Book List: Design Management
Portfolio Review

Check out the following resources on the business of graphic design. These books will help you understand the legalities and other business issues affecting the way you work with clients and identify effective strategies for succeeding as a design entrepreneur. 



Recommended by Richard Plantt RGD, London

Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro

Design is a Job is an insightful book that outlines the practical side of running a professional design business. Derived from his own personal experiences, Mike shares great lessons that every designer should learn. The book starts off by defining the role of a designer, and how to find the right clients for you. Working your way through the book, you will learn why contracts matter and how to get paid for your efforts once a job is finished. It gives the reader an honest picture of what to expect when working at, or possibly running, your very own design studio.


This book covers many topics that creative types tend to shy away from. You will learn why navigating the business of design is just as important as the craft involved in your work. Finding your design process, presenting your work and managing feedback are all hard things. Each of these topics are covered in detail, giving you the keys to a happy and successful design career. I can honestly say that these sections were very beneficial to my personal growth as a designer, which in turn increased my confidence as a business professional. A must-read for every designer, especially if you’re thinking of starting your own studio.


Recommended by Brad Walker RGD, Toronto 

Creating the Perfect Design Brief: How to Manage Design for Strategic Advantage by Peter Phillips

This book stands alone as a guide for creatives in design management positions. While it deals mostly with takeaways for in-house creative teams, the ability to demonstrate value and be a source for strategic solutions is something all design professionals can benefit from. Peter takes a holistic approach to not only lining up the elements and timeframes for success, but more importantly how to position yourself and your team as a valued partner and resource. Solving business solutions is the gauge by which a company's senior management measures success. Problem, action and results make up the reader's roadmap, in addition to some very straightforward insight on how to build relationships along the way. Highly recommended!


Recommended by Chris Wesenhagen RGD, Oakville

Designing Corporate Identity: Graphic Design as a Business Strategy by Pat Matson

Although this book is a little long in the tooth, I found the "soup to nuts" examples, along with insights into the thought processes behind senior management decisions, very valuable. The author provides a perspective of the corporate mind when it comes to visual identity. Although the approach is from that of a design firm, I was also able to benefit it as an internal corporate communications designer. It discusses how corporations either don't know what they want or can't articulate it well. So, rather than working from carefully crafted creative briefs, corporate designers often have to create pitches based on minutes from a meeting or hallway discussions. My main interest was not just how to pitch to a corporation, but how to maintain that relationship. How a corporation is a multi-headed entity that requires variant approaches, simultaneously. Since this book came out there have been many that venture into this territory, but this one stands out, for me, as a trailblazer.


Recommended by RGD

Canadian Copyright Law (Fourth Edition) by Lesley Ellen Harris

Lawyer Lesley Ellen Harris offers a simple overview of the elements of copyright law most relevant to creative professionals. Intended as a reference for those who may be unfamiliar with this area of business management, Lesley Ellen provides definitions and examples to serve as an introduction to an understanding of laws affecting the work of publishers, web professionals, filmmakers, designers, and other creatives. Dealing with a tricky area of the law which often isn't as black and white as it seems, this resource tackles situations that creatives may run into on a daily basis to help explain Canada's Copyright Act. Users and creators alike will find this book relevant for the latest updates on Canadian legislation and international agreements, practical examples of how the law comes into play and suggestions on how to protect your work. 


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