Week One: Planning, Strategy and Management

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Lecture One

What do you think are the essential logistical and practical requirements to set up a design studio/business?

Simon Manchipp

"Until you have clients, you do not have a business."

-Simon Manchipp

  • Hold your promises.

  • Over-deliver on promises, keep clients happy!

Sarah Boris

  • Manage spending

  • Have a financial cushion in case things go wrong!

  • Stay connected with others that can inspire you and help you grow.

Julian House and Adrian Talbot


  1. You've got to be a good designer.

  2. Be passionate.

  3. You've got to be a people person.

  4. It would help if you had a head for business.


  • Listen.

  • Put your ideas through as if they're the clients.

  • Create common ground.

"The client's always right."

-Adrian Talbot

Sam Winston

  • Skill swap, trade skills with others.

  • Contact people asking if you can help them rather than them help you.

  • Be sincere and transparent.

  • Trust!

Tom Finn and Kristoffer Soelling

  • Keep costs low.

  • Be flexible; stick with the essentials, to begin with.

  • Find work through collaboration.

Tell us about your first studio space. How did you find your first studio?

Simon Manchipp

  • Worked from home originally.

Sarah Boris

  • Began working in a screenprinting studio.

  • Coworking with other people has positives and negatives.

Julian House and Adrian Talbot

  • Began small and got bigger.

  • Still use analogue techniques.

Sam Winston

  • Shared with a tutor.

  • Got inspired by others.

Tom Finn and Kristoffer Soelling

  • Shared a space, to begin with, which kept costs down.

What is the one piece of advice you can offer about running a successful studio?

Simon Manchipp

  • 90% of what you're doing isn't to do with design.

  • Taylor your own approach.

  • Plussing, working with others to add details.

Sarah Boris

  • Don't take no for an answer.

  • Keep trying and adapting.

"Follow your gut feeling."

-Sarah Boris

  • If your not comfortable, don't go along with it.

  • Don't compromise.

Julian House and Adrian Talbot


  • Meeting people and speaking to people.

  • Handle criticism.

  • Don't let jobs run on forever.


  • The big projects pay for the indie projects.

Sam Winston

  • Trust yourself.

  • Keep sincere.

  • Perseverance.

Tom Finn and Kristoffer Soelling

  • Create the work you want to attract.

Lecture Two

Interview with Gem Barton, author of Don't Get a Job...Make a Job-How to make it as a creative graduate.


  • Be honest with yourself.

  • Be patient.

What tools, links, or advice concerning developing planning and strategic thinking skills for professional practice do you have?

  • Research.

  • Contact the right people.

  • Numerous organisations can help with going self-employed.

How would you advise considering the potential value, place, and audience for your practice?

  • We all have responsibility, families, industry, clients, the environment etc.

  • Determine where you place your value.

What five general steps could you give to build experiences concerning personal career development?

  1. Work hard.

  2. Take time to analyse failures.

  3. Be brave; take chances.

  4. Take care of your emotional intelligence.

  5. Have meaning.

Can you touch on the value of collaboration?

Collaboration, for me, is about three things.

  1. Obtaining skills and knowledge from others that you need.

  2. It is understanding that the whole can be more significant than the sum of its parts.

  3. The experience of connection and communication.

What are your thoughts on distributed and distance collaboration tools?

  • It can close the gap of thousands of miles.

What advice would you give to help develop a strategic approach to communicate what you do to a defined audience?

  • Play to your strengths.

  • Be consistent.

  • Perfect your brand.

  • How do you want to be described?

Aardman hand stake in business to staff

Image: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/nov/10/wallace-gromit-producers-hand-stake-in-business-to-staff

The article describes how the owners of Aardman handed over a 75% stake to their 140 employees to protect the company's independence. As well as protecting the company's independence, it was about protecting and preserving the company (in general) during uncertain times and an even more uncertain future. Sproxton and Lord hoped that employee ownership would encourage the team to come up with more creative ideas. I believe this would make the staff more invested in the company as the gesture itself is of confidence and trust in the employees, which can only reflect excellent results. Furthermore, employees have security, which again builds trust and confidence within the company. With all these factors combined, as an employee, you will want the company to succeed.

How to launch and run a design studio

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4USCXMS7BY

  • Running a business is challenging

  • Putting a business structure in place enables creative work to thrive more

  • Organise time

  • Experience helps when you branch off

  • Try and surround yourself with people you work well with, get on well with, and like

  • Believe in yourself

  • Learn from failure

  • Your confidence and enthusiasm are attractive to clients

  • Create the work you want to do

  • Clients respond to the work they see

How To Run A Creative Business: In-depth breakdown w/ Melinda Livsey

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8BN2YSyYkg

The conversation between Chris and Melinda in this interview was very insightful, informative and enlightening. I found Melinda's situation relatable as I came into the graphic design a bit later than most people. Not through a perhaps more conventional route.

