting his profile on goLance.