So a new module has begun! I must admit I was a bit gutted to be starting this module so soon int o the course, it feels a bit jarring to all of a sudden be thinking of a business plan after only one module of creativity. I think in general I have a bit of an aversion to making a business plan, but, after a lot of stubbornness I have tried to think about why that might be. The conclusion I have come to is that in my stubbornness to just go with the flow and not set up anything too serious for myself I have limited my work. Currently I am not super happy with the type of freelance work I get, it is slightly uninspiring and not really what I want to be doing. However, if I give myself the time to really think about what it is I want to be doing I can use this business plan to guide that.

To begin I watched the lecture material. There were a few good takeaways that I would like to remember for my own business plan which I have listed below. The notes are in response to this question: What do you think are the essential logistical and practical requirements to set up a design studio / business? Simon Manchip 

  1. Should not be done lightly
  2. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should 
  3. Until you have clients you do not have a business…
  4. You need 1-3 clients before you start you need cashflow. Cashflow is the greatest killer of business
  5. Creative agency is a great person with a laptop. You can run an agency in a very virtual way
  6. Get an accountant as soon as possible – they can sort all the VAT
  7. Never fail to deliver on your promises
  8. Try and overdeliver on your promises
  9. Your early clients, will come back if you have done a good job.

Sarah Boris 

  1. You need to be well surrounded
  2. Community
  3. Local inspiration
  4. Peers that can help you evolve and be critical when you are doing things wrong

Sam Winston 

  1. Build your extended network… – skill share
  2. Sam started contacting people asking if he could help them “I’m in to what you’re doing… is there a way I can be of service to you”
  3. Be totally honest about your timings and overheads.
  4. Respectful and transparent relationship with money.
  5. Biggest ingredient in making money is trust.

The next question the designers were asked was: Tell us about your first studio space: How did you find your first studio? I’m lucky in the sense that since last winter I have found a studio space to work in. It’s in the attic of a surf shop where I live. I’m currently sharing the space with three puppies and lots of boxes so in terms of creative community it’s not great, however, it is genuinely all I have been able to find within a ten minute drive since I moved back here in 2019. I found Sarah Boris’ response to this question super useful:

  1. Don’t take no for an answer
  2. You can get rejected once but the second time around you can be successful
  3. Reinvent yourself
  4. Follow your gut feeling!!!!!
  5. If you’re not feeling something there is a reason.
  6. Dig deeper and understand why you aren’t comfortable with it
  7. Learning to say no about some projects has been key for Sarah
  8. Don’t compromise too much or at all
  9. We tend to want to please clients a lot
  10. Whenever we compromise the product is less good. 

Sam Winston

  1. Trust yourself!
  2. The main person you need to win over, is yourself!!!! 
  3. The more you hold onto a concrete idea it can get painful
  4. Perseverance
  5. Being sincere.. my hearts involved in it
  6. Trust that it will work itself out. 

Lots to think about… but I still felt a bit uneasy or pushed into something I didn’t really want to be doing after watching all of this. Let me think… what is it that I want from my practice and what even is my practice?: – I want my practice to help me imagine a new future. One that has overcome the climate crisis. 

  1. -I want my practice to help me imagine a new future. One that has overcome the climate crisis.
  2.  What if my practice could actually help make that happen? 
  3. “You simply need to be honest with yourself. Make sure the dreams you are dreaming are really yours, not a construct of society, your past, your family”
  4. How do I want to be described? 
  5. So I can imagine making books, education material, whether that be for galleries, schools or other. I don’t want to work full time, at least not until I can find a space that has community! 
  6. Community is key for me. 
  7. I can imagine being happy designing full time if I had a good crew of people around me. 

John Maeda on design thinking and creative leadership

You have to have a mix of the serious and the jackass to synthesise true culture.

There are different forms of leading, some that are restrictive…. Rules just telling you not to do stuff

But how do creative people learn how to lead?

Aren’t we supposed to be flakey?

People at the bottom are wishing they could be at the top. What would happen if you turned the pyramid upside own?

The management is the trunk.

