When Jack Maschka explains that traditional education never really worked for him, it makes sense that he’s not so interested in a traditional nine-to-five job either.
“I always did relatively well in school, there just weren’t many times I felt fully engaged,” says Jack. “The fast-paced environment at Full Sail cultivated an environment that was engaging, creative, and fun to be a part of. I had the opportunity to explore a number of creative fields – ones I didn’t realize were even viable career options.”
Fast-paced is a good descriptor for Jack’s career: he graduated from Full Sail’s Digital Arts & Design degree program in 2014 and has already worked on design projects for several major companies, including National Geographic, MTV, Showtime, and Capital One.
“Immediately after graduation, a couple of close friends (and classmates) and I decided to take a risk and move into a cramped apartment together in New York,” says Jack. “At the time, none of us had anything lined up, but as soon as we got in the car for our trip I got a phone call for my first interview in the city. Within a month, we all had work.”
Since that big move, Jack’s portfolio has helped him continue to land a steady amount of work as a freelance designer. He’s helped design a number of on-air promos for Nickelodeon and he’s currently working with a friend on directing, designing, animating, and illustrating a series of videos for a major financial institution. From sketching to animating, Jack cites design as the foundation that keeps him grounded.
“My issue – and this seems to be the case for a lot of creatives – is that I have a soft spot for all of it. That was my biggest struggle for so long. I’m so inspired by everything that I want to do it all: design, animation, illustration, film, music. Anything that inspires me.”
Not being confined to a cubicle is a plus for Jack – he splits his time between a home office setup and a desk at a co-working space so he can be around other freelancers. If there’s a morning when he’s not feeling creative, he’ll free sketch, make a list of random words and ideas, or go for a walk outside to clear his head.
Freelancing can be tough at times: the work doesn’t always come so regularly (or sometimes there’s a lot to juggle at once), but Jack takes it in stride and offers the following advice to students: “Treat every day like a booking. When I’m not booked, I book myself on a personal project. Personal projects have been the single most important thing I’ve done for myself outside of school. Looking back on it, nearly all of my projects have come to me because of the personal ones. People want to see what drives other people, and I think it says a lot when a person is creating without an external deadline.”
Jack’s other freelancing pro tips: master the art of time management (his favorite book from back at Full Sail on the topic is Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy), give yourself deadlines, and most importantly, stick to those deadlines.
“As a freelancer, there are people who depend on you for deadline delivery,” says Jack, “and your work always needs to exceed their expectations.”