Graphic Design Industry Guide

Crayons, paint and design softwear

Here you will find sources of information such as market research (statistics, trends and developments), key companies, trade magazines, newsletters, and Internet sources.

This guide will be useful to anyone starting a business within the graphic design industry and also for those wanting to further their knowledge within this area.

Start-Up Information

COBRA logo
accessible via electronic databases
The Cobra database contains practical fact-sheets on all aspects of starting, running and managing a small business – including information on writing business plans, marketing, company structures etc.

It also covers the practical aspects of how to start and run particular types of businesses – outlining necessary skills, regulations, licences and legislation etc. and highlights other sources of information and advice available.

Business Opportunity Profiles (BOP) 

Advertising Agency  BOP480 
Artist  BOP455 
Art Supplies Shop   BOP301 
Calligraphy Service  MBP346 
Design Agency  BOP470 
Graphic Designer   BOP035 
Greetings Card Maker  BOP144 
Illustrator  BOP177 
Mural Artist  MBP177 
Web Designer/Developer  BOP347 
Wedding Stationery Maker  BOP476 

Business Information Fact Sheets (BIF)

Choosing and Using a Graphic Designer  BIF013 
Choosing and Using a Website Designer  BIF326 
Copyright to Protect Your Work  BIF218 
Creating a Business Logo  BIF266 
Registering and Protecting Your Product Designs  BIF249 

Small Business Help Books 

This is a collection of books containing practical information for those starting and running a business. Located within the Business & IP Centre.

100 more things every designer needs to know about people by Susan Weinschenk [SBH. PDIP.1]
Applies the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, brain research, and social psychology to the design of technology products, including websites, apps, wearables, and artificial intelligence.

Becoming a video game artist: from portfolio design to landing the job by John Pearl [SBH. BT.8]
A guide to navigating a career in video games by teaching how to make your portfolio shine, what expect once hired, and how to make the best decisions to help flourish your talents and cultivate an exciting career.

The Artist’s Guide to Selling Work by Annabelle Ruston [SBH. BT.130]
Contains information and advice artists to craftspeople looking to sell their work in today's competitive market. Topics include Selecting and approaching galleries, pricing and payments, sample contracts and other legal considerations. As well as mastering social media to increase your visibility

The business of being an artist by Daniel Grant [SBH BT.131]
Contains information on how artists can learn to sell their work with an understanding on the principles of marketing and sales. Topics covered include: Exhibition opportunities for emerging and mid-career artists, and how to set prices for artwork. 

Creating a brand identity: a guide for designers by Catharine Slade-Brooking [SBH. PDIP.14]
This practical handbook contains exercises and examples to highlight the key activities undertaken by designers to create a successful brand identity, including defining the audience, analysing competitors, creating mood boards, naming brands, designing logos, presenting to clients, rebranding and launching the new identity.

The creative business guide to running a graphic design business by Cameron S. Foote [SBH BT.138]
A manual for running and maintaining a successful graphic design business. The four sections cover organization, marketing, personnel and operations, and provide the necessary tools unique to the specific management styles and operation agendas of a design firm. A complete appendix of business forms is also included.

The Creative Entrepreneur: business made beautiful for artists, makers and designers by Isa Maria Seminega [SBH. PDIP.59]
A guide to building a successful creative business. The Creative Entrepreneur takes you step-by-step through the process and offers actionable, straightforward advice.

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers by Alison Branagan (A. & C. Black, 2011) [SBH PDIP.60]
Comprehensive book covering business and start-up skills, including start-up practicalities, self-employment, funding and sponsorship; marketing and promotion; legalities, contracts, finance, e-commerce, innovation and future trends.

The Graphic Designer’s Business Survival Guide by Lawrence Daniels (American Management Association, 2013) [SBH BT.143]
General guide to setting up a graphic design business, covering practical aspects, marketing, management, growth. Includes practical tools and templates. 

Illustration that works: professional techniques for artistic & commercial success by Greg Houston [SBH BT.68]
A straight-to-the-point everything-you-need-to-know guide to the world of professional illustration for aspiring artists and recent art-school graduates. This book explains why illustration is so important to the way we see and communicate today, and how it can be done effectively in an infinite number of styles.

