a question for Design Gatekeepers

I have thoroughly enjoyed the series of blog posts on design gatekeepers, like this one : How to Get Noticed as a Designer: Seven Tips from Influential Curators, Retailers and Creative Directors - Core77

I have some pressing questions, though: is it possible to make a normal living from doing designs that get featured in those blogs?

I don’t know if this is what you are asking, but in my opinion, getting featured in design blogs doesn’t pay the bills but it does drive some business. Especially since nowadays print media seems to be so quiet and everybody gets their news from the web.

Making your way around the blogosphere is insignificant if all it gets you is a click and an “ooh”.

Blogs are just a method of attracting interest to yourself, your product, but the ability for interested parties to do something with that information is what’s key. Whether that’s buy your product, donate to a crowd-funding campaign, ask for your portfolio, etc.

Design business is built through relationships. Returning business, client moving to a new organization, referrals. A mention in a blog may help as a cold-call credential, but it still a cold-call. I think cold-calls accounted for about 1% of our business.

Unless of course you are a rock star. Then any publicity is good publicity.

Can a design business be built purely on the strength of an initial prototype? Do prototypes excite manufacturers and clients enough to make the product itself? Or do you need a strong network of people and several years’ worth of track record to launch a design business?

It is hard to imagine even a new Marc Newson or Jon Ive coming up with a strong enough one off prototype to build a business.

I’m sure there are examples of a dynamic charismatic person pulling off such a feat, but in general I would say no.

I would also say no, although I would be happy to be proven wrong. I suspect that many of these designers are doing other (related) things to generate cash, such as interior design, cabinetry, freelance jobs, day jobs, etc.

I suppose Yes, everything has to start somewhere, it depends on what you are designing, size of the market etc, it would have to be an awesome initial prototype. I think you could sort of claim that Dyson eventually managed it, but he had to go it alone and take a product to market himself.

Absolutely Yes, I’ve had stuff manufactured based on the strength of a prototype, but I’ve found it generally works for simple easy to make quick stuff, a clip, or unusual kitchen utensil etc.

If you want to approach companies to offer your services and expertise as a consultancy, then a network of talented individuals and several years working for others will certainly help a lot! Companies need reassurance that you will be able to deliver.