The notes I found helpful from this interview are below:

  • Internships are a valuable starting point

  • 90% of work is through referrals

  • The amount you charge is not only dependant on the size of the project and labour required, but you also have to consider your living expenses

  • If you don't generate new business, you won't have a company for long

  • If you're running a business, be prepared to be working a lot. The hours could be between 60-80 per week

  • If you're outsourcing work, compile a list of notes the night before each day. Use bullet point and audio which you can send around

  • Use Trello, Quicktime, and Keynote for project management

  • Manage your time!

  • Use focus sheets to write down everything you want to do each day; they'll help you focus

  • Be responsive to clients

  • Bring the subject of money upfront and quickly

  • Don't be hesitant to ask about money

  • Don't be afraid to say no to work if the money isn't right

"If you say no to the ones that can't afford you, you're making room for ones that can"

-Melinda Livsey

  • Release the power money has over you

  • Show the work and clients that you want to attract

ustwo Studios

Image: https://www.ustwo.com

Image: https://www.ustwo.com/about-us/

The ustwo Studios seem to be a fun, relaxed place work which seems a conscious decision made to encourage creativity.

They describe their space to be:

"We create a space where our colleagues can flex their skills by taking risks, inspiring and pushing each other, and spending time getting everything just right."

-ustwo Studios

Workshop Challenge

I was initially drawn to graphic design after visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and seeing so many beautifully designed posters for comedians and performers. This, along with my love of comedy, felt like an incredible combination. My dream would be a small team of designers that primarily focused on creating posters, flyers, and other promotional materials for performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal. Ideally, one designer would be located near one of these festivals.

Below are a few examples of posters created for The Invisible Dot (production house) by Studio Julia.

Image: https://julia.studio/project/the-invisible-dot-posters/

Images: https://julia.studio/project/the-invisible-dot-posters/

About us At JOKER, we specialise in creating promotional materials for comedians and sketch acts. By working closely with the performer/performers and their producer, we visualise their voice, persona, and on-stage presence through a wide range of print media, both analogue and digital, to capture their essence tailored to their specific style. Throughout the year, we travel between comedy festivals such as The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and Just For Laughs Festival so we can oversee the distribution of material, support our clients, and have a laugh!

Like many of our clients, we are eco-conscious and use eco-friendly, locally produced, recycled materials whenever possible. As well as this, we work remotely, which reduces our carbon footprint further and allows us to focus more of our time and finances on our projects.


JOKER was originally set up by Charles, who wanted to combine his enthusiasm for both live comedy and design. Previously, Charles has produced two comedy performances and worked at the innovative comedy "powerhouse" The Invisible Dot, Kings Cross, London. Here, he learned about the business side of live comedy and what makes a show successful, from stagehands to producers, designers, and, of course, performers.

I'm unsure of the name but found an old playing card in my wallet that seemed to fit for the time being.

Image: Playing card from my wallet


The lecture allowed insight into how graphic designers found their first job, progressed, and do business. We were also provided with a rich amount of resources, providing in-depth insight into how different studios work and the importance of a strong ethos.

This week allowed me to think about my potential future in graphic design. It made me think about what I want to do with graphic design and where I want to take it. I decided on making posters/promotional materials purely for comedian/sketch acts. As mentioned, my first taste of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was a delightful mix of an overload of comedy and some beautifully designed posters; I felt this combination was something I really wanted to be a part of. With comedy festivals taking place worldwide at different times of the year, I think this could potentially be a realistic proposition in generating year-round revenue.


flex.falmouth.ac.uk. (n.d.). Log in to canvas. [online] Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/897/pages/week-1-lecture-part-i-practitioner-case-studies?module_item_id=50635 [Accessed 30 May 2021].

flex.falmouth.ac.uk. (n.d.). Log in to canvas. [online] Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/897/pages/week-1-lecture-part-ii-interview-with-gem-barton?module_item_id=50636 [Accessed 30 May 2021].

the Guardian. (2018). Wallace & Gromit producers hand stake in business to staff. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/nov/10/wallace-gromit-producers-hand-stake-in-business-to-staff [Accessed 30 May 2021].

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). How to launch and run a design studio. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4USCXMS7BY [Accessed 30 May 2021].

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). How To Run A Creative Business: In-depth breakdown w/ Melinda Livsey - YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8BN2YSyYkg [Accessed 06 June 2021].

Ustwo.com. (2020). About ustwo | The best of family and company: A Fampany. [online] Available at: https://www.ustwo.com/about-us/ [Accessed 06 June 2021].

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