reviews December 7, 2017

Book review: Design is a job

When I found out about this book, I was really curious. First of all, the author’s last name – Monteiro – caught my attention because it is likely to be Portuguese and second and most important reason, the book title. Short and straight to the point.

Thinking about it, I thought this was going to be a book praising designers and explaining to rest of the world why design/designers matter so much. And that’s part of why I wanted to read it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong (although Mike starts by telling exactly why he loves design and designers alike).

My first impression, upon reading the first few paragraphs, was that the author was cocky as hell and was full of himself. So I stopped reading it for some time and ended up forgetting it. This is until the other day when I decided to give it another try and could not stop until I finished it. And I ended up really liking what I initially thought as a stack of egocentric sh*t.

Reasons why I really liked this book after all:

1. It’s bulshit free

This was initially one of the reasons that made me dislike this book. I wasn’t accustomed to sarcasm and an “into your face” kind of approach outside fictional books.
But then I realized that Mike probably writes exactly like he thinks: bullshit free and that’s a positive thing. More people should be open like this, especially those who have been around time enough to know how things truly work and can teach something to the rest of us.

 2. It’s based on first-hand experiences

Along the book, you will find tons of advice on topics such as how much to charge for the work, presenting to and managing clients, amongst others. But what makes each chapter interesting, is that the author will give you an example from his own experience as a designer.
When reading this book you feel like you can relate somehow and that you are not just following some theoretical hypothesis like on some school book.

 3. It has funny and quirky comments

Ok, I confess. I laugh at weird things and sometimes on inappropriate occasions. Maybe that’s why I found this book so funny or maybe not.
There are some uncommon (to say the least!) expressions to connect ideas along the chapters. My favorite one is this one: “And this will keep the tigers away from your genitals.”

4. Analyzes design from a true business point of view

There is always someone cheaper. Negotiate price, but don’t compete on price. Compete on quality, value, and fit.

Joking aside, this book can be an important tool if you’re a freelancer or if you are struggling with understanding how to do what you love and having a steading income at the same time.

It’s divided in a way that you can just jump ahead to the chapter that you need, but I would recommend reading it from cover to cover to get a full grasp of the business side of design and total knowledge on the subject.

After reading it, I felt like there’s much more involved that I haven’t considered before like contracts clauses, working with other designers and the importance of sticking to your work process.

So even if you already follow a business process, step by step, you could always use a reading or two to find some new perspective or even to rethink something that you are already doing.

5. Doesn’t patronize designers and/or the clients

Don’t get me wrong on this. Mike Monteiro is always defending his designer colleagues, but instead of sugarcoating them, he “talks” straight to their faces.
He breaks some excuses that are common: hiding behind portfolios, refusing to present to clients or blaming them for not understanding the work. Furthermore, he also comments on the animosity between designers:

Until designers stop treating each other with the catty competitiveness of contestants in a trashy reality TV show, and start supporting each others’ efforts, and figuring out how to complement each others’ skill sets, you cannot expect others to take you seriously.

In addition, in his point of view, clients must be acknowledged as an accountable part of the process. They are not to blame if you don’t tell them what is expected of them but they cannot treat you without respect even when they’re paying you.

Don’t work for someone who tries to make you feel they’re lowering themselves to work with you, even as a negotiation tactic. Good work comes from mutual respect.

Mike Monteiro

In conclusion, I learned a lot from reading this book and I have recommended it to some friends too. Because I also consider you as a friend (aren’t you?) I’ll tell you that you can find the book here.
Let me know if I lost my mind with this review or if Mike Monteiro is your kind of crazy.

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