Graphic design is communication. An individual with a passion for art is not the same as a graphic designer. A graphic designer understands trends and consumer preferences and what it takes to elevate a product from just another of its kind to the one that will sell. The quality of the product itself is of course the primary driver of its marketability, but the design of the packaging and advertising is a close second in influencing consumers to choose it over others. Identical products in packages with different graphic design will sell differently, and choosing a professional designer with an eye for what consumers want is key to reaching the target customers.
Louis Everard is a freelance graphic designer who recently became a part of the NTNU Accel office community. Louis’ affection for Scandinavian design drew him to Trondheim in 2013 at age 19. He brought with him just 2 suitcases and some experience studying visual communications but also an eagerness to do whatever it took to develop his graphic design skill into a career. In his new home he was more motivated to pursue this passion as a career that previously was more of a distraction from his studies than the focus of all his effort. As he’s grown as a designer here in Trondheim, he’s been able to develop a novel business model to make graphic design more accessible to small businesses with limited budgets.
Lacking experience and technical knowledge about the digital forms of the field prevented him from landing a design job, so he found work locally in restaurants, a comfortable position considering his past jobs in kitchens. One of Louis’ first graphic design “gigs” was making event posters for the local student union, Samfundet. This job was an integral part of his development as a self-taught graphic designer as it gave him access to advanced digital tools for design and a highly visible venue to display his talent. His previous experience earning a visual communications certificate before formal graphic design education is far from the traditional path of modern graphic designers, but developing a good base of knowledge about communications is a vital component of what makes him competitive as a freelance designer.
Louis insists that any business can be improved by professional graphic design. His passion for the craft led him to apply to several large design firms, but was turned down for lack of experience each time. Instead of being discouraged by this rejection, he was inspired to find a better model for what graphic design services could be. Restaurants require artwork and printed material in may places, from menus to signs to posters and more. As often as possible, Louis found ways to meet the small design needs of the restaurants where he worked, but he also observed the interactions between the owners and the large firms who were contracted to provide for most of their graphic design needs. He observed the exorbitant fees charged for small changes to menus, for example, and knew there had to be a better way. Attention to detail is key as a graphic designer to communicate the best message through design, and Louis’ attention to detail also helped him develop a new way businesses can interact with designers.
The unique business model Louis created makes high quality and professional graphic design accessible to smaller businesses and startups who may have far smaller budgets than would afford any services from a larger firm. Instead of large fees charged per job from a client, he charges a monthly fee, like a subscription fee, that allows the client to request any amount of work during their 6-month contract. At the end of the 6 months, the client and Louis discuss the workload and delivered products and how the monthly fee may need to change. Louis has found that of the clients that have renewed their contracts after 6 months, most agree to an increased fee as they are so happy with his designs and the competitive pricing structure compared to what is typical in the field.
The novel format of Louis’ freelance work allows him to gain practical experience in the graphic design field. The pay-per-month scheme is advantageous for both small businesses and Louis himself as he’s able to have a lot of control over his workload. He acknowledges the risk of being exploited that exists with this model, but thus far he has been able to manage his contracts well without the issue of spreading himself too thin. As this idea grows into a stand-alone business, he aims to one day employ several more designers in their own space to expand the availability of this unique service to more clients.
Louis describes his design as focusing on simplicity and clean edges, a reflection of his affinity for Scandinavian design. When illustrating by hand, he prefers to use ink in what is sometimes called an etching style. The roughness and permanence of ink used in this style can be seen across his work already seen in windows and on shelves locally.
Having a desk at NTNU Accel puts Louis in direct contact with both startups who could benefit from his services and mentors who can help him grow his idea into a sustainable business. In-person communication is very important to him so the ability to be face-to-face with clients at NTNU Accel to understand their needs and expectations helps improve his ability to provide high quality design.
“Being here is an amazing opportunity and I feel so lucky. The amount of help offered by NTNU Accel and their friendliness is really unmatched” -Louis Everard