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How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,769 ratings  ·  99 reviews
This guidebook addresses the concerns of young designers who want to earn a living by doing expressive and meaningful work, but want to avoid becoming a hired drone working on soulless projects. It offers straight-talking advice on how to establish your design career and practical suggestions for running a successful business.
Paperback, 174 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Laurence King (first published September 1st 2005)
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Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fledgling & flailing designers
Shelves: onhand
This book is an excellent resource for freelancers in general. Shaughnessy is a graphic designer by trade, but his insight into what it takes to become a business professional in the creative world is invaluable. I would recommend this book to writers, artists, house-painters... pretty much anyone who works from home.

Oct 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book solely based on its title, which I found to be, disappointingly, misleading. It would be more accurately titled The Practical Aspects of Being a Designer That No One In Art School Bothered To Teach You. It weighs the advantages of working for a firm versus going freelance, talks about the process of finding clients and proposing work, and provides a number of other pragmatic tips for the working designer. These are all unbelievably valuable, but not what I was expecting fro ...more
Laura Fudge
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 di
Maryam Ansari
The practical information and tips are a bit outdated for 2020 but the gist of the thing is helpful for any young graphic designer.
All in all though, I believe it's overrated among all the books on graphic design.
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: soon-to-be-established graphic designers
contrary to what the title states, this book won't tell you how to be a graphic designer.

it WILL tell you what to do once you've acquired the software skills, graduated from a fine arts school, developed an eye for design, and found a partner with whom to start your own agency. it will tell you "how to be an experienced graphic designer".

so it didn't do that much for me - a lot of common sense advice, a few informative interviews with eminent designers, and a page layout that was easy on the eye
Deniz Cem Önduygu
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
I admit, I was a bit worried about the "without losing your soul" in the title of the book before starting, but Adrian Shaughnessy turned out not to be nearly as romantic as I expected; he even argues that self-initiated projects ("personal projects") usually are not a good way to promote oneself and get new clients – something that doesn't resonate well with the title, and something I don't agree with even though I don't believe in souls.

Interestingly, there are a few paragraphs where Shaughnes
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book that is easy to pick up and put down for inspiration. It wasn't something I read in order and will more than likely dip into here and there again in the future. ...more
Dave Emmett
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design, 2010
This was a pretty good book. It covered a lot of the less glamorous areas of becoming a designer: things like actually getting a job and dealing with difficult clients. It also discusses the benefits/downsides of getting a job in a studio, in-house, as a freelancer, or setting up your own studio. I’m still not entirely sure where I plan on heading once I’m done school, I think working for an existing studio would be pretty cool, but I don’t want to rule anything out just yet.

I should note that w
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: recent undergraduates of graphic design
Recommended to Tony by: Design Observer
Shelves: design
I read this book several years after completing my BFA in Graphic Design, I wish I would have read it my last year of school. This books gives great insight on the structure of the graphic design world from the perspective of successful working designers. It informs readers about freelancers, small offices, larger ad agencies and corporate in-house in the contemporary work place. A quick read and is definitely helpful for young graphic designers.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: design students
Useful book for the business end of graphic design. I liked the exterior design and color scheme of the book, but I thought the layout of the inside pages was a little awkward, calling attention to the white space and away from the text itself.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When my boss at work (the VP of marketing) saw this book on my desk at work he said 'gosh, does being a designer really put your soul at risk?' Well, yes. At least our art soul. So for those who are in the designer boat its a good read. ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me countless times by professors. I wish it could have inspired me more, but it didn't do much more than bore me. I tried to read it again recently in the midst of a very depressing job search, but it still didn't resonate. ...more
Fai Ahmed
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-design

A fantastic & perfect book for freelances and artists who wanna starting out, it''ll teach you things that Art school won't bother to teach you.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for class, and found a fair amount of helpful, real world examples and advice. The humor is dry and worked for me, but not many of my classmates. It's capped off with interviews, which vary wildly in helpfulness but are arranged alphabetically by last name, so it's a bit of a jarring way to wrap up a book. Overall it was a good read, but there may be better on the market for what it does. What it did not do adequately, in my opinion, is answer its own title question, how to pursue so ...more
Abi Nottingham
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a lot of little gems of wisdom in this book. The author’s style is straightforward and there’s basically no fluff to be found, and as it’s split into regular sections it’s easy to digest. The book is obviously one successful designer’s opinion, so it’s to be taken with a pinch of salt, and although it’s an updated version I still think a few things are a bit outdated. Saying that, I think this book is worthwhile for any budding designers or artists, even if you skim the bits you don’t th ...more
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book but it was not exactly what I have expected from it. I think the book is mostly suitable for a freelance designer or a designer thinking to start her/his own business.

There is a lot of practical advice about finding the clients, setting up a studio, working as a freelancer and overcoming your fear of failure and fear of ideas.

The title is great but not really suitable for this book as the question of ‘How to be a graphic designer without loosing your soul’ wasn’t re
Dave Irwin
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
Im actually going through this book with a fine tooth comb to try and pull out every bit of information I can. I love the layout, which I think is beautiful. The stories and lessons in the book are very approachable. They stick in your head and provide excellent advice. I think this is definitely a must read for anyone who is starting a graphic design business but also anyone who wants to work with clients at all.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A handy book that I have recommended to my design students, mainly to help give some of the anxiety in their head some empathy and to look forward. A senior designer friend said, "Let me know when you want to read a heavier design book," which I will probably do at some point. This book, however, is a great short read -- read the chapters that are important to you, read the interviews at the end, and go on. ...more
Rick Henderson
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book every graphic design student should read.

I absolutely loved this book. A long time fan of graphic design, I didn't know a lot about the industry or of well known designers. It focusses mainly on UK designers but is filled with incredible quotes. Every designer thinking about opening a studio should read this. You'll learn about the actual business from people who have been successful.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this an insightful glimpse into the world of graphic design. Definitely took some notes in a few sections and was glad there was an update for modern digital design and web interface. That's the side of design that I find so delightful and interesting and plan to delve deeper into my studies. ...more
Kylee Allred
I was really disappointed in this book, expecting it to have much more design-related content than it did. It’s written specifically for new freelancers building up a business (not for designers in general), but a lot of the information is unnecessary, common sense, and overly specific. It did have a few good ideas but overall I wouldn’t recommend it.
Ben Watson
Good honest book, but a little out of date and two thirds of it are not useful for anybody new to the industry.
A book I would recommend for any designer but not one I would go through all at once. Go back to it throughout your career for the relevant advice, don't two to finish it in one go, you'll miss most of the benefit.
Matthew Potter
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good outline of what it means to be a graphic designer, but I was hoping for something that would dive more into the dilemma of being an artist while at the same time doing commercial work that may or may not be making the world a worse place.
Sml BioBot
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-design
This is a fantastic book on how to be a graphic designer in the competitive market. If you reverse its point, it also helps a lot in understanding how to interview designers when piles of portfolios and resumes arrive at your desk.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
I really should have read this book before starting my freelance designer career.
Tom Parkes
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend if you are stuck in a design rut.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear and to the point. Key points on what should be taught in school.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing resource for freelancers, consultants, and indie entrepreneurs of all sorts.
Alex Khlopenko
To be honest the book proved the worst kind of whining memoir of people who think New Age stuff like meditation and freelancing are The Answer.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So informative! This book really covered everything. As much as it’s difficult to get into specifics about graphic design, I really enjoyed this and learned a lot.
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