Managing the creative process WITHin graphic design firms

Jacobs, J. “Managing the Creative Process Within Graphic Design Firms: A Literature Review.” Dialectic, 1.2 (2017): pgs. 155-178. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/dialectic.14932326.0001.208


This literature review examines an array of research that interrogates how the creative process in graphic design firms can be most successfully managed. There is substantial documentation of research on various approaches that have the potential to foster a creative climate in a professional setting, as well as documentation of research about what types of activities and sequences of activities constitute and inform creative processes. However, there appears to be a paucity of research undertaken that has specifically addressed how graphic designers working within professional design studios or larger, project-based enterprises and collaboratives formulate and manage (or are directed to manage) their respective creative processes. To this end, this paper attempts to answer the call from the editors of Dialectic stated in Issue 1 of the journal, which challenges design educators to “fill in the blanks” of design education. (1) Specifically, the “blanks” addressed in this paper revolve around the extent to which design educators prepare students for professional practice by familiarizing them with at least some viable means of not just engaging in, but managing, creative processes.

A key question for contemporary graphic design educators arises from this type of inquiry: how should the management of the creative processes taught to students be aligned or not aligned with the way creative processes are managed by graphic design professionals in their respective working environments? In other words, how should we differentiate the reality of the professional practice of creative processes and the ideal of how they are presented and taught in academic environments? Based on the knowledge cultivated by exploring the depths of this question in a review of literature, the relevant focus of inquiry shifts toward examining how design educators might effectively translate and incorporate management practices into curricular and pedagogic structures that could help better prepare students to effectively and successfully enter and then sustain careers within the contemporary design workplace.

(1) Owens, K. M. & Gibson, M. R. “It’s time to stir the pot …” Dialectic, 1.1 (2016): pgs. 5-8.

Article link on the Dialectic website