Head First to Toptal

I was born on a busy archipelago off the coast of America, and I have been fascinated by geographies of all kinds ever since. Though I was trained as a filmmaker, during college I rediscovered my lifelong passion for maps and decided that pursuing a creative career in the field of design and cartography was best suited for me, someone who is highly self-motivated, gravitates to multiple projects at once, and is obsessed with telling stories about place and space through verbal and visual form.


Early on I realized that the best way to do this was to forge my own path; I would not be able to find the type of work suitable to me by working a job with an organization that needed a pre-fabricated role satisfied. My skills satisfy a niche market that is scattered across a vast field of clients, ranging from resorts, to music festivals, non-profits, and magazines. It occurred to me early in my career that I would need to freelance in order to do this successfully.


Undaunted by the unknown and motivated by my desire to match my vision with a variety of clients needs, I gradually built relationships for one-off projects. The only difficulty was that often times, clients had their needs satisfied after only project. My desire to build relationships was stymied by the reality of the market.


But then I heard about Toptal Visual Designers.


At Toptal, an organization known for its selectivity, clients represent as high of a standard as the freelancers that they hire. There is a much higher chance that the projects clients offer will be recurring and that they will demand much more thought and quality than one in the corporate world. Because of the challenge of developing high quality products, clients are more willing to work with their freelancers, rather than simply delegate a task without much discernment.


Beyond that, there is the ease of access to a variety of clients and projects. Even if project’s are administered to me just once, I know that I have a reliable pool of potential projects at my disposal. I can sort through projects that are best suited to my skills and values, and the potential to keep multiple projects afloat becomes greater when everything is located conveniently in one place.


Then there is the added benefit of being able to work remotely. In the design word, efficiency is key, and there is nothing less efficient than having to commute regularly to a place of work and holding meetings with employers that could have been done just as effectively from one’s home. Creative professionals are also highly sensitive to their surroundings, and the comforts of the home help to reduce stress while the pressure to produce is at its highest. Given the fact that I travel frequently between my home in New York and Chiang Mai, Thailand, having the flexibility of location allows me to optimize my lifestyle so that my time spent away from work truly helps to recharge my batteries.


For a designer who has never found working in an office the most rewarding environment, the online freelance world offers me the best opportunity to find long-term work that is suitable to my skills and values, highly selective, and affords me the flexibility of location independence. There might be much to do out there, but I am ready to take the leap.