Oh Sh*t... What Now? book review
Neon has never stopped me from buying anything, and Oh Shit… What Now? was no exception. From Craig Oldham’s front cover, to his chapter covers, to his use of language, this book is nothing short of colorful.
I grabbed this read right around the time I was graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was searching for a job while working two, finishing classes, and packing up my apartment of two years to live with my mom across the United States. I desperately was having an ‘Oh Shit.’ type of moment. On my meager earnings, I decided to take a gamble on the $24.99 price tag. I didn’t really open and finish the book until I was back home and not getting many interviews.
I finally finished my degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison without a job lined up and moved back into my childhood bedroom. I was working part-time at Target and hating every minute of it. One of my coworkers asked me one day if I was really supposed to be working at Target, and I openly replied no. I knew I had bigger aspirations than my retail job portrayed at the time. I wasn’t beneath the work, but I knew I was bound for bigger and better things.
After job hunting for 6-months post graduation, I finally got an offer. I was still living at home, and would be commuting for about another 4 months, but I had livable income coming in and was working in a field that I was much more tempered and qualified for.
Job hunting can be tough. But a stable job is not for everyone. That’s one of the best things about Oh Shit… What Now?. Oldham doesn’t pressure you into a particular path that graphic designers can take. He makes it very clear that your aspirations are your own and that each recommendation in his book is just that: a recommendation.
After being in the graphic design field for a while, Oldham knows various ways to infiltrate the job market for graphic designers. Whether you start an agency, go at it solo, or join a 9-to-5 job, each option shows you what the pros and cons are for each gig.
That’s part of why I would say Oldham’s book is a success. While he does focus on the aspects of finding a job in graphic design and how dicey it can be for those starting off, he also makes it clear that there is no real wrong way to approach getting a job or making a living in design. He goes into how you can start your own business, freelance, find a steady job, whether in an agency or corporate setting. He even goes so far as to tell you it’s okay to not go into the design field when all is said and done.
Oldham uses many stories and structured information that makes this book easy to read and digest. He doesn’t really use many flourishes unless you count all the footnotes for side tangents. Tangents that are supportive to his thoughts but maybe not always to the message he is trying to get across. The stream of consciousness does help with his easy-going and carefree tone, which, to the new grad or new pursuer of design, can be a relief.
His language tends to be straightforward, and, despite the cover, pretty clean. I wish I could say the same for my dusty white cover pages but that doesn’t detract from the message of the book in the slightest.
I think the most memorable aspect of this book was when, after studying, interning, and working within the graphic design sphere, Oldham’s friend, Andy, no longer sees his passion in graphic design but in another entirely different field. Going from a graphic designer to a chef to an architect, Oldham doesn’t diminish his friend’s progress in finding out what will make him happy professionally. This book doesn’t scare you into thinking you aren’t good enough or make you doubt your ability as a designer but gives you the tools to figure out how you can utilize your talents as a designer in the workforce, no matter where the end game takes you.
Oldham’s design of this book is questionable with its grid system, bright colors and paper/cardstock format, but it’s definitely worth the read for any creative personnel looking to go forward in their career.
With Oh Shit… What Now?, Oldham doesn’t want to give you a roadmap. He wants to give you a list of possibilities and guidance. When you graduate, sometimes it can be overwhelming when entering the job market and Oldham’s book does its best to keep you calm during this process.
Despite its loud exterior, Oh Shit What do I do Now? is filled with helpful advice for new and seasoned designers. His book helps calm designers throughout their career and gives you possibilities that are within your reach.