Amber Asay, Graphic Designer & Art Director

Anecdote Candles Packaging | Amber Asay
Anecdote Candles Packaging © Amber Asay

Amber Asay is an award winning graphic designer and art director based in Los Angeles, California. She has had her work featured on Brand New, BP&O, The Dieline, Lovely Package, and more. Her client list includes Anecdote Candles, Mozi Magazine, UCLA & Disney. We love her less is more style and beautiful typographic work. Thanks for chatting with us Amber!

What do you do?

Branding / Packaging / Print / Web

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be in musical theater for the longest time! I was determined to go to broadway. I could go on and on about how our education system is not set up for realistic careers choices, but that’s another story for another time. Simply said, I was completely wrong about what I wanted to do and took longer than most to discover other talents and pursue them and finish school.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

I remember wanting to freelance ever since I graduated design school, but my professor chuckled when I said I’d put two years in at a studio and then go freelance. And he was right! It’s so hard to dive into freelance that soon into your career. So instead, I put 5 years into working at other studios before taking the dive. That time gave me the experience I needed, the time to build a name for myself, and the network necessary to find clients.

When you first started, how did you find clients?

Since I’ve been freelancing ever since graduating, I’ve slowly built up clients over time. It takes so much patience to build a network! My first couple years in, I only had about 5 clients a year. Luckily my full time jobs supported me.

Rapture Travels Branding | Amber Asay
Rapture Travels Branding © Amber Asay
What are the biggest milestones that have led to where you currently are in your career?

One major milestone 4 years ago, was getting fired! And no, it wasn’t because of budget, it was because they didn’t like my design! I attempted freelance at that time since I got pushed into it, and completely failed because I wasn’t prepared for it and didn’t find enough work. After 3 months I finally found a job at a small studio where I wore a lot of hats. I used this time to slowly build my portfolio while learning a lot about the business side of things. All those milestones were huge pushes to get me to where I am today.

Do you have a motto that you work by?

Work hard and be nice to people.

How do you stay productive?

I’ve gotten better at listening to my body and my creativity. Some days I’m not productive, and I accept that and don’t try to force work if I don’t have to. Other days, I wake up ready to tackle the day, and on those days I put in 12 hours of work because I’m ready and willing.

What are you working on right now?

I’m excited to announce for the first time ever, that I’m starting my own studio! After a successful first year of freelancing, I realized I need more help on my side. I’ve been slowly building up my team and getting all the paperwork in order. Check my instagram for another announcement about it!

Atelier Saucier Packaging | Amber Asay
Atelier Saucier Packaging © Amber Asay
Amber Asay Portrait
Do everything you can to foster your client relationships. Those will be your future referrals and growing network.
What is your dream project?

A bakery! I’m a huge sweets person, plus can you imagine the full packaging suite that could come from that? And don’t forget signage, photography art direction and website. I live for design that’s tangible and sometime to experience in-person, which is why I love projects like this.

What one piece of advice would you give to a freelancer just starting out?

Do everything you can to foster your client relationships. Those will be your future referrals and growing network.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

Yes = No. For every yes you say to a new project, it has to be followed by a no of something else (whether that’s another project, personal time, sleep…)

Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

That time I was fired was definitely the biggest struggle of my career. I doubted myself as a designer and didn’t think I was good anymore. I even started to question what I wanted to do for work. I focused my creative energy on opening an online shop and creating and selling prints. I even sold at several markets like Renegade and had a lot of fun with it. It was just what I need to hold me over during that depressing period.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Starting my own studio!

Colette Promo | Amber Asay
Colette Promo © Amber Asay
What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

Music is a huge inspiration to me. I am greatly influenced by music. Going to a coffee shop and putting earphones in and listening to good music is one of my secrets to productivity. The ebbs and flows of music styles and albums inspires me to use the same pacing in my own designs. It’s hard to describe, but if you know, you know.

What is your favourite piece of clothing?

I’m not someone to follow for fashion, but one of my favorite places to shop is Madewell. I just bought their highly rated low-cut bootie and I’m already in love.

What is the strangest thing about you?

Sometimes I don’t get hit with inspiration until 10pm at night, and then will work until 4am. I don’t recommend it, but it happens!

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?

Do-Hee Kim! She’s a huge advocate in the freelance community.

How can we find out more about your work?

You can follow me on instagram @amberasay and I also use Dribbble and Pinterest regularly too.