Two IFD Graphic Designer Success Stories

From time to time, you almost certainly feel a little lonely as you chug down the path to success. It always helps to have encouragement from others who’ve been on that same path, so we checked in with two graphic designers – both members of the Graphic Design Success Program – to get their stories.

Cassandra Lee is a relative newbie designer. Today, she tells how she took on last year’s Bootcamp Challenge … what happened … and what she learned.

Kammy Thurman, one of the first members of the GDS Program, is familiar to many of us. Her success story includes a peek into the way she was able to “liberate” her husband from his 14-hour-a-day workload.

A New Career with New Rewards

I admit it. I’m a computer and design junkie. But I also love the outdoors. If I’m not out working in my yard, you will find me fishing or hiking in the woods near my home in Mobile, Alabama.

Design has always been an important part of my life. While some little girls were dressing their paper dolls, I was looking at the textures and patterns of those paper clothes. As I grew older, I learned how to draw things on the computer before the Windows operating system existed!

But I became a high school teacher and – even though I designed the school newsletter and yearbook – I put graphic design on my back burner. Until, that is, I learned about the Graphic Design Success Program. That got me back on course doing what I really love.

Some people have trouble finding time to do their freelance work. But instead of trying to “find” time to either write (another passion of mine) or design, I “make” the time. We all lead such hurried lives that we have to make those things that are important to us a priority. Even if it’s just 20 minutes at the end of my day to do a little work, I take it.

When I read about last year’s Bootcamp Challenge – designing the cover of a digest for this year’s Bootcamp – I jumped at the chance. Why? Because it’s something I’d never done.

My family and friends evaluated my design drafts. They were not shy about telling me what changes they thought I should make. Their support helped me look at my work closely and question choices I’d made.

Their criticism and encouragement worked! Being announced as the winner of the Bootcamp Challenge and an “up-and-coming graphic designer” was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

Fulfilling My Dream Helped My Husband Fulfill His

I’m sure my husband, Ward, thought my jaw would hit the floor when he trudged in after work one evening last December and announced that he’d lost his job. I’m sure he expected me to panic.

Instead, his jaw hit the floor when, without a hitch, I declared, “Awesome! Now we can go ahead and open our photography studio!”

I was ecstatic. Now he could follow his dream of being a full-time photographer after years of squeezing his love of photography around a 14-hour workday in a mining company.

The very next day, we started looking for a studio location, and within two weeks found a gorgeous home on 3/4 of an acre that’s already landscaped like a park. We just closed on the property a week ago. We haven’t even finished moving in, and clients are already coming to the studio!

So we’re improvising – taking pictures in our great room while we build the camera room.

We’re having such a blast on this new adventure – picking furniture and paint for our sales room, mapping out the camera and dressing rooms, and thinking up fun ways to pamper clients when they come in for their portraits. Every time a client “oohs” and “aahs” over their images, we know we made the right decision to follow this dream.

And one of the reasons we can follow it is because of the copywriting and graphic design business I’ve built with the help of AWAI and other experts who’ve been so willing to offer candid advice over the years. My family wouldn’t be on this adventure without it, and it feels really good to know my business can finance much of the investment in our new studio.

Most important, it feels GREAT that I can help Ward follow his dream.

I often get emails from people asking if it is really possible to build a successful copywriting or graphic design business. My answer is unequivocally “YES!” … if they’re willing to work at it and surround themselves with knowledgeable people who challenge and encourage them.

Not only can you succeed … you just might be able to help someone else follow their dream too!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: March 27, 2007

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