How I Got Started As a Graphic Designer

I’ve always been the creative, handy person in my family; the one that was always charged with putting together new furniture, hanging pictures on the wall, painting bedrooms and anything else my mom could think of. Most kids want to be a doctor, or astronaut or teacher, but my ambition was to be an architect when I grew up. I can vividly remember around age 14 sitting in the floor drawing floor plans on colorful copy paper; and I actually still have those floor plans, believe it or not.

At the age of 16 years old my love of music was sparked in the church. Every Sunday I would sit closer and closer to the musicians’ pit and eventually I went from observing to having my own keyboard playing in church, although the volume was very low. The more I played, the better my skills got and my dad bought me my very first keyboard was I was a Junior in high school; it was a Casio and the first song I learned to play was Für Elise by Beethoven. The keyboard was my first instrument and a few years later in college, I picked up the bass guitar and saxophone.

This photo is of me as a Junior in high school with my all-time favorite teacher Mrs. Angie Davis. Guess what class she taught… ENTREPRENEURSHIP!! Yep! Needless to say, this was my favorite class.

As I mentioned, I was very heavy into art, painting, and computer technology. In high school, I took a website design class and it was in the H Building, which was the Technology building for Freshmen. I loved going into H Building because the front of it was made of glass and I was a freak for unique architecture, and I actually majored in Architecture and Music in college.

In my web design class, we learned about fonts, HTML, CSS, and learned how to create a webpage from scratch. I was somewhat interested in it but I never thought I’d do anything with what I learned. Fast forward 5 years, I found myself returning to design.

I got my start in graphic design and web design in church, of all places. In 2009 I married my girlfriend Christian and we started going to a new church and they needed some help with a logo and a website. I had no knowledge of graphic design, and of course, my only web design knowledge was the class I took in high school 4 years prior, but I wanted to help out anyway, so I did.

The “tech guy” at church gave me a trial version to Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver (before the subscription model), and he showed me the ropes. That was the start of a truly great career.

While I was at that church I started my first official company called Artistic Minds Institute. I opened an educational studio and taught piano, voice and music theory lessons to teenagers and adults.

Pretty quickly I found myself needing a logo, brochure, and website, and because I’d just gotten started as a designer, plus I didn’t know anyone to do it for me, I decided to do it myself. Surprisingly, I got really good at graphic design and website design, and other people started asking me to do it for them. And, that’s when I made my first dollar using my creative design skills.

Dominion Artistry logoIn 2010, I officially registered my design company and called it Dominion Artistry. For a while, I worked a traditional day job at Sears, then eventually quit and went full-time in my music school and design business. That was the first of 3 times I was a full-time entrepreneur, but I’ll tell you the rest of that story later.

In 2015 I changed my last name from Westbrook to Sargent to honor my father and carry on the Sargent legacy. I also rebranded my company from Dominion Artistry to Sargent Branding Firm.

After 2 failed attempts to relocate from Mississippi to Texas, the 3rd time proved to be the charm and I moved my wife and son to Little Elm, TX (outside of Dallas) in 2016 in search of bigger opportunities and be closer to Christian’s family. After 2 years in Texas, a new child (Claire), a job layoff and a year of full-time entrepreneurship, I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, but through it all I learned how to run a successful design agency/company and I’ve been going at it full speed ever since.

That’s my story of how I got started in graphic design and website design. There’s a lot that I left out of the story for time sake, but the point was to prove to you that if a kid who came up in poverty and predisposed to juvenile crime can grow up and fulfill his dreams, so can you. I’m proof that with faith, determination, courage, hard work and a great idea, you can achieve your vision of living your version of the American Dream.

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