Choosing between an in-house team, design agency or freelancers

Recently we’ve seen an increase in companies recruiting in-house graphic designers, as opposed to using freelancer design services.

Designers tend to work in three main environments; in-house, design agencies and freelance. Some employers have suggested that there are many benefits to having an in-house design team, including cost and better control over their creative. But in-house team, design agency or freelancer, what is the best option?

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Design agencies

Design agencies are renowned for coming up with fresh, exciting designs and their designers are ahead on new, innovative ideas and strategies. We recruit for and know of some fantastic design agencies across the region; these design agency environments will often breed creativity! And when using a design agency, you’ll usually be benefiting from a team of talented designers/account managers all putting their heads together for your project. Design agencies are extremely beneficial when used to provide fresh ideas for a company or brand that wants to change direction.

On the other hand, just working with design agencies can often be a be long, laborious and costly process. From the initial brief to the final design it can take several meetings, and the Creative Director that you may have initially met with will not necessarily be the one working on your designs.


The benefit of working with a freelancer is that it is just the one individual you’re dealing with, so you know who will be working on your designs throughout the process. Freelance graphic designers have their advantages for companies who are looking for sporadic design work to be carried out. They are known for their flexibility and working with one individual has its advantages over working with several designers. However, freelancers can be costly so if a company is asking their freelance designer to do work on a more regular basis, then they may have to re-think their strategy.

In-house design team

Many companies will find it time consuming to explain to a design agency or freelancer what they are looking for, whereas an in-house design team will have a good understanding of this and be able to come up with the goods quickly.

An in-house design team benefits a company by really understanding the company and its goals. An in-house graphic designer will have an excellent knowledge of their customer/product and be able to put this at the forefront of their designs. This will add value and result in a quick turnaround. The company will also be able to have more control over the designs – watching them develop throughout the process and be able to make changes swiftly.

This seems appealing, yet sometimes in-house teams can become a little ‘stale’, and therefore some employers are now seeking out graphic designers from agency backgrounds to make the move client side. Agency-side designers are being employed by in-house teams to provide fresh ideas to a company, whereas a designer who has been with the company a long time or who has only ever worked in-house might not be as open to these changes, or not too sure how to do this.

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At Brand Recruitment, we use a mixture of the above options. We will go out to design agencies for specific, often larger projects, or when we want innovative ideas. We also then have somebody in-house who is interested in graphic design and learning more as a side project; we encourage this passion and utilise it for smaller design pieces, or things we need turning around more quickly. We also have a freelance graphic designer that we’ve worked with for a long time who understands what we like and don’t like, and can help with projects, often when we have a vision in mind and need it bringing to life.

The amount of in-house graphic designer jobs has increased significantly over the past year, keeping our creative and design recruitment services busy! More clients seem to be looking to bring their design team in-house, and as such, have ultimate control over their designs and cost. Not only are these employers looking to recruit other in-house designers, but they are very keen to interview designers who have worked for an agency. It certainly seems to be a good time to be hiring for designers, as according to recent stats from CV Library jobs in the design sector saw a 31.6% rise in applications in October 2018.

We’d be keen to hear opinions on this topic; whether you’re a freelancer, in-house graphic designer or work for an agency, or if you’re a business that uses one of these options (or all three like us). If you’re looking for a Graphic Designer or Creative professional to join your team and would like some assistance, please get in touch. And if you’re a creative looking for your next job, check out all our live Creative Jobs.

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