Featured Freelancer: Ryan Cuthriell

Written by Richelle Stewart on February 10, 2020

Say hello to Ryan Cuthriell, a hybrid art director & designer from Durham, NC. He is the owner of Gusto Design Co., specializing in branding, graphic design, advertising, and web services ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

With 18 years of experience, February’s Featured Freelancer Ryan Cuthriell focuses on creating memorable brands, digital experiences, and enduring design solutions for companies that seek purpose and presence. We have worked with Ryan on some big projects like launching the new brand of the iconic southern restaurant Tupelo Honey. We love the passion he puts in his work and invite you to read his full feature below.

How long have you been freelancing?
Officially since October of 2015. As a small business owner, since February 2017.

What do you do? Share your work history and skills.
I try to cast a wide net and not segment or limit services I can provide. If it’s visual and creative, chances are I touch it. It’s nice to work on a variety of projects, particularly logos and brand identity—working with a company at a fundamental level is exciting. I also help companies with marketing support, advertising, print, and web design. 

What is your “exit” story? Why did you decide to freelance?
Long story short: After almost 5 years at a local PR/ad agency, I felt burnt out and decided to try in-house design for a large EdTech company. Almost a year to the day working there, the company had massive layoffs and I was one of the hundreds of people that were let go. I believe this was that “gentle nudge” I needed to start freelancing. I began freelancing with a few local agencies and working with Maari and Uncompany on a few projects. Slowly I began to land my own clients. 

Share how freelancing has been great and/or how it has been hard. (positives vs. painpoints)
Like every job, there are distinct pro’s and con’s. 
PROS: Freelancing offers so much more freedom to do the work you want, while managing your own schedule (verses having a regular job). This flexibility is awesome but it takes a good amount of business and organizational skills to manage it successfully. Other highlights include collaborating with friends, teams, and organizations. I always look forward to the new experiences freelance provides. 
PAINPOINTS: Understanding that companies tend to payout at NET30… or later! Freelance can also be quite isolating at times depending on your network, your involvement with other freelancers, and/ or co-working spaces. 

What are some things you wish you would have known when you started out?
Things take time. Keep hustling and always produce your best work. 

What is some advice you would share with soon-to-be or wish-to-be freelancers?
1) It would be difficult to start a career freelancing without real employment experience. Half the time  freelancing is learning how to engage with clients, and selling your ideas/work while remaining level-headed.
2) Leave egos at the door.
3) I believe the universe has a weird way of opening doors for you, at the right time, if it’s something that you really want.
4) If you’re good at what you do, you can make it on your own. Good people and good companies always want to work with talented, driven folks. 

We love working with Ryan, and value his expertise.
To see more of the work he does check out his website here: