A Look into In-House Design | Bypeople

A Look into In-House Design

In the graphic design industry, designers are generally placed in three roles and find work through three types of employment: freelance, agency, and in-house design. Freelance design is performed by the self-employed; individuals who sell their services and skills wherever they can. Both new and seasoned graphic designers turn towards freelancing: therefore, fresh graphic designers may find it difficult to gain a foothold in the market. However, freelance designers are constantly on the search for clients, sometimes successful, sometimes not.

On the other hand, agency designers are employed by a firm or agency that specializes in design services. The individual lives in a creative environment, working with clients on a variety of projects. However, the agency life is not without its own disadvantages. Graphic designers often run into creative differences with clients, who are looking for a particular image or identity. Given enough time, the long hours and fast-pasted nature of the work can cause the designer to burn out quickly.

Advantages of In-House Graphic Design



One of the most appealing qualities of in-house graphic design is the stability and security of the position. In-house graphic designers never have to worry about searching for clients or waiting for their next invoice; with a stable job, they know exactly when the next paycheck is arriving. Given a stable salary and benefits, in-house graphic designers can work in relative comfort.

Lack of Contract Negotiation

Oftentimes, freelance designers must negotiate contracts with their clients, discussing a payment rate in exchange for hours worked. Negotiations can be a lengthy, stressful process, as clients and designers struggle to reach a balance. With in-house graphic design, employees instead work at a fixed rate while understanding the details of their assignment.

Cohesion with a Company

One of the main problems that arise for freelance designers is the inability to understand completely what their clients need. Many clients are unclear with their requirements or give vague directions, resulting in graphic designers constantly turned back to their drawing board. On the other hand, in-house designers often know exactly what their company requires. A company has a specific product, brand, or image that they wish to portray. Therefore, in-house designers are equipped with the specific, intimate knowledge needed to complete their projects.

No Difficult Clients

In-house designers only work for one client – their company. Though there are a fair amount of managers and executives that have little knowledge of graphic design, many trust in the skill and expertise of their employees. Therefore, there are a fair amount of managers that give their in-house designers relative freedom and independence. However, the situation is vastly different for the freelance designer. The internet is filled with horror stories of difficult clients who lack design knowledge, yet demand impossible requests from freelancers. Through in-house design, the individual can say goodbye to missed invoices, unfeasible projects and demanding clients.

Disadvantages of In-House Graphic Design


Restrained Creativity

Every company has a specific identity and brand or a particular image they wish to portray. Therefore, graphic designers are often required to work within this environment, producing images that are consistent with the corporate identity. After completing one project after another, all with a similar style and image, it’s easy for the graphic designer to feel the restraint in creativity.

Boring Environment

A desk job may not be the dream environment for the aspiring graphic designer. Depending on the company, many in-house graphic designers work in an office or cubicle, often in a non-design environment. Another factor that plays a role in the graphic designer’s work is the nature of the projects. Some graphic designers are required to create logos, while others are responsible for editing brochures and flyers. If the graphic designer’s work is unvaried, then he or she may quickly tire of working on one similar project after another.

Lack of Feedback

In some companies, the sole graphic designer can be the entire Graphic Department. While this can lead to independence and relative freedom, it may be difficult for the graphic designer to obtain meaningful feedback on his or her work. The in-house graphic designer must often rely on the thoughts of inexperienced coworkers, who give vague advice or feedback. Advice such as “It needs more color” or “can you make it different?” leads the designer nowhere.

Successful In-House Designers

There are a fair amount of companies, both large and small, that are looking to add a graphic designer to their team. This specific role is often referred to as an in-house designer, an individual that is employed by a company or business as a full time designer.

In-house graphic designers are granted with a fair amount of benefits, such as stable payment and the opportunity to rise within a company. However, the role also has its disadvantages, such as the conservative and stifling environment and resistance towards creativity. When looking for employment, the individual should carefully weigh the pros and cons of becoming an in-house graphic designer.

Dennis Hwang

Originally Google’s international webmaster, Dennis Hwang is responsible for designing the specialty Google logos known as “doodles”. Since 2000, Hwang have been creating these variations on the Google logo, which often appear on special occasions and holidays.

Google Doodle

Dennis Hwang, or Hwang Jeong-mok is a graphic artist who designs the festive logos for Google on special days. He designed his first logo for Google in honor of Bastille Day, July 14, 2000, at the request of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and has been designing the specialty logos ever since.” reference taken from crunchbase.com

George Opperman

Atari’s first in-house graphic designer. In the early seventies, he was responsible for designing the Atari logo, famed for its similarity to Mt. Fuji and its references to the game Pong.


George Opperman (1935–1985) was a graphic artist at Atari who created the original Atari logo and created the art for Atari’s coin-op cabinets and back glass artwork for Atari pinball games, such as Airborne Avenger and Superman.” reference taken from wikipedia.com

Susan Bradley

Working at Walt Disney Studios for a number of years, Susan Bradley is well known for her work on the Pixar film Ratatouille. One of her notable achievements was creating a custom typeface for the credits sequence of the film. ratatouille_b

Susan Bradley has a wealth of experience in title design, graphics and direction in the movie industry. She was manager of Walt Disney Studios’ Title Graphics Department for six years before moving on to design titles for a number of live action films. In 2006 she teamed up with the Pixar gang and was involved in their animated success, Ratatouille.” reference extracted from kevinpassmoremd210.blogspot.com

Brian Edlefson

A designer previously at Target, Brian Edlefson currently leads the Global Consumer Design studio at Whirlpool.


“As a lead designer in Whirlpool Corporation’s multi-disciplinary Global Consumer Design studio, Edlefson is responsible for infusing household brands like Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, and Amana with smart graphic design strategies. Prior to moving to Michigan, Brian developed design solutions at Target, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Herman Miller, and McDougal-Littell Publishing.” reference extracted from sessions.edu

Carol Walter

A successful in-house graphic designer with extensive years of experience, Carol Walter has worked with a number of notable companies, including Nintendo, Microsoft Game Studios and REI. She currently works as the senior graphic designer at Community Health Plan of Washington.


“(…)Award-winning Senior Graphic Designer / Art Director, with 20 years of experience (…) has specific industry knowledge marketing and designing for adventure travel, retail gear and apparel catalogs, retail signage, direct mail marketing, healthcare, educational book publishing, editorial travel magazine publishing, home industry magazine publishing and video games.” reference extracted from creativehotlist.com

Brad Klausen

Starting from 1999, Brian Klausen served as the in-house graphic designer for the rock band Pearl Jam. After nine years, he expanded his work to other famous bands, such as Soundgarden and Widespread Panic.


“Brad Klausen started designing rock posters for Pearl Jam back in 2004. Since then he has became one of Pearl Jam’s main artists and has gone on to create posters for many other bands such as Widespread Panic, Built to Spill, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, TV On The Radio, Faith No More, MGMT and more.” reference from thefadedline.com


Rachel Hyun Kim

Writer for Resource Nation, an online resource that gives advice such as lead generation to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Rachel has written on a variety of topics, ranging from phone systems and merchant services.

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