Freelance graphic designer Mark Alvarado has quickly built a reputation as one of the most respected and impressive specialists in his field in the U.S. After completing his studies at UCLA, Alvarado was quick to chase opportunities in the emerging technologies he had studied in college. Showing an amazing foresight, the Golden State native did not limit his studies to graphic design but also explored the skills needed to stay ahead as an entrepreneur and technology specialist. By the time he completed his studies, Mark Alvarado had already been building a list of clients using his services as a designer.
Over the course of his short career, Alvarado has become a specialist in more than simply designing impressive brand materials. Instead, companies are seeking out the designer to ensure their brand is recognizable in all its forms across marketing of all shapes and sizes. Not willing to be pigeonholed as a single form of a designer, Alvarado has worked hard to continue to expand his skills across different media and formats in recent years. As a regular speaker at his alma mater, UCLA, Mark Alvarado gives impressive speeches about the best ways to achieve success as an entrepreneur in the 21st-century.
What team-bonding activities does your company do?
My team is still small but expanding on a regular basis so I do try to get everybody out of the office as often as possible. I have been a committed archer for some years and like to take my team out to take part in various outdoor activities. As a design company, we are also working with clients around the world on a regular basis. In my opinion, it is important to take my team with me as much as possible to meet clients. I think members of our team feel more important when they travel with me to different parts of the U.S.
What are some of the main costs to run your business?
Finding and keeping the best talent is an expensive part of my business. Designers build a reputation within an industry which sees many accounts follow them when they move the company. Another major expense is the new technology we have to invest in on a regular basis to make sure we provide the best possible experience for clients.
Would you ever consider expanding to the West Coast?
That is the long-term aim. We recently opened an office in San Jose which has given us a perfect base for our work. I love the outdoors and would love to spend more time in the Pacific Northwest, so maybe that is an area we could look to expand in. Working remotely for clients and using apps like Dropbox mean we no longer have to be located close to the physical home of our clients.
Can you talk about one challenge that you faced in the last 12 months?
Of course. When I launched this design business, I based our growth on working with smaller companies who were often ignored by larger designers. We were recently offered a major contract with a top U.S. brand which would have meant we had to stop working with some of our most loyal clients. Eventually, I employed some new staff members so we could work with our new clients and those we have worked with since my graduation in 2007.
What does the future hold for your company?
One of the most important aspects of planning successfully for the future has been regular updates to our business plan taking into account new clients and our growth. We are always working on a five-year plan which I believe will see the company grow on the international stage. We recently started working with some of our existing clients in Europe and Asia so we would like to work in these areas on a regular basis.
Are you changing your marketing approach as you expand into new markets?
In the early days of the business, our marketing approach was largely based on word of mouth. Marketing changes all the time, and I have seen more clients arriving from social media platforms such as Linkedin over the last two years. As we expand, we are always looking for new ways of marketing the company in the best way.
Can you give us a brief overview of your education?
I grew up in California and found myself drawn to art classes which I loved. I was accepted into UCLA but had to work to pay for my tuition and expenses. Eventually, I started working in the community and received some scholarships to ease the burden. In 2007, I graduated from UCLA, but I have consistently continued my education with classes in the latest technology and software released for design purposes.
What is your advice for an aspiring Graphic Designer?
Take all the work you can find when you are first starting out in the industry. In the early days of my career, I worked with Mom and Pop stores, tech startups, and anybody who gave me the chance to work and build my portfolio.