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Thought I'd Lost My Soul - This Book Reaffirmed its Existence
on 30 September 2012
After 19 years as a Graphic Designer and Photographer for a management consultancy, I recently grabbed voluntary redundancy. Phew! For the last five or so years I had begun to wonder whether I really enjoyed design or despised it. It was difficult to distinguish whether the problem lay in design, or designing for THAT particular company. So I began reading design again. Adrian Shaughnessy's 'How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul' reminded me what a wonderfully exciting and interesting profession it is. He seems to give us a very honest and candid account of one designer's experiences grappling with and growing within the design world; and starting, running and ultimately leaving a design studio to go off on his own again.
The book goes way beyond graphic technique and the latest notions of 'cool' - to discuss things like retaining and promoting integrity in the design business, grappling with design BS (client BS as well as how much it might be necessary for you to dish out), some real-life insights into hiring and firing practice of graphic designers (and clients!). Shaughnessy spends some valiant time trying to get beneath the notion of creativity. Regarding design briefs, he offers some good suggestions: take up a role of scepticism and interrogation towards them, be wary of conventional wisdom, rely very much on common sense, and look for what is missing from the brief (which is often the key to unlocking really successful work). And - quite inspiring this - he gives us the green light to rely on our INTUITIONS, without apology. Nice.
If you want a book about GRAPHIC DESIGN AS LIFE, this is it.