To publish a book of your work is a milestone accomplishment for any designer. And while it’s almost never the nexus of a career, a book certainly has the power to alter its course. We asked six designers—Bobby McAlpine, Lauren Liess, Corey Damen Jenkins, Brian Paquette, Katie Ridder and Ginger Curtis—to share the effect of their books on their businesses.
“Books are the most impactful business card a design business can have. The very making of them enlightens us as to where we’ve been and how we’ve advanced our [work]. The recipients feel as though they’ve been handed a little brick of the particular gold we are made of. In an increasingly electronic world, published work is practically real estate and certainly tactile evidence. The act of writing forces language to the surface, capturing the photographs in a different dimension—and in fact has taught me to speak. My next book, McAlpine: Romantic Modernism, due out in April from Rizzoli, offered me the opportunity to speak to a new side of our work.” —Bobby McAlpine, McAlpine House, New York
“I wouldn’t say there was a dramatic change [in my business] with the publication of my first book, but I do think it helped get my name out there to potential clients. A single project being published in a magazine can often lead to new clients and work, so publishing a book was great in that the book itself got picked up by numerous press outlets and magazines when it launched, putting my name out there via multiple stories instead of just one. As I’ve been in business longer, I have gradually and steadily increased my rates accordingly. I don’t recall consciously upping my fees upon publication of any of my books, but over time, I gained the confidence and ability to charge more knowing my expertise and reputation were growing—in part due to having a published book in the field. To me, the main benefit of writing a book is sharing a point of view. As designers, the more we can boil down what we’re about the more likely we are to attract the right clients. However, I did have a client—who eventually became a close friend—tell me that she almost didn’t call me when she first looked at my website because she saw that I had written books and didn’t think she could afford me, but her husband convinced her to give it a try. Another client said the same thing. It made me realize the importance of constantly assessing the approachability of your web and social media presence—I thought it was very clear that I was open for business but neither of them felt that way.” —Lauren Liess, Lauren Liess Interiors, Great Falls, Virginia
“Design Remix gave our firm an entirely new level of exposure. We’ve always been very grateful for the support and love that we’ve received from magazines and press locally and internationally over the years, [and] Design Remix feels like a million magazine spreads in one volume. The book brings our brand to life in a warmer, more intuitive and intimate way than our website’s digital imagery or our Instagram account. We’ve heard time and again that Design Remix gave readers a much deeper perspective on me as a designer—who I am, why I am, why we do what we do at our firm—far more than thumbing through pictures on their phone could. In it, I write about my personal journey launching the firm, the struggles I’ve faced as a man of color in this industry, and how I got the company off the ground during the Great Recession. The whole experience of publishing a book takes our breath away, and we’re excited for our second book.” —Corey Damen Jenkins, Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates, New York
“Landing a book deal was mostly just incredibly flattering. I have a very large collection of design and art books, and to think mine would be in the collection of other designers was too cool to believe. Books cost a lot to make these days and it’s a ton of work, but to be able to walk into an interview for a potential job and hand your book to the client is a pretty awesome feeling. The end result of a project is two things: hopefully, a lifelong relationship with great clients and beautiful photography that captures more than just the space you’ve created, but all of the feelings as well. To be able to put that all together in one volume was so rewarding. I have quite the imposter syndrome, and it kind of helped weed those feelings out of my brain, at least the unhealthy ones. We are currently working on volume two, and I’m very excited about it.” —Brian Paquette, Brian Paquette Interiors, Seattle
“Publishing a book memorializes my work in a more permanent way than any social media outlet. I use my books as tools with clients by asking them to dog-ear their favorite rooms or details when coming up with schemes. It is useful to look back at projects that were completed 20 years ago to remind me where I’ve been and how my work has remained constant, but also grown.” —Katie Ridder, Katie Ridder Inc., New York
“[My book] has given me a greater level of exposure as an authority in the world of design. It also opened up the door to a lot of television and podcast interviews across the country, which led to further exposure and brand awareness for my business.” —Ginger Curtis, Urbanology Designs, Dallas
Homepage image: Ginger Curtis uses geometric motifs and a neutral palette in this Texas home | Matti Gresham Photography