Read It | Talent Is Not Enough: Business Secrets For Designers

It is my belief that good designers have talent that they are born with. Almost every great designer I know came into the world with a love for the arts and a naturally creative personality. Read the “about me” section on any professional designer’s portfolio website and it’ll likely start with “I’ve been drawing since I was wearing diapers,” or something remarkably similar. It’s no wonder that someone who has loved something for as long as they can remember might decide to nurture their abilities and turn their passion into a career. In order to transform this natural strength and developed talent into a successful business, it’s important to realize that being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you can make money from it. Sometimes, you need a little more than talent.

Shel Perkins, author of Talent Is Not Enough, has twenty years of experience in graphic design, management consulting and education. He has served as chairman of the AIGA Center for Practice Management and has written extensively about the business side of design. In other words, he knows his stuff. Lucky for us, he’s more than willing to share his wealth of knowledge.

Talent Is Not Enough is a must-have book for any designer looking to start their own business. It is an in-depth “field guide” into the business of design and is written in a way that is relevant and easily understandable. From discussing your career options and the basics of running a small business to legal mumbo-jumbo and business expansion, Perkins lays it all out on the table. He includes definitions of terms that you may not know, web addresses to other materials you may find helpful and even guides for creating business forms, like your contract.

The wonderful thing about this book, and the reason I highly recommend adding it to your library, is that it serves as a reference whenever you may need it. It’s not necessary to read it cover to cover (although I did!), because it’s laid out in such a way that you can quickly look up whatever you need, read that section and get back to work.  The information is clear, concise and easy to navigate, which helps you to not be overwhelmed by the amount of information it contains. My copy is dog-earred, written in and highlighted and yours will be too, I’m sure of it!

Note: This is in no way a sales pitch for Shel Perkins or his book. I am receiving no financial incentive for this, or any other, review given on DesigningSolo unless otherwise noted.

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About the author

Melissa Ott is a full time freelance graphic artist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who decided to blog about the things she's learned since starting her business over a year ago. She loves writing, drawing, bumble bees, robots and her two cherished orange tabbies, Jack and Jill. She has a passion for minimalistic design and whimsical children's illustration.


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