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Interview with Amber Rousse
Date: January 11, 2013
Name: Amber Rousse
Major, minor, and graduation year: Art, German, Philosophy 2005
Job Title: Owner/Photo Retoucher/Graphic Designer
Organization/Place of work: ARetouch (own business)
My photo retouching business entails I obtain clients from all over the world, usually photographers but sometimes models, advertising agencies, or companies. They ask me to alter their photos to look perfect. Since I own it, I also have to deal with taxes and bureaucracy.
Having my own work schedule and pace, being able to work from home, and the ability to do what I love and get paid for it. Actually the best part is that I can do jobs from anywhere- even when I am on vacation somewhere I can retouch on the spot if someone send me a job. Also I can refuse a job if it is not for me, something I couldn't do if I had a boss telling me what to undertake.
I don't like the accounting. The worst part for me though is I am still shy to talk about money with clients. Many say I charge to little, but I am afraid I won't get clients if I charge too much. I have to learn to build confidence in my value.
My work days are normally spent in my pajamas on the couch with my computer equipment on my lap and a TV show in the background.
I started to dabble in Photoshop when I was in high school, and I got my graduation portraits taken at a local studio and told them about my interest. They asked if I wanted to work for them and I started learning retouching there. I stayed with them for some years and another studio until I moved to Europe and started doing freelance.
I believe many people in my field have a graphic design degree, but I learned everything from playing in the program and colleagues.
High attention to detail, and the patience to sit, sometimes for hours, staring at the same photo on the computer screen. Of course artistic talent and vision is necessary.
I was in Phi Sigma Sigma sorority which helped to build my leadership and networking skills. The organization is focused on building your resume as well so I developed a mindset of doing activities that could be valuable for my future.
I honestly believe I didn't need a degree for this, since I started before I even went to university, but having formal training in other graphic programs would be extremely helpful for me when trying to get jobs that require design. Therefore, a degree in graphic design would be appropriate. Also since I own the business, I guess a business degree is useful for any kind of entrepreneurship.
I hope to be more skilled in other graphics programs, and also published in some major campaigns. The keys to success is to never be too complacent: there are always new things to learn and keep up with in technology.
A photographer in Sweden pushed me to open the business, and I am very grateful to him as he is also one of my most loyal clients. But the best advice someone gave me was another photographer in Sweden who said "Send me the bill again at double your price."
Keep your options open, because you never know what life is like in the real world. You shouldn't expect to get a job doing exactly what your degree states, and you might find that you enjoy some other work better. Although my job is related to my degree, I didn't graduate with a visual art degree expecting it to be useful or to lead me here. But if I have to be honest, the best advice I can give to any student is to study abroad. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for my study abroad experience. My other major was German, and I spent a semester in Germany, where not only I gained invaluable life lessons but met my husband, which is the reason I am in Sweden today. If you want to talk about my more useful degree- German tops the Art one any day simply for the opportunities it gave me. I don't know how much more I can stress the importance of studying abroad…when I heard stories of people going abroad I was really jealous of their life but never expected to have the ability or confidence to the same. One day I decided to just do it and work for it and now I have the best life I couldn't have even imagined. I like to say that my 16-year-old self is jealous of me, because of all the dreams I have accomplished.
I would have paid more attention in the class that taught me how to use Microsoft Excel, because almost any job today asks for that skill… Also I have found that my advertising course was very useful in my line of work.
I think a Master's degree is very useful in certain fields such as business, economics, etc, because have only a Bachelor's is not competitive enough. I believe a doctorate
is more for those who want to remain in the academic setting, or doing research. What I believe is more valuable though, for other lines of work, is practical experience. Try to find an organization that you can volunteer with that is even remotely similar to the job you want and be dedicated to it. Now, to improve my graphics skills, I decided to volunteer to make logos for small organizations without even opening the logo-making software. I've had all of my best experiences by just jumping in and doing it!!
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