Today we have Grant Friedman, a freelance designer and founder of Colorburned. Colorburned is a popular design blog that provides design news, resources, and tutorials from around the web.
Tell me more about your background. How did you get started in graphic design?
I got my start in graphic design about 10 years ago. Back then, the Internet was still relatively new to everyone. I volunteered to figure out how to distribute a newsletter to the membership of a student organization I was involved with over email.
It didn’t take much time before I began taking classes in HTML, Dreamweaver, and Macromedia Fireworks.
Eventually, I migrated over to Photoshop and Illustrator. Today, I’m a design junkie and couldn’t be happier!
How long have you been doing freelance work?
I’ve been doing freelance work since the beginning. I used to have a full-time job working for the government a while back but I’ve been freelancing and blogging full-time for a about 2 years now.
What type of projects do you typically work on (branding, website design, print design, etc)?
I will work on all sorts of projects. I’m happy to do branding, web design, or print but typically I like to work on projects that don’t involve a lot of code.
What tools/apps do you use to help manage your work?
I’m fairly old-school in terms of project management. I handle most of my projects through careful organization of email. There are a lot of project management apps out there but for the most part I’m just too small-time to make the most of them at this point.
What advice would you give to other freelance designers who are just getting started?
I always give the same advice to aspiring graphic designers. When you’re just starting out most people will try to take advantage of you. They will say things like -”since you’re just starting out we can’t pay you much money or we can’t pay you much but this job will be a great opportunity to build your portfolio”. Don’t let this happen! Whatever you do make sure that you are fairly compensated for your time. It’s very hard to get over the stigma of being some one who will do work for free. It’s better to be thought of as some one who charges a fair price.
I see that you have a book coming out entitled Retro Style Graphics (1000s of Style Palettes). What is it about the retro style that enticed you to write a book about it? When will the book be available?
If you were to tell me 5 years ago that I would be publishing a book in the near future, I would have called you crazy! But after my blog started to take off about a year or so ago, the thought of writing a book seemed a bit more plausible, although far-fetched. That was until Angela Patchell of Patchell Books contacted me about writing Retro Style Graphics. I’ve always been fascinated with retro-inspired design so I enthusiastically agreed.
The book is essentially a resource style guide of retro-style graphics. The book will include an attached CD which will contain Illustrator brushes, Photoshop brushes, vector graphics, textures, color palettes, lists of retro fonts, links to tutorials, and much more! The book should be available some time in October or November of 2009.
Tell me more about Colorburned. When did you start the blog?
Colorburned originally started as a means of promoting my portfolio. At the time, I had just left my position with the government and was preparing to find a design job in the private sector. The more I got into blogging, the more I found myself drawn to the freelance lifestyle. When my blog began to take off several months later I just kept at it. Now I rarely update my portfolio and plan to eventually migrate it away from the site.
How many people do you have writing for Colorburned?
There are 11 authors on the site but I am the only one who contributes full-time.
How often do you post new content?
I try to publish new content about 3-5 times per week.
Since launching Colorburned, how have you seen it grow. Walk us through the stats for the site 6 months after launch, a year after launch…
When I first started Colorburned in May of 2008 the site was receiving about 1,200 visits per month. By November of that year Colorburned was receiving over 60,000 visits per month. By July of 2009 Colorburned had doubled that figure and is now receiving about 120,000 visits per month.
In terms of RSS subscriptions, the site now has over 5,000 and growing. I have to say that one of the most flattering statistics however is the number of followers my site has on Twitter. By the end of September I’m hoping to have reached the 10,000 follower mark which would be an amazing accomplishment.
There are a number of plug-ins, scripts, and customizations within the design for Colorburned. Can you give us a list of these?
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin for displaying related posts
- Glider.js to power the slider for featured content
- Darren Hoyt’s TimThumb Script for auto-creation and auto-resizing of images to create the dynamic thumbnails below the featured content slider
There was also custom work done to integrate Twitter below each Commenter’s avatar as seen here:
For a nice run-down on the inner workings of the site check out this case study from E.Webscapes.
Give us the run down on the Hardware and Software you use.
Sadly, I’m currently running a couple of 5 year old Dell computers. I’ve been meaning to upgrade to a Mac but I’m holding out until one of them dies. In terms of software, I’m still running CS3 right now but will upgrade as soon as I buy a new computer.
Thanks for taking the time Grant. We look forward to following your continued success with Colorburned, your freelance work, and your new book.