Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in graphic design but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Pontus Wellgraf, Founder of Wellgraf, located in Stockholm, Sweden.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I'm a Freelance Design Lead offering product design and animation services to startups, agencies, and corporations all around the world. My approach is to start with big innovative visions and then execute those into fully functional and memorable experiences. One key part of my design process is animation, as nothing can communicate an idea, vision, or concept better than feeling it. To turn static artifacts into moving and expressive experiences.

Tell us about yourself

Originally from a small town in Sweden, I've spent most of my professional career in San Francisco, USA, working for digital product agencies. Early on, at age 18, I started exploring design with a curiosity for creativity and interesting ideas. I spent countless hours playing around in Photoshop, manipulating photos into artworks, and redesigning leading products to express my ideas and thinking process. After high school and no further education, my creative work and portfolio got me multiple in-house positions such as graphic designer, print designer, web designer, and motion designer. I always felt that I had much more to offer than what I would do in a fixed position at a company, so after a few years of employment, I continued independently as a consultant to design and build brands, apps, and websites. After a solid stint in Sweden, I wanted to move and work in the US. After months of applications, emailing, and calling companies of my interest, it was clear that my Scandinavian culture wasn't as straightforward and confident as the American may prefer it to be. At this point, as giving up wasn't an option, I booked my second flight ever in my life to fly over to San Francisco to literally show up at all these companies' doorsteps and tell them once again that I really wanted to work for them and they seem to have missed my emails. This new beginning in San Francisco would become my biggest career progression and where everything would take off. I quickly realized my passion for new-thinking design, excellent user experience, and beautiful animations. For the coming five years, I will be exposed to +40 projects in industries ranging from entertainment, technology, automotive, e-commerce, sport, and operating systems. I became a leading role in partnerships such as MasterClass, Netflix, Microsoft, Melio, Huawei & Samsung.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The biggest success factor of my business has been to intensively focus on my craft and showcase it to the world. As creatives, we tend to keep things to ourselves and get stuck from sharing by perfectionism. I've been a victim of this a lot too but realizing that if people can't see you, they won't find you. I leveraged this from the very first years of my career by creating design resources in Photoshop that I shared for people to use. So every time Apple would release a new iPhone or Macbook, I was often the first creative that released a device mockup that would gain thousands of views and downloads. In the download package, I also included links and signatures to my portfolio, and over time this was how my name and business gained traffic and exposure in the community, which I see the effect of still to this day.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a highly creative business owner, I would say that administration & paperwork is what takes the absolute biggest toll on my operations. It's a very stiff, bureaucratic, and uninspiring part of running a business and very opposite to the creative, flowing, and passion-driven process of design that I do. Of course, this is something that needs to be taken care of, but I think it's very important to eliminate things that make us lose passion for what we do, and for me, I decided to hire an accountant partner to handle many of those things for me so that I can focus more on the things that propel my craft and business forward.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Focus on your craft and share as much as you possibly can. It's easy to discredit the work you are doing and to get the feeling that nobody would find it interesting. The truth is that people are more interested and passionate about learning about your process than you think. In fact, I think the interest today is larger than ever before.
  2. Instead of stressing about not getting any projects, create your own projects. This ties into when you are first starting out if you want to either do some contracting work, get a full-time position, or even fully freelance. This is how we all get started with nothing, and the key here is to find ways to showcase your skills, thinking, and process even before you do it on a "real" project. (I don't think there are real or not real projects, by the way, as it's all about what evokes experiences and emotions) So one way of doing this is to create your own projects that you execute and showcase. Redesign your local hotel website, share your take on how you can make the landing page of Tesla more interesting, or do some design concepts for something that you are very passionate about. When you are passionate about something, it's so much easier to find motivation and a path forward.
  3. Try to get exposed to many different kinds of projects. By far, the greatest move to accelerate my career was to join the agency side of life. Getting exposed to +40 projects to date massively boosted my level of craft, design process, and experience. This is also a great way to eventually find what kind of work you like doing and which you want to focus less on.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

After working in San Francisco and Silicon Valley for five years, I've got particularly one insight worth mentioning. It's a common thing to idolize cities, big brands, products & companies for the work that they are doing and the reputation they have. Believing they are untouchable and the absolute greatest. I've worked on projects for the big Google, Netflix, Microsoft & Samsung, but I have also worked for smaller companies and startups like Masterclass, Melio, and The truth for me is that the smaller the projects were, and the closer I worked with the team, the bigger impact I could make and the happier I became. So it's not always the biggest, coolest, and most recognized brands/projects that make you happy, but instead the ones where you make a difference and connect with. In fact, some of my worse projects have been with the biggest brands that everyone wants to work for. Go for the projects that make you happy, not the ones everyone else thinks are cool.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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