Book Review: Design Is A Job

I recently finished the latest title in great series of books from A Book Apart — Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro of Mule Design out in CA.

I had been looking forward to this for quite sometime as I am a huge fan of the series of books (for Web Designers), Mike’s twitter persona (@Mike_FTW), the work put out by Mule, and all of the other pieces that have led to Mike writing this book such as his speech titled “Fuck You. Pay Me.” from a Creative Mornings event in San Francisco. You can watch it here.

**Please note that there may be some NSFW material—depending upon your place of work—on his twitter profile.**

Needless to say, it was great. In fact, great may be an understatement. I think this deserves a place in the classroom. Or, more specifically, for college students prior to graduation. This contains the information that you could previously only learn by doing. And in that doing is all of the failures (and successes) that lead to learning these things. But with this book, it may save some people from making some bigger mistakes and and help them get sharper, faster. I think it is imperative that courses utilize this book in some fashion to help students start out on an even stronger footing.

*I even wrote a bit about a possible workshop/class that I’ve been interested in doing for some time, and this book would be an amazing place to start!  You can read the post here.

For me, with more than ten years in this profession, this book has at the very least validated much of the thoughts and feelings I’ve formed over that time, and at the most has also taught me quite a few things.

I was expecting more specifics, as I tend to do. Data that I could take…copy, and place in my own branded stationery. You know, something easy that wouldn’t take me away from what I do…designing things. I did not get that. But, what I did get was much much more. I got schooled in the business of graphic design in 140 pages. I learned what I don’t know, what I should know, and how to go about doing things better. I learned that it will be hard work. But doing things wrong and making the same mistakes over and over again would be even harder.

In my opinion, some of the best educators don’t just give the answers. They help you start your journey to finding the right answers making you aware of their existence. Mike has done just that. He informs the reader rather than panders to them. His mistakes will be your mistakes. They aren’t made up in some hypothetical universe that doesn’t apply to real life. There are many ways to finding the right solution and he has just given us a road map that shows many of the different routes to go and the ones that are blocked off or worse!

Additionally, his style of writing comes across as genuine. He isn’t some uppity design professor or snobby art director that is telling you what they want you to do. He has left (his) ego out of the game and that is extremely refreshing. Additionally, his writing style seems effortless and combines enough humor and casual prose that it doesn’t feel over anyone’s head. And, his “tell it like it is” attitude is just the shot in the arm many of us need to get up off our asses and do better.

I’ve already implemented many things that he has written about in the book including elements within client contracts, SOWs, and estimates that I had never thought to do. You’ve helped me get better and hopefully be a better designer. Mike, thank you for writing this.

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