Ah. That question. And a good question it is. There are pros and cons to using both avenues for your web and graphic design needs, and in the interest of helping you make an informed decision, I will lay it out for you in an unbiased way. You will need to decide if the benefits of using a freelance graphic designer suit your needs specifically, or if the advantages of going with an agency make more sense for you. Having worked both for an agency and as a freelancer, I think I can provide some clarity on the subject.

The Agency

Multiple Solutions

Agencies often offer more than one service, so if you are looking for multiple solutions to market your product, an agency can often assist as one service provider, as opposed to having multiple touch points. Even within the very large scope of “design”, you will battle to find a freelancer who can do everything from website design to 3D renders to illustration (and do it well).

The Freelancer

Direct Communication

With a freelancer, you are able to communicate directly with the person who is actually going to produce the work, not an Account Executive or Manager, who, if not a skilled listener, may misinterpret (or misunderstand) your needs. Dealing directly with the creative who is responsible for designing your artwork decreases the chance of you receiving designs that are not what you wanted in the original brief.

Minimal Downtime

With an agency, you won’t generally need to rely on one person in order to get your job done. If the designer that was originally assigned to your project falls ill, or has a personal emergency, it doesn’t mean that your project will be placed on hold. It will just be handed over to another designer within the team.

Reduced Project Pricing

As a general rule, working with a freelancer will mean reduced costs. Freelancers don’t have huge overheads like large rentals, IT infrastructure and salaries to have to try and cover each month. These savings translate into dramatically reduced pricing for a freelancer’s client.

Multiple Minds

Creative collaboration is one of the things that give creative agencies the reputation for being fun, interesting and open-minded environments in which to work and to work with. Putting a bunch of creatives in a room together and letting their imaginations take over can be a beautiful (and often noisy) thing. You would have the benefit of multiple minds brainstorming solutions to your design needs.


Freelancers (and I will attest to this) do not keep office hours. When you urgently need something from your designer but its 5:05pm and you know you wont be able to contact them until morning meaning you’ll miss your deadline can be hugely frustrating. With a freelancer, your business is their business, so you will more than likely be able to get hold of them after hours and on weekends.

Client Testimonials

Often, a list of prestigious, glowing client testimonials can be offered from an agency because they have multiple designers, and so, they have a much larger client base, generally with bigger businesses (but this isn’t always the case).

Meeting Deadlines

So you’ve just been given a huge opportunity to advertise in a publication, but its 3pm on a Friday and the deadline for artwork submission is Monday morning at 8am…we’ve all been there. A freelancer will endeavour to get that artwork to you, come hell or high water, within deadline. Even if it means giving up a Friday night. Or a Friday night and Saturday morning. Or the whole weekend. Or a whole night’s sleep. You get what I’m saying.

Portfolio of Work

One of the most important steps when looking for someone to help you with a graphic design project is seeing their portfolio of work. When looking at a freelancer’s portfolio, you know you are looking at work actually produced by them, and them alone. With an agency, you are looking at a body of work from multiple designers and therefore are not sure of the quality of work of the specific designer that will be working on your project.


All creatives consider their work a reflection of themselves. With a freelancer it goes one step further. Their work is their bread and butter. Every piece of artwork or every web page is a little piece of them. And everything they produce is the opportunity to market themselves. When you’re not just working for a guaranteed salary every month, the pride that you feel for your work increases tenfold, as does the drive to produce amazing pieces of work for your clients because if they are happy, that means you have done a good job. And that’s the most rewarding feeling in the world.

Of course, all of the above depends greatly on the specific agency or freelancer in question, so your experiences may have been very different. I am talking about the rules, not the exceptions here. If you would like to chat to me to see if I would be the right fit for your graphic or web design project, please contact me on natalie@thecreativelab.co.za or fill in a short form here and I will get back to you.