Make your own luck: a DIY attitude to graphic design & illustration by Kate Moross (foreword by Neville Brody) [SBH PDIP.37]
Features chapters on how to thrive in art school, developing your own style, how to self-promote, collaboration with other artists, how to deal with 'copycats' and when to consider working for free. (The author) also touches on the fine points of music packaging and videos, how to find an agent, and looks back on the touchstone moments that helped shape her career.

New markets for artists: how to sell, fund projects, and exhibit using social media, DIY pop-ups, eBay, Kickstarter, and much more by Brainard Carey [SBH BT.81]
A guide that aims to enhance your ability to communicate your art and creative ideas to the world by building awareness of new modes of communication. From social networking to the latest mobile phone app, this guide will show how artists can benefit from the radically shifting ways we share visual information. 

A Pocket Business Guide for Artists and Designers by Alison Branagan  [SBH PDIP.4]
This handy pocket guide answers the most pressing questions artists and designers will have when setting up an art practice or creative business. The book is divided into five sections that will help artists and designers achieve success and make money from their work: business, promotion, legal, money and last thoughts.

Starting your career as an illustrator by Michael Fleishman [SBH BT.120]
Through direct and candid conversations with scores of professionals up and down the career ladder, this book offers rich perspectives of illustrators (and their cohorts) at and away from the drawing board. Topics include how to: create a portfolio, make initial contacts, develop a financial plan, price your own work, market on the web, and more.
Success by design: the essential business reference for designers by David Sherwin (Cincinnati, Ohio: How Design; Newton Abbot, 2012) 
[SBH PDIP.53]                                                                                            
A guide to starting up a design business, covering a variety of elements from invoicing to company culture. Includes worksheets and charts, as well as thoughts from successful designers, project managers, studio directors and client service professionals.

Other books within the British Library’s collection

These books can be ordered via Explore the British Library. 

100 things every designer needs to know about people by Susan Weinschenk [General Reference Collection YK.2011.a.39015]
A guide for designing more intuitive and engaging work for print, websites, applications, and products which matches the way people think, work, and play using research and practical examples.

Creative truth: start & build a profitable design business by Brad Weaver [General Reference Collection ELD.DS.92260]
A guide for starting, building, and enjoying a profitable design business. Topics include learning how to price your work and manage your time, to setting up your business and defining your market. Includes a companion website that offers up-to-date resources, articles, tools, and discussions, allowing readers to continue learning as they grow.

Becoming A Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design by Steven Heller & Teresa Fernandes (Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley ; Chichester, 2010) [General Reference Collection YK.2010.a.33037]
Examines, via interviews with experienced practitioners, the types of careers available to aspiring graphic designers, covering web, television, film, publishing, advertising, corporate, editorial, and other design disciplines.

The Design Entrepreneur: Turning Graphic Design into Goods That Sell by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico (Rockport, 2008) [General Reference Collection YK.2009.b.8053]
Surveying entrepreneurial designers who have developed their designs into to a variety of product ranges, including books, furniture, clothes, magazines and homeware. Includes a number of case studies and interviews from the United States and Europe. 

Writing and Research for Graphic Designers: a Designer’s Manual to Strategic Communication and Presentation by Steven Heller (Rockport, 2012)  [General Reference Collection YK.2013.b.11224] 
Guide to writing and research for designers. Includes sections on strategic writing, targeting an audience, pitching, editing, and research.

Market Research & Statistics 

If you are planning on starting a business you will need to be aware of the latest trends, developments and opportunities within your industry which can all be found from market research.

Market research also covers market size and forecasts, consumer demographics and attitudes, the key players and products and will often include SWOT and PEST analysis showing areas of strength, weakness, opportunities etc. 

IBISWorld logo

  • Advertising Agencies
  • Digital Advertising Agencies
  • Global Graphic Designers
  • Graphic Design Activities
  • Online Greeting Card Retailers
  • Specialised Design Activities

Mintel logo

  • Digital Advertising
  • Greetings Cards and Personal stationary retailing 

Business News & Journals

In order to find the latest news on your topic it is always worth searching Factiva, Business Source Complete and EMIS.

You will find articles from specialist business and academic journals, as well as newspapers and magazines. You may also find market research reports and case studies. As well as profiles of leading industry figures.

