Don’t get a job… Make a job: Review

Commuting in London. 3 words that can turn a smile to a frown in a matter of 0.3 seconds. I’ve had my fair share of tube annoyances, however recently I’ve been using a little yellow ray of sunshine to be blissfully ignorant of ignorant people:

Don't Get a Job... Make a Job

Don’t get a job… Make a job by Gem Barton has been my tube read for almost 2 weeks now, and what a difference it has made to my 40 minutes of underground madness!

You might remember that at the end of last year I took control of my life by I quitting my job of 18 months to figure out what I really wanted to do. I began to question the ‘traditional’ Graphic Design route of College -> University -> Junior Designer -> live happily ever after, and to quote myself: ‘I don’t think I fit in the traditional ‘Graphic Designer’ box because I have a lot of other skills; organisation, writing, photography, networking etc. Maybe I’m not supposed to sit at a desk 9-6 all day – maybe I can do a few different things using all of my skills?’

Up until then I hadn’t seen a lot of conversation around this area, and some the people that I spoke to about it thought I was nuts and that I should just pipe down and ‘get a normal job’. When I started reading the first page of Don’t get a job… Make a job, there’s only one way to describe it – listen to this.

Don't Get a Job... Make a Job


Tackling the exact issues I have been battling/ ranting about here on this blog, this book is like a breath of fresh air to me. It’s like somebody has turned a light on in our dark industry. Somebody has started a conversation with the elephant in the room – thank you Gem Barton!

There are lots of books on how to get a job in the creative industry; make a portfolio -> send it to studios -> work as an intern for experience -> get hired. This is ‘just how things work’ in professions including Graphic Design, Advertising, Architecture and Fashion.

A cruel way of looking at it is that it’s a case of survival of the fittest, which means that basically whoever sticks it out the longest is crowned the winner (and employed). But what happens when you get tired of working for a very low wage with no job security? Or maybe you just can’t afford to do it anymore? You give up on your dream. It’s very sad, but true, that a large proportion of creative graduates never work in the industry that they studied so hard to be a part of. But does the story have to end there?

This book says no. Don’t get a job… Make a job says that you should persevere and make your own path. It says that the ‘traditional’ route isn’t the only way anymore. This book is exciting and revolutionary; I really hope a copy finds it’s way into every University library!

Covering a wide range of issues from putting yourself out there to trusting your instincts, the book is dripping with inspiration and stories from creatives that have done things their own way.

Don't Get a Job... Make a Job

I spy Alec, founder of Intern Magazine.

These creatives are inspo-preneurs, pushing the boundaries of life after graduation by starting their own studios, collectives and businesses. As students we’re taught that the best way to learn is via researching what has come before, but for many of the people featured in the book there was no ‘before’ and the only way to go was through trial and error. In Don’t get a job… Make a job they share their mistakes and hard lessons learnt so you don’t have to, and to prove that their is more to life than working 9-5 for someone else. It’s not going to be easy (nothing worth having comes easy) but you’re not alone and you can be your own boss.

Seriously, where was this book 2 years ago when I needed it?

These are the real struggles and stories: how they decided to do something different, how they got their first client, how scared they were. Brilliant insights and totally fascinating!

Don't Get a Job... Make a Job

Did my enthusiasm sell it to you yet? If not, let me know because I probably have enough to say on this subject to write my own book! If you’re due to graduate soon and have £12 then don’t spend it on vodka Red Bull; buy this book – available from the 24th March ’16. I promise you won’t regret it!

I already told you a bit about Creating a Brand Identity, but I’ve still got 2 more great Graphic Design books in my review pile so check back soon for those 😉

Graphic Design Books


I was kindly sent this book for review by Laurence King but all thoughts on the creative industry and enthusiasm for change from tradition is 100% my own.


  • Hannah

    18/03/2016 at 1:40 pm

    this book looks amazing!! this is definitely going to be a gift to myself when pay day comes around

  • Nina

    19/03/2016 at 10:13 am

    I really like the sound of this! I’m happy in my job but I know I don’t want to be doing 9-5 in an office forever. I think I’ll be giving this a read for inspiration!

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 6:42 pm

      I think it’s always good to learn what else is out there, even if you’re happy now… who knows what you might decide for the future! 🙂

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 6:31 pm

      OH EMMA – I know I don’t really know you THAT well, but I’m already sensing that you will almost love this book as much as I do 🙂 Don’t forget to let me know what you think in a week or two!

  • Kate

    22/03/2016 at 7:31 am

    Sounds like my life I’m going to give it a read!!

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 6:26 pm

      I think you might have gathered how much I love this book, but honestly… it is AWESOME. It just spoke to me! Hope you enjoy it too Charlotte 🙂

  • Kiera

    25/03/2016 at 2:13 pm

    This book sounds absolutely incredible. I have so much to say on the graft it takes to land a grad job never mind your dream work circumstances This sounds so refreshing and helpful. I’ve had a little look and was so happy to see that the author is university lecturer! Having someone so clued in on your side while studying and then being launched into post grad world would be so reassuring and truly give you knowledge to not feel so lost on our venture. Will be giving it a read for sure! Thanks for such a great review and loving those gold clips 😉

    • Natasha Nuttall

      29/03/2016 at 7:50 pm

      We already had a bit of a chat/rant about this didn’t we? I still think it should definitely be a Youtube vid… we should get planning and make that happen! 🙂 Yes I was even more excited because Gem is a lecturer – students definitely need that support! Hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it and glad you’re with me on the gold clip love <3 ha x

  • gem barton

    02/04/2016 at 12:55 pm

    Hi Natasha,
    Just wanted to say thank you for your kind review of the book – it’s really great to hear it has been of use to you and I can only hope it will help others too. Thanks again.

    • Natasha Nuttall

      08/04/2016 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Gem, you’re very welcome! I think it’s a brilliant book and a few of my readers have bought it after reading this post, so I hope they enjoy it as much as I did 🙂 Think it would be a great debate topic if you ever decided you wanted to do a talk/panel!

      • Gem Barton

        12/04/2016 at 6:17 pm

        Thanks Natasha.
        We actually have something in the pipeline coming up. I will keep you posted! And thanks again.

  • Eva

    23/04/2016 at 3:14 pm

    And I thought I’ve read everything there is to read about the “design job” topic. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

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