Creative, Inc.

04 September 10

Creative, Inc. is a new book co-written by Joy Cho and Meg Mateo Ilasco and published by the fantastic Chronicle Books. I was asked to take part in their blog tour (scroll to the bottom of the post for the other blogs involved) and got a review copy, which I pretty much devoured in one sitting.

Meg is a freelance writer/designer/illustrator/stylist/superwoman and has written two other books. Joy is a graphic designer, has a stationery line and a wildly successful blog. I presume at some point they both sleep, or possibly they are some sort of wizards. Basically, these ladies get things done. I read Meg's first book Craft, Inc. ages ago, so I had high hopes for her latest work.

This book is essentially a guide aimed at all kinds of creatives - from photographers, to graphic designers, stylists and illustrators - who are starting out in freelancing. I'm still only in my first year of being a full-time freelancer, so I feel like I've got a lot to learn (especially since three years at university taught me nothing relevant to running an actual business). I would particularly recommend the book to arts students, as most schools do a woefully poor job at preparing us for real life!

The book is divided into 8 chapters which can roughly be broken down to: an introduction to freelancing, getting started, promoting your work, working with clients, money matters, agents, work/life balance and next steps.

What I really liked is that it's not geared at any one specific discipline. The examples and interviews feature insight and advice from all kinds of talented people. These days it's common to be a multidisciplinary creative ("slashies" in Meg's words - like a photographer/illustrator), but this is actually the first time I've seen this mentioned in a book. It's also nice to have a guide that's in line with the current world of freelancing, i.e. the importance of the internets. Way more than half of my work comes from abroad, so it feels relevant to read about video conferencing, working with clients in different time zones, self promotion online and so on.

There's a lot of excellent practical advice for setting fees, building a portfolio, writing a business plan, promoting your work and dealing with taxes and paperwork. As an illustrator, I particularly enjoyed the interview about commissioning artwork with the Art Director from the NY Times and the whole section on agents, as I've recently started getting approached and been tempted by the prospect (not sure it's for me yet though).

On the whole, I learned some new things and did a lot of nodding the whole way through. I love that the book is written in an informal, almost chatty, voice so it feels more like a good talk with a mentor, rather than sitting in a boring lecture. After reading it I just wanted to sit down and write a huge long list of Things To Do (update portfolio! sort out expenses! get a personal life!), which is actually the best praise I can give it. If a book gets you fired up to stop reading and get working, then it's definitely doing something right.

8/25 SFGirl By Bay
8/26 Mint Design
8/27 Wit + Delight
8/28 Cathy of California
8/29 Book By Its Cover
8/30 Not Martha
8/31 Frolic
9/2 Craft
9/3   Decor8
9/5 Grain Edit
9/6 Make Grow Gather



I have to read it!!


Diana replied over 12 years ago.

This book sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing, Kris! :)

Shokoofeh replied over 12 years ago.

Sounds like an interesting read with some useful stuff in it, I’ll have to get my hands on it sometime xoxo

Cate replied over 12 years ago.

so true about art school + how they don’t prepare you for the real life~ i’ve been reading this book too and it has so much great information on it! thank you for the review~~

satsuki shibuya replied over 12 years ago.

Will have to give this one a read. Thanks for the heads up! :)

anni replied over 12 years ago.

oh it sounds brilliant!

Anke replied over 12 years ago.

I am def going to buy this book asap! looks so good, thanks! x

han replied over 12 years ago.

It is a great book. I really enjoyed reading it.

Anabel replied over 12 years ago.

Do you find the book is overly American in reference at all? I’m thinking about buying it as I am beginning to work in freelance illustration/graphic design, and it sounds great, but I don’t want to find some of the practical aspects irrelevent to someone working in the UK..

Madeleine replied over 12 years ago.

Oh I meant to mention this in the review, but I must have forgotten! I didn’t think it was too American actually, much less so than I expected. Obviously when money is mentioned, it’s in $ but that’s not too much of a problem. The way that different countries deal with taxes and things (registering as self employed, national insurance contributions etc) IS different, so of course do some research on that. The book is a great starting point though.
Hope that helps!
Kris x

kris atomic replied over 12 years ago.

Ooh, just ordered it online! Can’t wait! (^•^)

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Hi, I'm Kris. This is an archive of my blog as it was from 2007 to 2014. It's no longer updated but feel free to browse through the past.


You can find my recent work at, or drop me an email and say hello. 

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