Some people spend lifetimes in their own creative world, waiting for someone important to recognize their talent and call them up to the big leagues.

is not one of those people, because Houser isn’t waiting around for anyone.

Early in his college career at , Samuel decided that he wanted to make with design as soon as possible — especially with his Adobe XD . After four years, this newly minted grad made it happen, and built an impressive resume in the process. (Congratulations, by the way.)

He was (and is) the lead app and UX designer for Halla, a food delivery startup. He led a complete rebrand and website design for Vuabov, a local drone rental company. He took on freelance logo and identity design projects for various clients, all while balancing a full course load and his job as the general manager of Studio Blue, Sonoma State’s campus TV station. Casual.

Samuel is the kind of person who decides what he wants, and goes after it without asking anyone’s permission. So when he told us that Elon Musk is one of his biggest inspirations, we all sort of shrugged and nodded because nobody was surprised.

Samuel was super open about how he made money with his skills in college, and we can’t wait to pass on the inspo. Check out some of the high points from our conversation below.

Who were your first clients, and how did you find them?

In the first few years of school, my main priority was building up my portfolio so I could market myself. At first I started asking around to family, friends, and classmates. Through my own network, I did a couple design projects for free, and that really helped solidify that my work was worth charging for.

How did you decide how much to charge?

My first paid project was creating a new logo for a local business. I think I charged 100 bucks as a flat project fee. I’m sure I was undercharging, but it did give me the confidence I needed to keep growing.

Beyond that, I took to the internet. I researched what freelance junior designers were getting paid in my area, and from what I saw, $75 an hour seemed to be a pretty standard rate. At the beginning, I was still balancing gaining experience with money, so I decided to split that number in half while I built up my portfolio.

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