The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers – book review

Second Edition

Written by Alison Branagan

Published by: Bloomsbury Academic ISBN: 978-1-4742-5055-9

Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies


There are several good publications on the market that offer guidance in the production of a professional illustration portfolio. This book offers something different; it focuses on the craft of turning artwork into money and therefore a viable career. Fees, invoicing and tax are not, usually, the topics that creative individuals relish, but it is not only talent that is needed to maintain a career, it is a mix of artistic ability and a good knowledge of running a business that will often lead to success.

Branagan unravels the complexities of subjects such as taxation using several examples, which should hopefully help to give confidence to those who are yet to experience the joys of a self-assessment tax return. The text is written in a friendly and supportive manner that recent graduates will be accustomed to. Information is delivered in digestible sections, which allows this book to be used as a reference manual as well as an introduction to the potential ways of developing one’s business.


The list of resources and further reading at the end of each chapter is extensive and the author has considered almost every eventuality within the day-to-day running of businesses of various sizes. Some readers (with a leaning towards Illustration) may prefer to see some more case studies of Illustrators, but it is worth remembering that this book is not exclusively for Illustrators, it aims to help Artists, Designers, Illustrators and those practising in many other different crafts. Given the multifaceted nature of contemporary Illustration practice, where the individual can be originator, maker and distributor, a broad knowledge of different business practices is essential.


Both newly graduated and seasoned freelancer will benefit from reading this book. There are many examples of ‘common sense’ advice, such as how to interact with potential clients, but it is these little details that might be overlooked, and being politely reminded of the importance of one’s conduct, may make the difference between a commission and unemployment. As professional practice is now a key aspect of all good Illustration degree programmes, this book will continue to feature on many reading lists and when used alongside, The Illustrator’s Guide to Law and Business Practice, published by the AOI (mentioned in this book), the reader will be extremely well informed on how to succeed as an Illustrator.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Becoming a Successful Illustrator

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

19th May 2017

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