Design Cinema - Episode 114 - Starting a Design Studio

15 Jun 202485:57

TLDRIn episode 114 of Design Cinema, Faine shares insights on starting a design studio, discussing the industry's ups and downs, the importance of business knowledge, and the benefits of prepping during market lows. He outlines the skills needed, challenges faced, and the solutions a studio offers, like streamlined pipelines and quality assurance. Faine emphasizes the financial viability of running a studio, providing a realistic view of the costs and potential income, and concludes with practical advice for aspiring studio founders, highlighting the importance of hiring a producer to manage budgets and client relations.


  • πŸ˜€ Episode 114 of Design Cinema focuses on starting a design studio.
  • πŸ’‘ The importance of providing information for those interested in starting their own studio.
  • πŸ’Ό The necessity of understanding both the creative and business aspects of running a studio.
  • πŸ“‰ Discussion on industry trends and market rebounds, highlighting the cyclical nature of the design industry.
  • πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ Identifying the issues faced by art directors and individual designers, such as assembling teams and managing workloads.
  • πŸ—‚οΈ The advantages of running a studio, including providing a single point of contact for clients and maintaining consistent quality control.
  • πŸ”’ Detailed financial breakdown of costs associated with running a studio, showing potential profitability.
  • πŸ‘₯ The significance of having a manager or producer to handle finances, schedules, and client relationships.
  • πŸ“ˆ Emphasizing the potential for high income and the ability to take on multiple projects simultaneously.
  • πŸ—οΈ Tips for starting a studio, such as starting small, hiring trusted designers, and building client trust through excellent service.

Q & A

  • Who is the host of Design Cinema Episode 114?

    -The host of Design Cinema Episode 114 is Faino.

  • What was the feedback from the audience regarding Episode 113?

    -The feedback from the audience was positive, with many viewers enjoying the long format of Episode 113.

  • What is the main topic of Design Cinema Episode 114?

    -The main topic of Design Cinema Episode 114 is 'Starting a Design Studio.'

  • What will not be covered in detail in this episode about starting a design studio?

    -The episode will not cover how to register a company in detail, as that information is easy to find elsewhere.

  • What is the purpose of this episode according to the host?

    -The purpose of the episode is to provide information and insights into the processes and thinking behind starting a design studio, particularly for those who might find it useful down the line.

  • What industry has Faino worked in, and what roles has he held?

    -Faino has worked in the design industry as a designer, art director, creative art director, and has also run his own studio.

  • Why is now considered a good time to prep for the market rebound according to Faino?

    -Faino considers now a good time to prep for the market rebound because the industry always experiences cycles of ups and downs, and being prepared for the next upward trend can be advantageous.

  • What are some key attributes Faino believes are necessary for starting a design studio?

    -Key attributes necessary for starting a design studio include industry experience, excellent design abilities, work ethics, communication skills, art directing experience, leadership skills, a good attitude, and the ability to handle stress.

  • What does Faino suggest about the future of the design industry?

    -Faino suggests that despite current challenges, the design industry will rebound and grow, presenting opportunities for those prepared to take advantage of the market's upward trends.

  • How does Faino structure the work process in his studio to ensure efficiency?

    -Faino structures the work process in his studio by centralizing tasks like reference gathering and rough sketching, using a dedicated 3D team for rough models, and having concept designers focus on refining and rendering, which allows for faster and more efficient project completion.



🎬 Introduction and Thanks

Faino introduces episode 114 of Design Cinema, thanking viewers for their feedback on episode 113. He discusses the positive reception of the long format and mentions his plans to produce more such episodes. He highlights the importance of showing the full creative process and sets the stage for today's topic: starting a design studio.


🏒 Starting a Design Studio

Faino outlines the main topic of the episode: the process of starting a design studio. He emphasizes that this information may not be for everyone but could be valuable for those considering this path. He clarifies that the focus will be on the thinking and processes behind starting a studio, rather than the technicalities of company registration.


πŸ’Ό Why This Topic Matters

Faino explains his motivation for discussing the topic, citing his extensive experience in the industry. He talks about the lack of available information on starting a concept design studio and the importance of understanding the business side of creative work. He stresses the multi-billion dollar potential of the industry despite its current challenges.


πŸ“‰ Preparing for Market Rebound

Faino discusses the cyclical nature of the video game industry, noting significant downturns and rebounds over the decades. He advises viewers to prepare for future market upswings by being ready to capitalize on new opportunities. He shares insights from his career, including the importance of planning for economic fluctuations.


πŸš€ Key Considerations for Starting a Studio

Faino outlines the essential prerequisites for starting a design studio, including several years of industry experience, excellent design abilities, work ethics, communication skills, art directing experience, leadership qualities, a positive attitude, and the capacity to handle stress. He emphasizes that running a studio is significantly more challenging than freelancing.


πŸ” Understanding Concept Design Business

Faino details what a concept design business entails, including providing design products and ensuring high-quality services. He describes the various tasks involved, such as creating reference boards, design sketches, and keyframes. He also highlights the importance of quality control, timely deliveries, and maintaining client relationships.


🎯 Identifying Issues from an Art Director's Perspective

Faino delves into the challenges faced by in-house art directors, such as assembling and managing a team, dealing with freelancers' varying skills, and ensuring consistent quality. He describes the difficulties of maintaining schedules, managing budgets, and handling the non-communicative nature of freelancers due to NDAs.


🧩 Common Freelance Challenges

Faino discusses the limitations freelancers face, such as hitting a rate ceiling, delayed payments, limited workload capacity, and long-term relationship issues. He highlights the difficulty of managing multiple tasks, such as client communications, invoicing, and equipment management, which can lead to task saturation and reduced design focus.


