From Amateur Artist to Freelance Graphic Designer at Age Eighteen

4 min readApr 25, 2018


I was speaking to my Computer Science professor last week attempting to land a job as a Teaching Assistant for his class. At one point in this mock interview he asked: “How do you work with other people?” “I have a partner I work with on the regular to create graphics and I’ve learned to communicate efficiently as a result,” I replied. This was not the question he was asking — he wanted to know if I can work with students — but he was rather impressed with how I pushed myself into the graphics market at eighteen years old. Entirely on accident, this turned out to be a better talking point than the ones I had actually prepared.

I never thought this was a big deal. My experience with Twitch streaming already had me competing against other content creators in design elements like emotes and panels. I did realize, however, that MergedStudios, — my freelance graphic “company” — is something I can talk about with more passion than my 3.9 GPA or my spot on the Dean’s List.

We live in a day and age where creating websites, utilizing social media, and starting online businesses are commonly accessible. Someone can create their own personalized website with a handful of clicks and maybe a few dollars. Around age 13, I used Instagram to take pictures of my nail polish art. The feedback I received from these posts pushed me to keep creating and work harder.

Archived photo from my Nail Art Instagram

In the following years, my interest in nail art shifted to pastels, pencil sketching and acrylic painting. I created a website through Weebly to showcase my acrylic paintings and picked up a couple commissions from family members. When my friend Tom started his YouTube channel, he knew about my background in art and asked if I could make a logo and thumbnails for his channel.

My first logos originally created in Microsoft Paint, recreated in Adobe Illustrator

Most people associate graphic design with complex, professional programs like the Adobe Creative Suite, but I made my start using an old standby: Microsoft Paint. I created Tom’s first logo in Microsoft Paint and it wasn’t until later that I was able to fix it up in Adobe Illustrator. I was determined to learn these programs from A to Z. I sat through tutorial after tutorial trying to draw out the knowledge I had of Photoshop and Illustrator back from sophomore year in high school. Digital art turned out to be the most difficult for me to learn in comparison to tangible mediums, but I had started to realize that a market for these artworks exists out there on the internet.

My first digital art client ever was MattGrundy89. Grundy needed graphics for his channel and I was simultaneously shocked and honored that he would trust me to represent him in that way. Grundy then referred me to one of his friends, and this went on to create a domino effect of future clients. It illustrated how one person or one opportunity can open the door for many more, which is an impact that can’t be underestimated.

About a year later, I was considering quitting digital art or limiting commissions due to the pressures of my education. Tom started to help me with graphics when I was stuck or did not have time. He knew the basics of Adobe’s software, as he had worked a lot with Premiere and After Effects for his YouTube channel, and I came to realize that our combined knowledge had some interesting potential

Together, we created MergedStudios, appropriately named for the merging of two separate art and editing enthusiasts investing their time into learning Adobe software. MergedStudios now works with a regular stream of clients, while we continue to hone our skills and further our knowledge of the medium. It’s become my first formal job and I’m excited for where the future might take us.

Looking back on what I’ve accomplished so far, I can easily say MergedStudios is the creative endeavor I’m most proud of. I feel more confident talking about it in an interview and I have many visions for where I want to take it moving forward. I believe that if you want to get better at something, you have to dedicate a significant part of your life to it. Aspirations like MergedStudios don’t create themselves, you have to go out and build them yourself. If you have a strong enough passion for something, pursue it, even if it seems unlikely. You never know where it might take you.