I recently finished Adrian Shaughnessy’s book How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul. I can’t recommend it enough to any aspiring designer, especially those of us in or just out of school. Previously the head of the design studio Intro, Adrian opens up and provides a savory array of real-world, down-to-earth advice on the ins and outs of daily life as a designer. I also recently read Debbie Millman’s How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, and while reading interviews with the likes of Paula Scher, Michael Bierut, and Milton Glaser provided something of an energy shot to my creative juices, Adrian’s book is both inspirational and practical.
Adrian paints a realistic picture of what life is like in a design studio, an in-house department, or going solo as a freelancer, giving a little shot of reality to the design student who wanders from a creative stupor in a studio classroom to face the working world. He tackles many of the business issues we design folks would like to forget about, like finding an accountant, finding a lawyer and taking care of legal issues. He describes having an interview at a design firm, and gives advice such as how to package and present your portfolio. He explores in the importance of good relationships within a design firm, how studio heads can find and take care of good designers, and ways to foster a creative environment.
In short, it’s a beautiful book, and immensely helpful. Don’t pass it up.