This post contains affiliate links.

A typical graphic design career usually looks something like this:

  • go to school, graduate with a BFA and work for a big company making the crappy graphics they require that use about a 10th of your skillset and none of your vision
  • discover your love of graphic design! You're self-taught, but lacking confidence. You take on bargain-hunting clients who constantly "hate" your work and demand a refund. Why did you get into this to begin with?
  • you are really good at what you do and feel pretty confident about the work product you put out. But geez clients, you can't expect me to work so fast for so little! No one seems to want to spend more and they all want things done yesterday #StressCity

*wheels screeching* Let's bring this cray cray train to a stop and look at three alternative careers graphic designers can take, sans ungrateful, cheap clients or a big box company that zaps all your creative juices.

1. Vector/Clip Art Designer

My friend and I were joking last week that no one calls it clip art anymore. Vectors, graphics, clip art- whatever you call it, it's making people BANK aka money.

Clip art is necessary for anyone with a blog, Facebook group, ads or online business.

My favorite place to buy clip art is Creative Market since it's so easy to search and find what I'm looking for in tons of different styles + price points. 

It may sound silly, selling $2-$15 products, but these add up over time. Just look at this graphic designer who I've been buying from for years-- she's made over a million dollars, selling clip art!

2. Font Designer

Similar to #1, above, is designing fonts. Obviously there's an advantage if you're already a calligrapher (click here to get my Get Calligraphy Clients guide for free!), but anyone can design a font.

Creative Market and Etsy make for ideal places to start selling, but so is DaFont, FontShop and Adobe TypeKit.

3. Surface Pattern Designer

Surface pattern design is a new one and I wish more people would consider it. You design beautiful patterns that can be printed on mugs, notebooks and more. After designing them once, companies in all different industries will want to license your designs. AKA do all the work to sell your stuff.

One example of this is my friend Bonnie Christine.


I remember when I met Bonnie—a famous surface pattern designer. This petite, soft spoken gal with the prettiest curly hair totally rocked my world when I learned what a unicorn she is. 

She lives in the middle of a forest in a custom built home with the most beautiful light. When she wants to, she sews by hand her children's clothes out of her own 
fabrics in a home that's been featured on major design blogs. Her husband keeps the family active, exploring trout ponds and deer tracks on near-daily hikes.

If you prefer...

...quiet cups of warm beverages in the morning

...afternoons spent in the sunshine, on a leisurely hike (or Antrho stroll, let's be real)...working when you want, without work disrupting your family time

...trying to find the magic Instagram formula once again
...putting content out there for?? you don't even know anymore
...wheels constantly spinning with never enough time or focus to move,

then you've got to try Bonnie's one weird trick I've been using since 2014!

It's controversial to tell you this, but I don't wake up loving life every day. I use this one trick to turn things around when I'm not very motivated. And the trick that Bonnie taught me is:

During seasons like this one when I feel unmotivated and sloooooow to start every morning, it's easy to get overwhelmed. That's when I remember I only have to do ONE thing every day that moves the needle just a leeeeeetle tiny bit.

And personally, my favorite thing to do during these slow, cold months is to invest in a solid online course that I look forward to knocking out day-by-day. While it won't be right for everyone, Bonnie is offering a Surface Pattern Design Immersion course that is perfect for those need-more-sugar-at-3-in-the-afternoon kind of days.

Pssst- I will get a commission if you choose to buy her course through any of my links in here. Jump down to my "P.S." section at the bottom to see why this is actually a great thing for you! (Hint: lotsa' bonuses)

learn about alternative careers for graphic designers
What the heck is Surface Pattern Design?

You know that cute repeating design on your thermos, pencil case, notebook cover or makeup bag? Those are all surface pattern designs. Bonnie's book cover is actually one of her fabrics here:
Who is this for?

This is an ideal fit for anyone who:

  • designs their own graphics for their blog, opt-ins, freebies, Facebook promos and more but wants to stand out more
  • is a current or aspiring graphic designer
  • wants to get into licensing clip art, vectors or surface patterns to big wig companies like Target and Anthro
  • doesn't even know what Adobe Illustrator is
  • doesn't feel confident working in Adobe Illustrator
  • wants to add digital products to their revenue streams-- you can sell clip art and vectors on Creative Market, Etsy and more
  • is looking for a creative outlet but doesn't want to deal with the mess of real-life painting, drawing or calligraphy

Bonnie will be fully accessible and active in the private student portal, answering questions, providing feedback and sharing ideas and inspiration along the way.

Here’s what you’ll learn during these 8 weeks:

  • Learn Adobe Illustrator like a boss
  • Create repeating patterns that make your friends swoon
  • Learn about how to create collections, and how this saves you time
  • Create a portfolio that people actually give an eff about
  • Choose an industry so your career can skyrocket from the start
  • Make the connections you need, even if you're introverted like me
  • Find your signature style!!! Wouldn't it be great to stand out with your work for once instead of fighting over all the noise?
  • Contracts, licenses and copyrights, oh my! Yours truly will drop the 411
  • The insider industry resources Bonnie herself took YEARS to discover (<< and yes, she really does give it all away)
  • Confidence as a designer, even if you're starting from scratch (Bonnie is actually pretty new to this field and didn't go to school for graphic design!!)
  • How to publish your ‘complete package’ and have fabric, notebook, rug and tote bag companies emailing you on the reg
  • How to stay motivated & inspired, even when the cat's puking, it's 4 degrees and your coffee is cold (bleh!)

P.S. Bonnie has over 50,000 students combined from her past courses that have some of the highest ratings and reviews-- this is why I proudly support her as an affiliate. 

And, if you buy through this link, you'll receive these additional bonuses, worth over $5300, which pays for the course 5x over:

  • Three monthly group Q+A call with me for added support + accountability from March-May ($500 value)
  • $100 credit to The Contract Shop® ($100 value)
  • The Winning Creative's Way e-course that teaches you how to price your work + profit when it gets stolen ($997 value)
  • A private slack channel with weekly connection prompts during the course to connect on a smaller scale with your peers, aka an introvert's dream! ($500 value)
  • My Perfect Client Funnel with email templates, not sold online but only given to my high-end consulting clients! ($3100 value)