The people at the top get to see forever.

The management serves the employees. Gives them what they need to achieve shared goals.

A main difference between creative leadership is that you love to learn from mistakes. If you are a traditional leader you don’t get to make mistakes… making a mistake gets you fired.

Design Thinking

Often offered as a solution to major problems today.

The reason you are able to make big creative leaps is because the risks are so low.

Your body is not on the line

In big business there is a big need for designers to help rethink how their businesses can be.

I have seen this myself.

Design thinking is a vague term

1858 Florence nightingale she was probably the first data scientist.

She plotted out the death of soldiers in a chart.

The blue is the soldiers that are dying in the hospital.

With this diagram she was able to convince people to work on the hygiene settings in hospitals.

It shows that design can make positive impacts.

We now have access to 10,000 friends. We used to have to go to lunch with just one person to nature the friendships.

The fast method… doesn’t last as long.

You have to use a bit of the slow method.

The world is adapting to the reality that we can’t alone rely on sm to communicate.

Leadership has changed.

I think the main takeaway is we have to stay integral.

Use technology but also be old fashioned. Meet people face to face and work in the real world.

I liked the analogy of the plum tree method of leadership, it reminds me a bit of the mycelium network that TFT work towards.

I think in relation to me, I’m not in a leadership role. I can imagine perhaps being in one in terms of working with a max of one or two employees but nothing more than that. However it would be good to maybe apply some leadership methods in my processes. Almost so I can lead myself to achieve goals.

How to launch and run a design studio

If i’m completely honest after watching this video I got a bit of an insight into what I don’t want to create for myself. I need to delve into designers and practices that I’m inspired by, with a work culture that I can relate too.  So I started to compile a list of designers / agencies / individuals that I am inspired by and why:

  1. A-Side Studio What I like about A-Side: So firstly I have worked with A-side in my old job. I used to go to the studio and feel really jealous of the set up. It was in a really cool community of studios and other businesses in Cornwall. Their work is a really nice mix of things, branding, maps, coffee packaging… but all the businesses share their ethos and it never really feels like they have taken on the work just to get some more cash.
  2. Precious Plastic Again an organisation I have worked with. I spent time in the Netherlands with these guys helping develop V4 of Precious Plastic. I didn’t stay as long as I had intended… turned out communal living wasn’t actually for me BUT I have always been super inspired by the ethos of Precious Plastic. Founded by Dave Hakkens as designer who has always released all of his designs as blueprints for others to recreate. His design, and more so his life, is a sort of experiment into new ways of living and working, more sustainable ways of living and working.
  3. Marwan Kaabour I first came across Marwan’s work when at the V&A’s disobedient Objects exhibition. It was only last year that I researched into the designer behind that exhibition and delved further into Marwan’s work. I’m super inspired with his use of graphic design to shine a light on Queerness in arab culture and how this narrative has led to him collating an archive, one that will be there for others to refer to in the future.
  4. Gordon Young / Why Not Associates I love Gordon’s witty, stubborn and ambitious work. I am inspired by his use of type to invoke connection, humour and play. So If I’m to create a business, a freelance career, based here in Pembrokeshire I need to identify what it is I want to offer, conduct market research to find out my competitors and then create a plan of how I can make this a reality. Easy… Me as a business: What skills can I offer? I’m a graphic designer with over 7 years experience as a freelancer. I have worked on projects for Surfers Against Sewage, National Trust, Trash Free Trails, The Wildlife Trust and many more. I am driven by my passions for the environment, for community and for education. Since graduating I have written, designed and delivered three major environmental education programmes for Surfers Against Sewage and Trash Free Trails:
  5. Plastic Free Schools
  6. Ocean School
  7. Digital Ocean School
  8. Trashmob Academy I really enjoy researching and collating information for it to be relayed. My first independent example of this would be the podcast series I created called: Good News From The Sea. In terms of what I would like to achieve I would love to collate, design and publish books which have accompanying exhibitions. I’d be keen to also work in an education role at a college or university and combine my teaching and design experiences. However I would always like to be producing my own work alongside this.

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