Like most other freelance graphic designers, I rely on small businesses, entrepreneurs and agencies to make my living. A large proportion of my income is generated here in the UK, but a significant part also comes from clients based in the EU. So I feel I can speak for a several other freelancers who seem certain to be affected by the Brexit result, and the uncertainty surrounding when Article 50 will be triggered.
How this will affect me is still very much up in the air. A resolution looks unlikely any time soon, and there’s even the possibility of an election. But when UK/EU negotiations begin, the process will doubtless be long and extremely complex.
Such uncertainty is likely to have an effect on several aspects of business – especially marketing budgets in the UK. So I’m in no doubt that this will impact the creative industry in some way. Advertising and marketing is often one of the first things to go as budgets are tightened. However, they are also one of the first areas to be revived.
So will June 2016’s decision turn out to be a positive or a negative for creatives in the UK? As I write this in November of the same year, I’m still debating this. The UK creative industry has an enviable reputation worldwide, and to my mind British design will continue to flourish, no matter what. But there are definitely challenges ahead.
Maybe us freelancers will have to shout a bit louder to be noticed. That’s something us Brits are not generally renowned for.
Maybe freelance designers will be in greater demand as organisations use UK-based creatives rather than overseas.
Maybe we will see fewer design and advertising agencies in the years which follow and a larger freelance industry because of it.
Maybe the freelance industry will thrive as businesses change the way they operate and employ highly-skilled individuals tailored to specific projects. This has certainly been happening for a while in the UK. It’s a growing trend in my experience, as business owners become more savvy with their budgets.
So what next?
I work with small and large businesses, individuals and agencies outside the EU. I rarely encounter issues with methods of work or payment. So hopefully this global work will increase as the UK becomes more attractive for businesses outside the EU.
For now, we all watch with bated breath. But while we’ll have to see what happens, we also need to get on with things. The UK is still very much open for business and still has an awful lot to offer companies across the world, not purely and simply in the EU.
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