Posted 11 Feb 2010 - 2 Gratefully received comments
Being a graphic designer is the best job in the world, but I would say that wouldn’t I. It’s no secret I love what I do but what people might not know is that I dislike what I have to do in order to enjoy my job. If you are a freelance designer you will find that a proportion of your time is taken up with activities that aren’t directly design related; this is a necessary evil that must be accepted in order for you to revel in the freedom you enjoy when the good bit of your work-life kicks in.
Would you like to know how to make the sour side of your freelance life that little bit sweeter?
How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, Written by: Adrian Shaughnessy. Publisher: Laurence King, publication date: 2005.
Blurb: Independently-minded designers need sound advice on striking out on their own, and guidance on the ethical and practical issues facing designers today. This book offers guidance on employment options straight out of college; setting up as a freelancer; establishing a firm; finding and keeping clients; pitching, and generally doing good work. In the near-endless stream of books on design and designers, there has never been a book on how to be a graphic designer until now. Also included are interviews with leading designers working in the US and UK today, including Neville Brody, John Warwicker, Rudy VanderLans and Alexander Gelmen.How to be a graphic designer… is a practical and inspirational user’s guide for designers who want to create meaningful work without losing their shirts… or their souls.
Have you ever read a book and found yourself wishing you had discovered it sooner? That’s how I felt after reading ‘How to be…’ I’ve mentioned before that design books tend to group themselves according to what they set out to do. Some are inspirational eye candy, others are instructive and the best, in my opinion, try to dispense advice.
Advice can be a funny thing because it’s totally dependent on who is issuing it. The best kind of advice is backed up by experience, something Mr. Shaughnessy is not short of.
Upon beginning this book don’t expect to be instructed on the actual craft of designing. It is assumed that anyone reading the text is working in, or related to, the creative industries. If you want to know how to use Photoshop, or are struggling with ideas generation then there are numerous other resources at your disposal, whereas this book is the only one of it’s kind that I have encountered.
‘How to be…’ outlines the processes and pitfalls of working as a designer in relation to all of the other stuff that you have to go through for the privilege of something you love being your job. In other words the business side of things. Here are a few chapter heading to give you the idea: How to find a job, Being freelance, Running a studio, Winning new work, Clients and Self-promotion.
The contents of this book has made me re-think a few things that I do in the day to day running of my business and has prepared me well for the future that I would like to plot for myself. The amazing thing is that the advice laid out is mostly common sense, and that’s why it’s wonderful. The best advice constantly points out the obvious, but in a new way. Of course things are only obvious once you are aware of them!
I particularly enjoyed the interviews conducted with prominent designers, they give a good grounding for the authors text to play against. I immensely enjoyed the way that some of the interviews completely contradicted some of the sentiments the author was promoting. I found it quite clever though, it highlights how diverse our profession is and tips a hat to the idea that not all of the answers are in this book, just as it should be. It does give you a very good knowledge-base to go and find your own answers though.
I’d advise any design student to take a look through this book to give them an insight into what is before them. I would advise any designer without plans of going it alone to look through it, you will probably justify your decision to stay as an employee. I would urge everyone planning to go freelance or start a studio to study this text and arm yourself with the information in holds.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read this book, what did you think of it? What did you learn?
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