The design entrepreneur must take the leap away from the safety of the traditional designer role into the precarious territory where the public decides what works and what does not.
Published in 2008, The Design Entrepreneur: Turning Graphic Design Into Goods That Sell is targeted specifically toward graphic designers who desire to take their ideas to market. Written by prolific design writer, Steven Heller, and his co-chair at the School of Visual Arts’ MFA Designer as Author program, Lita Talarico, the book provides a broad overview of design entrepreneurship and examples of designers acting as entrepreneurs. Interviews with entrepreneurs, many of whom were students in SVA’s program, are heavy on the inspiration, light on the practical advice.
The features on Shepherd Fairey, the mind behind the OBEY brand, Jim Coudal, co-creator of Field Notes, and Dave Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s, are worth checking out. The feature on Kid Robot founder Paul Budnitz is also a stand-out. Budnitz’s interest in comics and obsession with vinyl toy culture in Japan led him to build relationships with Chinese factories and develop his own toys. He has opened three retail stores in New York, L.A., and San Francisco.
The Design Entrepreneur‘s authors clarify the difference between traditional graphic designers and design entrepreneurs. They propose that design entrepreneurs must take risks to pursue their own ideas and overcome their own perceived lack of skills. However, design entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Heller cautions, “The design entrepreneur must take the leap away from the safety of the traditional designer role into the precarious territory where the public decides what works and what does not.”
There are certainly boundaries for design entrepreneurs to overcome, but we think they are diminishing. If you’re a designer with a great idea, the world is on your side.