June 18, 2007

How do you find out about design-related stuff?

Posted in advice, community, Design, Lazyweb, Work at 2:39 pm by India


Book designer B., soon moving to New York, wrote today to inquire,

  1. How do you find design jobs?
  2. How do you find out about groups to join for discussing design, books, etc., and for going with to conferences/seminars/talks?
  3. What are your favorite sites for knowing when design-related things are happening?

I get asked this first question every few months, and perhaps you do, too. My answer is always something along the lines of—

I also sometimes recommend that people contact the Lynne Palmer agency, which is a headhunter specifically for book publishing. I’ve never gotten a job through them, except through the power of Magical Thinking—whenever I contact them, I get offered a job by someone else—but I do know that they get cool listings that you will not find online.

For the second and third questions, I have no idea. I skim so many design blogs’ RSS feeds that if something worthwhile is going on, I assume I’ll get wind of it. But maybe I’ve been missing out on all the fun. Are you all going to events and not inviting me?

Please discuss. Tips on entering design communities in other locales also very welcome.

Photo: Advice by NineFingers / dustinotariumatron; some rights reserved.


  1. Well, that’s jobs, as in employment. What about jobs, as in freelance book design and/or layout projects? I check Bookbuilders West and Bookbuilders of Boston on a daily basis. I’ve made a couple of contacts on the Quark list—actually, the old one; but the new one is habituated by the same crowd—that resulted in two jobs. I’ve also made some contacts on dcpubs, the Publishing Freelancers Yahoo Group [Ed. —This one?], the Self-Publishing Yahoo Group.

  2. India Amos said,

    Ah, yes, there’s also that.

    Soliciting and then performing enough freelance work to live off in NYC can be an enormous amount of work. When I switched back to 9-to-5-ing in 2003, it was so I could get some !@#$% rest. My rent is relatively low, but to earn it through freelance editorial work requires a lot of wearisome toil. I could earn it a lot faster through design, but I wasn’t designing much back then, and I didn’t have many contacts through whom I could have hustled up work.

    Also, working alone was, well, lonely, while sharing an office with one other person was distracting. And I learn much more, much faster, when there are colleagues at hand to learn from.

  3. Adrian said,

    Another very helpful post! I’ve been doing book sites but would like to do some cover design, so thanks for putting up bookjobs.com…

    Working at home is good, but it’s easy to get distracted.

  4. India Amos said,

    Well, I hope it turns out to be helpful.

    It’s perhaps worth noting that Bookjobs.com is a project of the Association of American Publishers, and if you’re making a list of places to hit up for freelance work, you could do worse than to start with their member list. The companies have to be at least solvent enough to pay annual dues. Similarly, if you’re looking for more independent publishers, CLMP and the New York Center for Independent Publishing (formerly the Small Press Center) are good places to start.

    As far as events, since nobody else is biting, there is the totally obvious AIGA calendar, which you can subscribe to via RSS. But, really, is it possible that there’s no central calendar of design-related events for NYC? Shouldn’t somebody start one?

  5. I was actually talking about the list for the Yahoo Group Publishing Freelancers: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Freelance

    I wonder whether anyone does what I do and, if so, whether they have much success. Often I’ll answer a full-time job posting, but asking about freelance work. I just did so to a few postings on Bookjobs.com. I don’t, however, when the posting specifically mentions that they’re not seeking freelancers.

  6. India Amos said,

    Hmm. Do you have much success at that tactic? I wouldn’t expect so.

    (Yes, that’s the same group as in the link above; just a different way of accessing it.)

  7. Brian said,

    Thanks, India, for posting this. This is all good stuff. So far, I’ve found about a dozen jobs to apply to through these links. Now I just have to wait a couple months to hear back. ho hum. My back up plan is to simply go through an employment agency. A friend of mine did so and ended up at McGraw-Hill. So, there’s always that. It’s a little nerve-racking to move from into New York from the midwest and hope to find a great job right off the bat. i appreciate all the help that’s been posted here.

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