I’m a freelance visual designer who creates high-value design solutions for progressive brands, startups, and organizations. I use a combination of empathy, design thinking, and an artist’s eye to solve complex branding, storytelling, and UX problems.
I started freelancing because good design freelancers are hard to find. I know, because I’ve looked! In my 10+ years employed at agencies and in-house, we always needed help with our fluctuating workloads. It was very hit-or-miss—the majority of them being misses. Simply put, there’s a lot of mediocre freelancers out there. I wanted someone who:
Is both strategic AND executional—can both THINK and DO
Offers a strong point of view and bring something new to the table
Has experience managing client relationships
Communicates clearly and manages their projects and time effectively
Creates high-quality design deliverables
Is low ego and professional about feedback
Goes beyond what is trending on Dribbble right now
When I did find these rare specimens, I help tight to those relationships. But I found that most freelancers 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.
psst… Looking for Jenna Steely? Learn about the name change here.
Carnegie Mellon Design / BFA Communication Design
Freelance Designer / Jenna Van Hout LLC / 2018-present / SF + remote
Lead Comms Designer / Hustle / 2017-2018 / SF
Principle Designer / Blue State Digital / 2015-2017 / SF & NYC
Senior Designer / Blue State Digital / 2013-2015 / NYC
Senior Visual Designer / Isobar / 2011-2013 / NYC
Visual Designer / Roundarch / 2009-2011 / NYC
Over the last decade+, I’ve designed brands, websites, mobile apps, print things, and most other things.
Branding & Identity
A brand is so much more than a logo—design is a powerful tool to communicate who you are, what you do, and how that should make your audience feel. Together we will build out your toolkit by exploring things like color, shape, typography, illustration, iconography, photography—and of course, the logo—to create a cohesive system that works across many applications. It’s this system-thinking where many brands fall short. Together, we’ll nail it.
Digital Products: Responsive Web & UI
Websites and apps are more than skin deep. I will help you think through usability, accessibility, and experience challenges as we find the best way to feature your digital experience across a variety of devices and screens.
Social media, email, one-pagers, presentations, direct mail, business cards, swag, events, posters, magazines, even a branded DJ booth!—I’ll help you harness your brand and infuse it into touchpoints across web, print, and the physical world.
Not sure where to start? I offer design consultation and facilitation to help you strategize and plan your approach. Just get in touch.
People are saying
“Jenna is a first-rate designer whose professionalism and attitude are matched by the high quality and creativity of her work. I was very pleased with both the process and the final result of our branding design project, and I look forward to working with her again.”
- Luke Andrews, Co-Founder & VP of Product & Design, Ellipsis
“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)
“Working with Jenna was like working with the best creative collaborator—she had a “yes-and” suggestion for every step of the process, and spared no detail. I had almost a 100% attendance rate at my event, and everyone told me her designs sealed the deal. She created such a premium experience that started with the invitations, and permeated throughout the entire event.”
-Anna Sawyer, the Met Galactica
Over the past decade, I’ve worked with progressive brands, startups, non-profits, political parties, financial institutions & everything in between.
Why I’m different
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!)