Ronard Kisambira is a freelance graphics designer and art director. The 30-year-old says after he has created a logo or brand, he feels a sense of pride just by watching people purchase the product or appreciating it. The designer, who attended the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts at Makerere University, says his father is the biggest fan of his work and has always supported him in every way.
How long have you been a graphics designer?
I fell in love with graphic design in 2002 when I was still in secondary school. I had a love for logos, branding and calligraphy. I wanted to know how these are created and curiosity led me here. I have been working professionally since January 2012, which is eight years in the field, and I have worked at different top advertising agencies in the country over the years.
What or who have been your most profound influences in this profession?
My secondary school, Jinja Secondary School gave me an opening. There, I saw A-Level students designing posters, logos and trademarks and that is when I decided I was going to be a designer. I also credit my curiosity for influencing me because as I grew up, I looked at and took interest in seeing different branded items, especially wordings on t-shirts, soda branding, and magazine adverts.
Before employing yourself, did you work for anyone?
I have worked with several companies such as Scanad Uganda, Adrenalin Warehouse, and QG Group. I also worked as a creative consultant at Movit Products Limited. However, I quit working for other people to do what I do best and love and seek for clients that are looking out for my specialty.
I was tired of doing what clients wanted just to get a pay cheque. I wanted to do what is right for the client and something that I can own, love and see grow into something bigger and better.
What is your typical day like?
My days vary but the basic things are that I begin with a cup of black coffee and then check my tablets for ongoing jobs and timelines. Some days are filled with meeting new and old clients, other days are purely production days that I spend on Nasser Road. Some days are for research and sketching out logo concepts and brand identity programmes.
Do the jobs come easily for freelance designers?
Jobs do not come easily. In fact, being freelance is the hardest decision one can make in this business. It is not easy to get big business; you need to advertise a lot and be known out there before you can be trusted with brands.
Some clients want to work with large corporations for obvious reasons such as security, large budgets and large bank balances, which most freelancers do not have.
Other clients prefer working with individuals, which makes the process faster since it is always a one-on-one interface with no middlemen or client service personnel.
Writers suffer writers block. Do you go through days when you lack creativity to come up with a new design?
Yes, I do suffer like anyone in the creative field. To overcome this, I watch lots of design movies and documentaries, I go to crowded places with open-minded people. This is always insightful. I also browse the Internet for ideas and sometimes, I take long walks.
Some people say designers are lazy. You give them work but they do not deliver on time.
Some clients do not give designers enough time and they want to rush a job. In this case, designers always think they can deliver but they fail. Clients are tough because they have paid and they think they can instruct and order designers around and yet some designers do not work well under orders.
Sometimes designers get so many projects and they fail to deliver on all. Also, some projects are just boring. Some clients expect way too much and they are not well versed with design so we are not on the same footing.
What opportunities are open to an aspiring graphics designer?
Well, most advertising agencies are always hiring young and hungry creatives so it is a good spot to hit. The freelance industry is also growing since there are always new companies setting up businesses and they need branding yet they cannot afford the big players.
For someone yearning to be a designer, what should they study?
They should study art in secondary school and then Industrial Art at university or advertising design or even graphic design.
What should they expect to find in the field?
Fire, because working long hours is a must if you are to make it. The field is growing and more clients are learning about branding and advertising, so there are opportunities of making it if you are consistent and creative.
What are the challenges of this profession?
Clients think you can do anything they throw at you or they think that the day they launch a brand or logo everyone will fall for it.
Another challenge is that some clients do not want to pay when the service is done, and also the tight deadlines that make me work for money, instead of giving out the best I can.
What advice do you give aspiring graphics designers?
Work hard and be passionate about what you create. Remember to design for money but keep in mind to design with love.
What do you wish would change in the profession?
I wish we had standardisation of design fees. We all work for different prices which is why the cheaper guy gets to do the work and in most cases, it is not the best work but it suits the price.