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The Professional Practice of Design

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

On the first day of my design course at college, the lecturer threw a book down on the table in front of us & declared that we MUST purchase a copy each.

The book in question was called ‘The Professional Practice of Design’ by Dorothy Goslett. It was first published in 1960 under the title 'Professional practice for designers', and has been through various reprints.

I bought mine back in the mid-90s, but looking back over the content, I don’t think it has changed much at all over the years since it was first published. A lot of the ideas & methods seem terribly out-of-date now. For instance this was conceived way before the world wide web, and I even got my copy before Amazon & eBay really came on the scene!

A photograph of a red book on a desk next to an Apple keyboard

At the time I coughed and spluttered over spending £15.99 on a book (think of the amount of student pints I could have bought!), and it didn’t even have any interesting graphics to pour over. It was just a book of words – can you imagine such a thing?! Of course, what it did have was sound advice for any young designer starting out, particularly in the field of freelance. Although I would suggest that you’re probably best starting out learning/expanding your craft with an established company first if possible.

The book goes through every stage of design, from writing business letters, being briefed, fee estimation, invoicing, through to setting up your own design office, and all the technical challenges that this entails.

In the book’s introduction, Dorothy says:

“Many designers, though admitting its necessity, think that design administration is boring, a tiresome chore always to be put aside for doing second if something more exciting crops up to be done first. But good design + good administration = good fees well-earned.”

Wise words.  That’s assuming you don’t come across the client from hell obviously…!

The banner image is originally a photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash