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Designing Web Graphics

Designing Web Graphics

As a freelance graphic designer for such clients as the Freedom Forum and The Washington Times magazine Insight on the News, Cara Erinle loved creating colorful, splashy special invitations, designs and visual aids for presentations. So when the Rhode Island School of Design graduate landed her first full-time job as a graphic designer at a Potomac, Maryland, publication company in 1994, she loved the job, right? Wrong! "I felt creatively stifled," says Erinle, 31, who lives in Burtonsville, Maryland, with her husband and two children. "I was essentially copyediting and doing production work, and I was bored and frustrated."

So Erinle turned to volunteer work to release her creative energy, designing programs at her church. That eventually led to other projects and she soon began designing and producing all the church's printed materials, working essentially as part-time art director. With $2,500 in earnings from her church work, Erinle formed a graphic-design business--which would become Salient Solutions Design--in a home office and purchased a computer, fax machine and graphic-design software. Word of her talent spread, and she soon began designing and producing logos, stationery, letterhead and print materials for a dozen clients, including churches, nonprofits, community-outreach groups and small businesses.

With enough clients to pursue her graphic-design business full-time and a strong desire to spend more time with her son, Erinle quit her job at the publication company in 1997. Three years later, Salient Solutions Design has 25 clients and last year had revenues of more than $100,000. Though Erinle still runs the business from her home office, she hires freelance designers when necessary. She is now planning to expand the company to include Web-page design and information-technology services.

COMMUNITY WORK: "I use my creativity as a tool in my community. It's gratifying to hear someone say, `I need your help' and then create a concept, see it through production and watch as the client uses it successfully."

DEVELOPING CLIENTS: "The niche is in giving enterprises and nonprofits strong exposure. Without appropriate mailings, fliers and brochures, clients work in a vacuum."

ACCESSING TECHNOLOGY: "There's a need in the twenty-first century to have print media translate into effective Web sites, and community organizations should have access to this new media."

by Tenisha Mercer

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