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The Designer Behind the Apple Logo Talks About Freelancing

Photos: Courtesy of Rob Janoff

Rob Janoff, who designed the Apple logo, is an internationally recognized graphic artist. And with that recognition comes the challenges of global freelance work.

As communication technology improves, so do the limits that were previously imposed by distance. Remote work is now not only possible, but increasingly the norm. “It’s all so different. I find it fascinating,” Janoff says. “I find it so much more refreshing to have these new cultural and language issues to deal with and to add to what we do, which is to understand the client’s issues and what they want to get across.”

Collaborating remotely

Even though his work is primarily international and remote, Janoff still values the collaboration that he’s always appreciated about advertising. “It’s not nearly as exciting working on a project by myself, and advertising problems involve much more discipline,” he says. “You have an idea, and then you get to work with all kinds of different people. Letting other people put their expertise in just improves whatever I’ve done in such a grand way.”

As his work evolves, Janoff enjoys working with affiliate designers in other countries. “It’s a great way to get both of our businesses going,” he explains. In working with fellow graphic designers, he’s found that “there are people all over the world looking at things the way I look at them, and it’s interesting to see how other people solve the same problems.”

Understanding the laws and protocols of other countries has been one of his greatest learning experiences. Getting through the different levels of approvals between the client and respective governments “can be frustrating but also interesting.”

Getting a start in freelance

He also understands the frustrations that come with simply getting started in freelance design. “It’s really scary to go out on your own,” he admits. “We are sort of programmed to go to work for somebody, as that’s what our parents did, but it’s all different now.” Janoff describes the advertising industry as becoming more serious since he got his start. With that, he recommends freelancers to build relationships with those that have skillsets other than their own, like business and account management.

“I keep thinking, ‘What if I didn’t go to work the day I got that job?’” he says, reflecting on his first job at Apple with Steve Jobs. “It’s so weird how little things change your life.”

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