Book Review: How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaugnessy

This book review comes from my other blog:

I have read this before… when I first became a student. It was on the reading list, and I had heard good things, so I picked it up and read bits and pieces here and there. Now I’m in my second year of freelancing and in the middle of trying to update my website, get more exposure and improve my skills, and I thought it would be a good place to start.

This book is full of gems, that I have found extremely helpful for specific elements of my work and in general. In the first chapter, Shaughnessy discusses attributes needed by the modern designer and I found myself nodding along with him in agreement – I spent my childhood copying lettering off everything I coudl without even realising what it was I enjoyed about it, and some of the habits he discusses are definitely habits that I have picked up since becoming a designer.

The book is split up into sections based on different areas of being a graphic designer… finding a job, working for yourself, or someone else, freelance work, setting up a studio, which are all useful regardless of whether you think it’s relevant to you or not. I design freelance, and I am happy doing so, but I still read the studio parts of the book, and still found them helpful.

I found that I am not alone in the big bad world of Graphic Design, and that some of the fears and insecurities I have are shared by designers all over the world. It’s reassuring to know that you’re not the first student to come out of University and not find a job straight away, and that this doesn’t make you a bad designer. There are also loads of tips and advice from many different designers on different ways to approach briefs, finding work, self initiated work and dealing with clients, and I know I am going to keep coming back to this book as a reference tool time and time again.

There is also a brilliant appendix with organisations, websites, books and other designers to check out, a wealth of information and inspiration. There are a few interviews throughout the book with various different practicioners which are invaluable for adding another perspective and more advice on different subjects and issues raised in the book.

If you are, or are planning on becoming a graphic designer, this book is a must-read. This book has helped me focus on important things within my career, and has some invaluable advice.

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