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My Graphic Design Journey

It all started when my 16-year-old self was sitting in a computer room in high school about to start an introductory graphic design class. I had no idea what to expect until our teacher told us we would learn about Adobe CS3 (before Adobe Creative Cloud) programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. My little heart was so excited, and after the first lesson, I fell in love!

I remember telling my mom that same day after coming home from school that I found I want to take a graphic design career path. She immediately said there’s no way I would make a living with a design degree during a recession. Note that I was a junior in high school in ‘08-’09, and the recession was so bad, my parents insisted that I should get a degree that would guarantee to get me a high-paying job. So, of course, my teenage self was upset, and I listened to my parents so I could pursue a career that I know I wasn’t going to love.

Fast forward to my third year at a community college. I was miserable. I changed my degree about four times in three years. It started in Architecture, changed it to Accounting, then Marketing and, the biggest mistake ever: Computer Science. My parents saw that I wasn’t doing well, and they noticed a change in my mood. One day, I told my mom that I am tired of this and said I want to become a web designer. She said, “Okay, find a 4-year college in the area that offers that.” So I did. I found that the Art Institute of Austin offered a dual bachelor’s degree in graphic and web design, and I got so excited and happy! I immediately asked for info and, the next thing you know, I was an art school student! My dream of becoming a graphic designer was going to come true!

Three years later, I graduated with a GPA of 3.6, was on the Honor Roll and President’s List multiple times, and eager to find myself a job. When I graduated, I was an intern at Austin Monthly Magazine after taking one layout design class. We learned about publication design and loved it so much I wanted to work at a magazine firm. I remember telling my internship supervisor that I would love to continue working here as a full-time employee, and she said they’re not currently hiring, but they will let me know. So I spent a year working as an intern there, earning minimum wage, but the money wasn’t a problem. I loved it no matter how much I was getting paid! But I was also trying to get hired at an agency for graphic design, and I couldn’t. Austin is a very competitive city for design, if you didn’t know, so I had horrible luck. I applied to around 100 places, and nothing. Some of my art school friends found a job, while others like me were struggling.

After my internship at Austin Monthly, I found a freelance job that I thought would hire me but didn’t. So I was unemployed for a few months from Jan-April. Still struggling to find a job, I had no other choice but to find employment to keep me busy while job hunting. I was a cashier at a local grocery store for a few months until, one day, I got an email from a small marketing agency that they’re interested in my work. They found my resume and portfolio from my art school’s mentor. I went in for an interview and got hired after a few minutes! I was so happy and excited to see what I was going to do.

Two years later, I have worked with hundreds of real estate agents in the Austin and Texas area on their marketing design materials, small corporations on layout, and much more. I even did some side gigs at home doing logo designs for my family, friends, and the community. But then, a couple of months before the pandemic hit, I got laid off unexpectedly. I had no idea what I was going to do until my mom said, “You have so much design experience under your belt. Why not go full-time with your freelance business?” And so I did. I was more focused on my business, sharing my projects and tips to the world on Instagram, generating clients by word of mouth and on that same social media platform; thanks to my friend, client, and coach Dre from Time of Dre Media for helping me how to do that!

Fast forward to today, I have invested and scaled my business to where it is now. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for that high-school graphic design class. Thanks to my family and friends for supporting me along the way! I can’t wait for what the future holds for myself and my design business.




Meet arlina

Arlina helps creative businesses establish memorable customer experiences with confidence. She partners with them to set their brand stories apart from competitors using strategic solutions.


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