Jenna Van Hout is an independent designer & artist in the Bay Area.
I’m a freelance visual designer who creates high-value design solutions for progressive brands, startups, and organizations. My process-driven approach solves complex branding and user experience problems with a combination of empathy, design thinking, and an artist’s eye.
When I’m not designing, you can find me elbow-deep in mud at the ceramic studio, or climbing up a rock face somewhere.
Looking for Jenna Steely? Learn about the name change here.
“Working with Jenna has been an absolute pleasure! She is a complete professional—super easy to communicate with, delivered everything on time, and provided thoroughly thoughtful design concepts. She nailed every aspect of our company's message and exceeded our highest expectations!”
- Amber Capone, The Mission Within
Why I Freelance
I started freelancing because good design freelancers are hard to find. I know, because I’ve looked! During my time in-house and on design teams, we were constantly seeking additional resources to help with our fluctuating workloads. It was very hit-or-miss—the majority of them being misses. Simply put, there’s a lot of mediocrity out there. I wanted someone who:
Is both strategic AND executional—can both THINK and DO
Can offer a strong point of view and bring something new to the table; isn’t simply agreeable to all requests
Has experience managing client relationships
Communicates clearly and manages their projects and time effectively
Is low ego and professional about feedback
Does what is best for the client, not just what is trending right now on Dribbble
Creates high-quality design deliverables
When we did find these rare specimens, we clung to them for dear life. But I found most freelancers to fall short of my expectations. So when I was ready to move on from my last in-house role, I decided there was an opportunity to become the freelancer I wanted to see in the world.
“Jenna was introduced to me as a world class designer, and very much lived up to it. I am thrilled with her branding redesign for my applied neuroscience laboratory. My community is responding as well—Jenna’s design is opening doors for me to do the work I love.”
- Dr. Ben D. Sawyer, Director, Laboratory for Autonomy-Brain Exchange (LabX)
Why Hire Me?
Okay so there’s a lot of freelancers out there. What makes me so special?
Design is my first love, but client services are my second nature. My very first job out of design school (over a decade ago—time flies) was at a technology consultancy. As a consultant, I was embedded on-site with my project teams at businesses such as Bloomberg HQ in New York City for the majority of my work week. Right from the start, my understanding of how to be a good, professional designer revolved around interacting with and presenting to my clients directly, not via a middle man (or woman).
I bring a strong, outside, expert point of view to your project. You may find that it’s difficult to get things done effectively in-house. This can happen for many reasons: it may be because your team is juggling many, varied initiatives, or it may be that you are so deep in your own experience that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. By bringing in an outside expert, you are able to gain a completely fresh perspective, one that is hyper-focused on solving your business problem for you—without all the noise or chaos of in-house life to worry about.
High value at a low cost. If you were to work with an agency, add a zero to the price I quote you. While there are times you would want to work with a full service team, working with my company of one will allow us to be lean, fast, and adaptable—without the overhead of paying for an entire organization’s time and resources.
If I can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can. My expertise is in visual design, and I can offer limited support in other areas like strategy, writing, and development—however, I’ll be the first to admit when your needs are beyond my abilities. I have a rich network of other freelance professionals to tap, many of whom I have worked with before and have personally vetted—from writing to strategy, film to photography, development to marketing—just ask! (Even if it’s not for a project we work on together—I’m eager to connect companies to great resources, and freelancers to great projects!)
Have a project or collaboration in mind?
Over the past decade, I’ve worked with progressive brands, startups, non-profits, political parties, financial institutions & everything in between.
BFA Communications Design
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Design
Jenna Van Hout | Nov 2018 - present
Lead Communications Designer
Hustle | Oct 2017 - Nov 2018
Blue State Digital | 2015 - 2017
Blue State Digital | 2013 - 2015
Senior Visual Designer
Isobar | 2011 - 2013
Roundarch | 2009 - 2011
Visual Design Intern
Roundarch | 2008
Press & Writing
Scout Books ran a case study on one of my design projects. Designing an event experience for Keepers of the Constants
I like to think about collaboration. Don't Fear the Feedback: Four tips for informal, yet effective design collaboration (Originally posted on AIGA)
Here's one of my finer persuasive pieces. Email to my Boss: On Creativity, Hot Metal, and the Eccentric Use of Personal Development Funds