“And there’s only six ways your business can go: you sell for competitive reasons; you sell for financial reasons; you give it to your kids, who probably don’t want it; you give it to your employees, and they probably also don’t want it; you shut it down; or you die at your desk.’ We chose to shut it down.”


So researching into business models is taxing. But this article is really refreshing: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/starting-a-successful-design-studio-is-a-lot-like-making-a-really-shitty-quilt/

I LOVE that this design studio have shared their financial statements, pricing plans etc etc… I think making everything transparent, accessible and available is one of the most radicle, brave and commendable things you can do in business. I’m not business minded, but I think that is because I hate capitalism and what it is doing to the world. Yet, my current brain capacity doesn’t allow me to think outside of the box enough to come up with an alternative way of creating a life as a designer. One that has real impact.

One designer I have always looked up to is Dave Hakkens. I actually got chosen to be a part of Precious Plastic Version 4 in 2019 and moved to Eindhoven to take part. Dave is an award winning Industrial Designer who won many awards for his student projects Phone Bloks and Precious Plastic. Precious Plastic is an open source project that shows people how to make a plastic recycling business anywhere in the world. They actually have a really useful tool that helps you write a business plan: https://preciousplastic.com/solutions/business-tools.html
What draws me to Dave’s projects and the article from HAWRAF is that they are open, honest, experimenting and especially in Dave’s case trying to solve real world problems. I think financially Dave has been quite lucky with the award money he has been granted etc etc but also he is incredibly brave in the way he uses that money. For example when I was invited to Eindhoven I was one of 40 people from around the world invited to live and work for free in exchange for food and accommodation (which is what the prize money was spent on). I think I need to read the book caps lock I feel very conflicted by this module because although I know we all need to make money to live I feel it is missing the point that graphic design is a tool that can be used for good. I feel really strongly about the climate at the moment, with the world predicted to breach the 1.5 degree climate threshold in the next 5 – 10 years it feel a bit stupid to be making a business plan. So perhaps the challenge for me is to reframe this? I really need to write the aims of me as a creative… probably what I should have done in week one. So here goes: – Be open – Work with organisations and people who inspire me and others with their work. – Work on side projects that create connection and community.

Ok… I needed to pause. Went on some runs, worked on other projects and then came back.

…. So I took a few days off and I’m back with a fresh head, fresh perspective. I pulled this book out of my cupboard. PERFECT! This book essentially pulls apart the process model of Patagonia. Here are some of my notes: I really enjoyed this sentement from their financial philosophy “Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”. Yvon states “No company will respect us, no matter how much money we give away or how much publicity we recieve for being one of the “100 best companies” is we are not profitable it’s ok to be eccentric, as long as you’re rich; otherwise you’re just crazy.”

“We believe that quality is no longer luxary. It is sought by the consumer. For example the Strategic Planning Institue has been collecting data for years on the performance of thousands of companies. It’s report has begun to show quite clearly that qulity, not price, has the highest correlation with business success. In fact, the institute has found that, overall, companies with high product – and service – quality reputations have on average return on investment rates twelve times higher than their lower quality and lower priced competitors.”

This is interesting because although the Patagonia model focusses on buying a specific product the sentiment could totally be transferred to graphic design. If I had a strong enough ethos, or manifesto, with strong work to match of course, then this could be enough to keep clients using me as a designer. I already have some long term clients I think what I haven’t ever actively done is frame what I do as work and think about the direction in which I am going. I’m stubbornly admitting that this is a good module! haha.

Tips to learn from the marketing philosophy of Patagonia:

  1. Tell people who we are
  2. Let your image arises directly from your values
  3. at the heart their is a commitment to wildness, both in the natural world and in the sports they serve
  4. a willingness to take strong stands on environmental issues

So. This has give me a little pep to actually get on with the task in hand which is too:

  1. Research how to map out a hypothetical resourcing model for a new business which utilises your unique design expertise.

Making my own Action Plan

Who am I? From the research I have looked at so far I think it is very clear that I need to establish a manifesto and / or a business statement. I also need to pin down what it is I am actually going to be offering. So I’m a graphic designer. My work is in service to life on earth. I want to work with more people, projects and companies that are doing the same. I’ve totally stolen the ‘in service to life’ sentiment from Becoming Crew. I took part in a [un]learning adventure with these guys in the winter of 2022 and it has helped fame my ideas about what I can do, in service to life.

Studio Gannet I’ve decided this will be the name of my freelance studio. It relates to my location, my love of nature and the ocean and last but not least… my dog is called Gannet.

My mission statement is [currently] : Studio Gannet aims to work with people and on projects that inspire us. We are working as graphic designers in service to life on Earth. We are in business to learn, develop and creatively solve problems. What we offer: – Education content design and delivery – Branding – Design for print – Signwriting [we’re working on this and keen to get some more practice in] Who is our target audience? Environmental groups, NGOs, NFPs, CICs, Community groups and businesses with an environmental agenda / focus.

Money: How to keep track of it / what to charge / how to estimate for a job / how to invoice. Next I know that I need to calculate the finances of what I would need to charge to actually have a successful business in the first place. I’m going to use the Precious Plastic business plan to do this. In terms of keeping track of finances as a freelancer I already use a bookeeper. It would be cool to sit down with him after this module and talk through my plans of where I would like my freelance career to go.

It was really useful to see the current UK freelancing rates during this weeks webinar. It does pose the question of where do I sit within these brackets which is something I need to work out within my research.

This article on Medium is particularly insightful and useful when it comes to price quotation and project contracts. You can download templates directly from this article to use.

Design for planet As it is a part of my ethos what am I going to do as a designer that will stand me apart as an environmental alais?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *