Academy of Art University: How an Art & Design Degree Closes the Skills Gap and Fills the Employment Void with Freelancing

Freelancers are changing the course of the economy during this unpredictable time. Self-employed freelancers of all trades from photography to illustration, to graphic design, are utilizing this time to their advantage through innovation. According to a recent report shared by Upwork, freelancer income contributes to almost $1 trillion or 5% of GDP.

This market continues to increase as independent workers recognize the empowering benefits of creating their own schedules, increased flexibility, and managing their own clientele as opposed to working for an agency. In addition, many companies recognize the need for skilled professionals who are independent and have already had their own training in their respective fields. For example, a publishing company can easily hire a freelance Illustrator to create a book cover.

Academy of Art University offers specialized degree programs across a wide range of creative industries and fields. It works to create a space for artists and designers to thrive by giving them opportunities to gain real-world experience.

A Growing Market for Freelancers

Given today’s work climate where thousands of Americans are following social distancing guidelines and many companies have implemented work from home initiatives, freelancing allows for flexibility and growth. Freelancing offers a highly diverse and dynamic work environment for those who are prepared with the right skills. It offers a flexible work environment as opposed to working out of an office. Many working professionals are drawn to freelancing because it allows them to work independently on their own schedules along with handling client relationships. Companies that want animations or videos created to promote their products have the benefit of hiring someone experienced in those fields including illustration, technical writing, graphic design and so on.

Freelancers can utilize the hours in the day where they perform the best to increase productivity. In addition, it allows professionals to turn their passions into careers that they’re able to manage however they choose. This can also give them the ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world or from home. Many are taking this as an opportunity to travel and live around the world for extended periods of time.

COVID-19 has presented a new challenge for companies that did not already have a work from home policy in place. Many companies that already implemented work from home policies were more prepared to make the switch.

Companies are beginning to recognize the value of hiring experts who are already trained as opposed to hiring someone in-house. Freelancers are well equipped to handle the changing job market as they’ve adjusted to the challenges of working independently.

Challenges of Freelancing

Although freelancing has its benefits, the growing market of freelance professionals face challenges such as finding access to affordable healthcare and having to continually grow their client base. Many freelancers rely heavily on routine and discipline, so this type of work could be an adjustment for those who work more productively in an office environment. Those who work remotely also face the challenge of having to continually build client relationships in order to maintain a steady income. This means they always have to be one step ahead with financial planning and saving.

Education, Growth, and Learning

While many freelancers are self-taught, there are also many freelancers who have been specially trained in their respective fields. Being well trained in your craft as a freelancer is essential for growth and increased opportunities. Having an art and design degree can give a freelancer an advantage. Academy of Art University, a leading accredited art and design school based out of San Francisco, offers specialized training in a wide array of fields such as Industrial Design, Illustration, and Fashion Design, among many others. Academy of Art University gives students the ability to work hands-on in developing their creative skills and opens up avenues to network with industry professionals.

Corporate Partnerships and Internships

Academy of Art University’s School of Industrial Design has a variety of corporate partnerships in place so students get the chance to gain real-world experience while working with professionals in the field. These unique partnerships provide valuable, hands-on learning opportunities for our students, and allow partnering organizations the unique opportunity to collaborate with emerging designers.

Recently, Subaru partnered with the university to give students the challenge of creating a vision for the Subaru brand in 2030. NASA has worked with the Academy of Art University for 8 years in a class that challenges students to address outstanding problems they face with Astronaut space travel. General Motors also teamed up with the Industrial Design students to create Buick Velite Concepts. They were guided by Thamer Hannona, GM Senior Designer, Frank Saucedo, GM Director Advanced Design California, Antonio Borja, Director, School of Industrial Design, and Claudia Dallendoerfer, Web New Media.​

In addition to corporate sponsorships and internships, the Academy of Art University also offers business-focused classes for graduate and undergraduate students in unique degrees such as Fashion Art Direction. The school offers a wide range of online courses and degree programs in addition to their in-person courses.

Armed with nurtured creativity and developed skills for business and the technicals, Academy of Art students graduate ready to be creative professionals, whether as part of a corporate environment or as a freelancer on their own. The creative industries are in need of individuals who can rise to the challenge, and students are prepared for the challenge.