Whitney Anderson, Graphic Designer

The Sunday Standard | Whitney Anderson
The Sunday Standard package & print design © Whitney Anderson

Whitney Anderson is a graphic designer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that specializes in hand lettering, typography, branding and illustration. She is also the the boss babe behind her one woman studio, Wit and Co., where she creates beautiful vintage inspired paper goods and small wearables. Her client list includes Disney, Lululemon, Moo and Taste of Home among others. Thanks so much for chatting with us Whitney!

What do you do?

I’m a graphic designer, with a focus on branding, packaging, illustration and lettering. Most of the projects that I work on contain some sort of hand drawn illustration elements or hand drawn typography. I love being able to bring those special skills to the table for clients.

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

In my youngest years I wanted to be an actress (I’m glad that never panned out, as I’m not a fan of the spotlight as an adult.) But from my school years on I always loved art, taking as many art classes as possible and drawing in pretty much all of my free time after school. I never considered how I would turn it into a career until I discovered graphic design my junior year of college, and for that, I am SO thankful!

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

Thinking back, I began “freelancing” while I was still in college, though I don’t think I referred to it at that time. I would take on small design projects for friends and family members, or friends of friends who knew that I was studying design. I started a part time design job my senior year and continued taking on small projects along the way and into my first full time design job after graduation. As time went on I continued growing my audience by posting my work on social media, and by word of mouth from people who I had done design work for, until my freelance work was consuming all of my nights and weekends after my 9-5 job. That was the point where I took the leap and quit my full time job and started freelancing full time. It’s be a little bit over a year that I have been freelancing full time and I love it. I’ve learned so much over the past year and am still continually learning so much about the business side of things, managing my time, and just more efficient processes, but I wouldn’t change it for anything!

The Best is Yet to Come | Whitney Anderson
The Best is Yet to Come © Whitney Anderson
When you first started, how did you find clients?

I guess I touched on it a little bit in the last response, but I’d say about 95% of my freelance work has just come to me organically – which has amazed me! I started out very slowly while I was in school with friends and family, and that snowballed into them referring me to other people who referred more people and so on! I also have been posting work on social media for a few years and I have gotten quite a lot of work through people finding me that way.

What are the biggest milestones that have led to where you currently are in your career?

That’s a tough one! I like to think that every day and every project is a baby step. I’ve been blessed to have worked on so many wonderful projects but I don’t really feel like they would seem like big “breakthroughs” to other people. I like to celebrate my little victories and I count all of my projects as successes if I’ve learned something from it. I’ve worked with some really great companies and had a few blog features and publications use my work, so I count those as my big milestones!

Do you have a motto that you work by?

I know a lot of people really hate this – but I’m a firm believer in “fake it till you make it.” Going into freelancing full time I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t *really* know how to run my own business and have been learning so much along the way. I already feel way more confident than I did a year ago but still have so much to learn! I work my ass off to learn and do things the right way, and if I find myself clueless about something I’ll use my resources and either ask someone who is knowledgeable in that topic or do some research until I can find my answer.

How do you stay productive?

I’m pretty self-motivated, but coffee and fresh air definitely help. I always have music or podcasts on while I work too and that generally keeps me going. If I get stuck on a project I’ll take a break from it and work on something else to clear my head for a while, or take my dog for a walk, or something else non-design related like cleaning or doing laundry or something.

What are you working on right now?

Some really cool branding projects that I’m very excited about. Doing a lot of custom illustrations for one of them and I have been enjoying the change of pace. I’ve also got a really cool wedding project coming down the line! I’m also working on getting my own personal packaging for the goods that I sell (Wit And Co.) redesigned and printed with a local letterpress studio. That’s been a work in progress for a while, as client work always comes first for me, but I’m excited to get the ball rolling on it.

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters | Whitney Anderson
Kickapoo Coffee Roasters © Whitney Anderson
Wit and Co. stickers | Whitney Anderson
Wit and Co. stickers © Whitney Anderson
Whitney Anderson
Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies or people that you want to work with... The worst they can do is say no, and you might get some work out of it.
What is your dream project?

I feel like I have many! I would love to do more illustrations and lettering for editorial work and publications. I just did my first book cover design last year and would love to do more of those. I’ve done a couple of music related merch items and tour posters as well, so more of those things would be awesome. I think currently I’d love to brand and design all packaging/collateral/signage for a restaurant. I’ve worked on a few select pieces in the past and would just love to do more.

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

Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies or people that you want to work with. I haven’t done much outreach in the past because I had a good flow of projects coming in, but for someone who is trying to get their name out there, and doesn’t know how to get clients, just work on building a body of work that you can put out into the world via a portfolio website or social media, and try reaching out to some companies you’d like to work with. The worst they can do is say no, and you might get some work out of it. Or you might make a connection with someone who doesn’t need work immediately, but will in the future.

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

“You’ll get out of it what you put into it.” Essentially, no matter how small or mundane of a task or project you’re working on, if you give it 100%, you’ll be able to take more away from it than if you were to half-ass it. Or say you’re given a really incredible opportunity, but you don’t give it your all, you might lose the opportunity for it to lead to more work in the future. I try to find a learning experience or take-away from every project that I work on so that it will benefit me in the future.

Cafe Wren | Whitney Anderson
Cafe Wren © Whitney Anderson
Jello | Whitney Anderson
Jello © Whitney Anderson
Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

The last 6-8 months before I quit my full time design job I was working insane hours between that and all of the freelance work. Which was a good problem to have, but still extremely overwhelming and exhausting. I’d come home from work, make dinner, and want to relax after a long day, but still have 4-6 hours of work ahead of me in the evenings. My social life dwindled during that time as I was determined to take on as many projects as possible and was awful at saying “no” at the time, no matter how much I already had going on. It was tough and I learned the hard way that I needed to give my body and my brain some time away from designing things to just relax and be with friends, family, and myself.

What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

I’ve really been a sucker for vintage signage and packaging the past couple of years, so I love making trips to the antique stores and just browsing and taking photos of lovely old typography examples and color palettes. I’ve been listing to the Creative Pep Talk podcast with Andy J. Pizza lately and I’ve it. He give a lot of great insight and encouragement and is super real with his creative journey.

What is your favourite piece of clothing?

A rust-coloured velvet jumpsuit from Paloma Wool that I bought in the fall. It’s got a very flattering fit and I always feel super confident when I wear it. Plus its a little bit of a statement piece so it feels very special to have it in my closet. It’s the perfect mix between dressy and casual so I feel like I can wear it to special events or just out on the town with friends.

What is the strangest thing about you?

I grew up on a pumpkin farm in a very rural part of Illinois! I’m definitely a city girl at heart, so when people who know me now find that out its always a bit of a shock.

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?

Adé Hogue! Such a badass Chicago lettering artist.

How can we find out more about your work?

I’ve been slowly updating my work on my website www.witand.co but I post more frequently to instagram at: @whhitneyy and @witandco and on Dribbble at: dribbble.com/whhitneyy