Business for Design

By Erik Summa

Like many graphic designers, (or anyone that’s a visual learner), the most effective way for me to learn is by doing. I feel that it’s important to always try to better myself, whether it’s on a professional or personal level. Above all, continual development and growth is the one thing that drives me to success.

With anything new, cutting edge or exciting, generally comes initial failure. It has been my personal experience that for every successful creative solution I’ve ever designed, there have been multiple iterations or ideas that simply haven’t worked.

Rather than fixate on this apparent shortcoming, I’ve learned to embrace it. Failure is a very important part of my personal design process and methodology. I treat each failure as a stepping-stone to an eventual success, and I find it gratifying to look back at my process after a beautiful design has been completed.

Failure abets creativity. While failure is a vital and necessary step in the design process, one place I’d prefer not to see it is in a boardroom. As any active designer can tell you, getting a job or client you really want can be a frustrating process. Your presentation, eloquence, passion, confidence and quality of work all have to fit and work together. I can’t tell you how many brilliant designers I’ve seen blow a client presentation they should have rightfully been awarded all because one of these attributes was out of sync. But, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Starting this summer, the University of the Arts will begin offering a Business for Design course for credit and non-credit. This course will introduce aspiring graphic designers to the career possibilities within the creative landscape of contemporary graphic design. It will also provide preparation for employment in the field, help you conceptualize a professional portfolio, gain practical knowledge of the business aspect of graphic design, create your resume, and prepare for the challenge of interviewing.  This class is essential for any designer attempting to break into the design profession.

Guest lecturers will include prominent managers, directors and executives from local design firms and will be scheduled to offer you valuable insight into what qualities they look for in a graphic designer. Lecturers will also relate practical experience on what makes a designer successful or unsuccessful in an interview setting.

Sound like something you might be interested in? Sign up today!

Find this course and more in the UArts Continuing Ed Summer brochure.

Erik Summa received his BFA in Graphic Design from West Chester University and graduated with a MA in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London. Summa is currently self-employed as a freelance designer. His personal website can be found at

Summa will be teaching courses offered in the Communication Design Certificate program in the fall.

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