Reading Response #12

December 7, 2009

Bruce Mau knows a thing or two about running a studio.

How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul
Chapter 5
Running a studio

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

Again, THANK YOU for wading through all the boring details. I appreciate it. I won’t waste time restating the good tips you gave about project managers, receptionists, and hiring people. I will instead talk about developing a design philosophy.

You state that a design firm must establish and work according to an ethical and creative philosophy. I’m interested in this assertion in light of how much we design students worry we’ll be working for soulless firms doing jobs for heartless clients. You give me faith that no one really WANTS to do these things. Sometimes it just happens.

Your studio’s philosophy is to do high-quality work for all clients, regardless of the budget.

Your logic is that low-budget work often offers more freedom. Doing good work with a small budget leads to bigger, better jobs.

You employ creative individuals to whom you then grant freedom to work towards their own creative visions.

You claim that people work harder and produce better work when allowed to experiment and create independently.

I’ll buy that!

Nice philosophy.

I’ll let you know when I develop one. Here’s what I have for starters:

Enjoy going to work everyday.
Make things that you want to show your friends.
Don’t work with assholes.
Don’t promote products that kill people.
Don’t cause more harm than good on this here good planet.

I’ll have to narrow it down at some point, but that’s what I’m thinking so far.

Thanks for making me think.

Sincerely yours,

Nicole Lavelle

The philosophy of Bruce Mau Design: “We create massive change. We invent cultural possibility. We design positive innovation, we ignite audacious action.” You should probably read this book:


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