You will also find articles covering recent developments, and predicting future trends in your industry.

Trade Magazines and Newsletters

Trade magazines are useful for gaining inside knowledge, recent trends, industry news, company profiles, reviews of new products and services. Some contain annual reviews and company contact lists. Available via electronic resources or ordered via Explore the British 
Library (please ask for help).

The A List: A guide to who's who in media, marketing and advertising (Haymarket Management Publications, 2016) [(B) DIR.659.0922] 
Contains brief biographical profiles of over 300 individuals in the advertising industry. 

Creative Review magazine (Centaur Communications Ltd, monthly) (via GALE Cengage Business & Industry database, from 1999) [available onsite via electronic resources; or for physical copies and earlier issues order via Explore the British Library]                                       
News, commentary, articles and job listings for advertising, design and visual culture.

Design Week magazine (Centaur Communications Ltd, monthly) (via GALE Cengage Business & Industry, from 1999) [available onsite via electronic resources; or for physical copies and earlier issues order via Explore the British Library]                                                                               
News, commentary, articles and job listings for the design industry.

Design Management review (John Wiley & Sons, quarterly) (via EBSCO, from 2004, most recent 1 year not available, or from ProQuest ABI/INFORM Global, 2001 - 2009) [available onsite via electronic resources]  
Leading publication dedicated to design as a strategic business resource.         

Design Management Journal (Wiley, annual) (via EBSCO, from 2008, most recent one year not available) [available onsite via electronic resources]
Annually published journal devoted to articles and academic research exploring design in products, communication, and environments.


Contain lists of companies and industry contacts. Some have annual industry reviews, and specialist articles.

Art & design licensing source book (Max Publishing, 2017) [(B) DIR 741.60941 BUS] 
Directory of art and design brands advertising their work for licensing, as well as contact details for agencies and potential licensors. 

Logobook (Ludovic Houplain, Taschen, 2013) [BIPC (B) DIR 741.6 BUS] 
Logo design reference guide, featuring approximately 7,000 logos organised alphabetically, with information about the designers, year of creation, country, brand, and company.  

Internet Sources

Websites containing free sources of industry statistics, information and contacts.

ACID (Anti Copying in Design) 

Membership organisation raising awareness of intellectual property matters for the creative industries. Offers mediation services and advice on legal matters. 


Provides support for London's visual artists and craftspeople. 


Online educational tool designed to connect students, graduates, universities and industry, exclusively within the field of design. 

Chartered Society of Designers

Professional body for designers with a royal charter to support professional design practice.

Cockpit Arts

Cockpit Arts supports and promote talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career. 

Copyright User

Aimed at making UK copyright law accessible to creators and users, with FAQs, videos, and explanations of UK copyright. Features tailored sections for the creative industries. 

Creative & Cultural Skills

The sector skills Council for advertising, crafts, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing and the visual arts. 

Creative Finance Network

Website detailing the more common varieties of finance for creative industries alongside current funding opportunities and where to find them. 

Creative Review

Advertising, design and visual culture website, with news, articles, resources and job listings.

DACS - Design and Artists Copyright Society

Not-for-profit visual arts rights management organisation. Site has details of campaigns and useful factsheets on aspects of copyright for artists. 


Educational charity representing the global creative, design and advertising communities.

DCMS Creative Industries Economic Estimates 

Official statistics measuring the contribution made by the Creative Industries to the UK Economy. It contains statistics on gross value added, exports, employment and numbers of businesses within the creative industries.

Design Business Association (DBA)

Trade association for UK design businesses. 

Design Council

Public body promoting design. Services to the industry plus publications, research, networking. 

The Design Trust

Resource to help professional designers and craftspeople to create and run businesses.

International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD)

A professional membership body for typographers, graphic designers and educators.

It's Nice That

Website championing creativity across the art and design world. Updated daily with at least nine new articles, it attracts an international readership of around 350,000 unique users a month. 

Please note that every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however some recently acquired items may since have been added to the collection. Please ask for help at the enquiry desk or check the online catalogue Explore the British Library for more details.

Images © John Morgan via Flickr; Danielle MacInnes via Stocksnap and Luis Llerena via