Career

How to set up a design collective

Follow these expert tips to start up a successful design collective, as illustrator Robbie Wilkinson drop his considerable knowledge on the subject.

Illustration by Andrew Lyons

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Sometimes, flying solo in the design world doesn't always produce the best results. If you think you might want to start up a design collective of your best design buddies take a look at these helpful tips from illustrator Robbie Wilkinson of Puck Collective.

We wouldn't want you all falling out before you even got started now would we?

Gain strength in numbers

Puck Collective started as an exhibiting group. We all knew each other from university, although we were spread over several year groups.

It's easier to fill a show with five people than it is with one, and we get more of a kick up the backside to do things because everybody is excited to see what everyone else is up to.

Put friendship first

As a design collective, you can open doors that you couldn't get through on your own, but that shouldn't be the most important thing when it comes to choosing your members - it matters more that we're friends.

We get a lot of people emailing us to ask if they can join, but if you're working on a big, important project with someone else, you need to know you can rely on them.

The Puck Collective Logo was designed by an external designer to avoid any upset.

Consider group dynamics

The downside is that it can get like being in a band. Sometimes you need to give people a kick to get their work in on time, and someone's always going to have to be in charge of some element, but we know we can turn around and tell each other to shut up.

And when things go wrong, solving problems and dealing with those mishaps makes you a better creative in the long run.

Separate your sales

We keep things separate when we're selling our prints. We'll each get screenprints and lithographs made and, once we've covered the initial costs of printing those, each member will simply keep the proceeds from however many of their own designs they sell.

That keeps things fair, and it also ensures that we still operate as separate individuals as well as a design collective.

Establish a design collective identity

A design collective needs a shield that bands it together as a single thing. We commissioned another artist to design our logo - we decided to give it to an external source rather than try to design it ourselves so that they could come up with some ideas and pitch to us, and we could choose one as a group and have joint ownership over it.

That way, we haven't picked one member's idea over another's. It's worth parting with the cash to keep the peace.

This feature was originally published in Computer Arts issue 193.

Did you find this useful? Have you set up your own collective? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

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