πŸ—οΈ Building an Efficient Studio Pipeline

Faino explains how a design studio can solve the issues faced by art directors and freelancers by creating a streamlined pipeline. He describes his studio's workflow, involving a centralized reference gathering and rough sketching phase, followed by 3D modeling and final design refinements. This approach allows for better efficiency and higher-quality output.


πŸ“Š Financial Viability of Running a Studio

Faino crunches the numbers to show the financial feasibility of running a studio. He compares the costs of in-house teams versus studio-run projects, demonstrating the potential for significant revenue if managed well. He emphasizes the importance of balancing team efficiency and budget management to ensure profitability.


βš–οΈ Pros and Cons of Running a Studio

Faino lists the benefits of running a studio, such as bigger budgets, long-term client relationships, additional tasks, and high-income potential. He also mentions the freedom to focus on design and control over one's future. On the downside, he highlights the higher stress levels, management challenges, and difficulty in taking breaks.


πŸ‘₯ Importance of Hiring a Manager or Producer

Faino stresses the importance of hiring a manager or producer to handle finances, schedules, and client relationships. He explains how this role can shield the studio from headaches and free up the designer to focus on creative work. He shares personal experiences of how producers have protected his studio from bad deals and maintained client trust.


πŸ’‘ Practical Tips for Starting a Studio

Faino offers practical tips for starting a studio, such as beginning with a small team, working with trusted designers, and investing profits back into the business. He underscores the importance of excellent service, maintaining good client relationships, and not relying too much on online presence. He encourages new studio owners to build trust and reputation through quality work and reliability.


πŸ“š Examples of Successful Design Studios

Faino provides examples of successful design studios, including those founded by his former students and industry colleagues. He mentions studios like Peter Zseland, Aqua Moon, West Design, Scribble Pad, One Pixel Brush, and Autom Hawk, illustrating that starting a design studio is a feasible and rewarding path for talented and dedicated designers.


πŸ“£ Additional Resources

Faino recommends additional resources, including the Art Department podcast with Emmanuel and Y, and Trent's YouTube channel for further industry insights. He also mentions a new online portfolio platform, Cara, which he finds reminiscent of the early days of ArtStation. He encourages viewers to explore these resources for more industry knowledge and networking opportunities.


🏁 Conclusion and Farewell

Faino concludes the episode, thanking viewers for watching and engaging with the content. He mentions his upcoming travels and the likely delay of episode 115. He encourages viewers to leave questions and comments on YouTube and signs off with well-wishes for his audience. The episode ends with a farewell and closing music.



πŸ’‘Design Studio

A design studio is a business venture that focuses on creating visual and conceptual designs for various applications such as games, films, or other media. In the context of the video, the speaker shares insights on starting and running a design studio, emphasizing the importance of understanding the business side of the creative industry and the potential for financial success.

πŸ’‘Industry Experience

Industry experience refers to the hands-on knowledge and understanding one gains from working within a particular field. The script highlights the necessity of having three to five years of industry experience before starting a design studio, as it provides a foundation of practical skills and credibility that clients value.

πŸ’‘Art Directing

Art directing involves overseeing the visual aspects of a project and guiding a team of artists to achieve a cohesive look and feel. The video discusses the importance of having excellent art directing experience when running a design studio, as it ensures the quality and consistency of the final product.

πŸ’‘Concept Design

Concept design is the process of creating visual concepts or ideas for characters, environments, or objects in various media. The speaker's personal insight into the concept design industry is shared, emphasizing the unique challenges and opportunities within this niche compared to other design sectors.

πŸ’‘Market Rebound

Market rebound refers to the recovery or upswing phase of an industry after a period of decline. The script discusses the idea of preparing for a market rebound, suggesting that it is an opportune time to start a design studio in anticipation of an industry upturn.

πŸ’‘Quality Control

Quality control is the process of ensuring that products or services meet certain standards of quality. In the video, the speaker explains that as a design studio, one of the responsibilities is to assure quality control over all the work produced for clients, which is a critical aspect of maintaining a good reputation and client satisfaction.

πŸ’‘Client Relationships

Client relationships are the interactions and connections between a service provider and their customers. The script underlines the importance of maintaining strong client relationships for a design studio, which involves good communication, timely follow-ups, and understanding client needs.

πŸ’‘Financial Viability

Financial viability means the ability of a business to generate enough revenue to cover its costs and make a profit. The video includes a discussion on the financial aspects of running a design studio, demonstrating through numbers that with proper management, a design studio can be a viable and lucrative business.


In the context of design and production, a pipeline refers to the workflow or sequence of steps involved in creating a product or service. The speaker describes building an efficient pipeline in a design studio to handle various tasks from concept to final design, which is crucial for managing projects effectively.


Service, in a business context, refers to the intangible value or benefits provided to customers beyond the core product. The video script mentions that a design studio offers a service by solving problems for clients, such as assembling a team, managing projects, and ensuring quality, which clients are willing to pay for.

πŸ’‘Stress Management

Stress management involves the strategies and techniques used to deal with pressure and prevent burnout. The speaker shares personal strategies for managing the high levels of stress that come with running a design studio, such as not working overtime and setting boundaries for work-life balance.


Welcome to episode 114 of Design Cinema with host Faino, focusing on starting a design studio.

Faino expresses gratitude for the positive feedback on episode 113 and discusses the value of long-format episodes.

The episode aims to provide insights into the process and thinking behind starting a design studio, particularly in the concept design industry.

Faino emphasizes the importance of understanding the business side of design and the unique challenges it presents.

The discussion highlights the lack of financial education in most Art and Design schools and the necessity of business acumen in the industry.

Faino shares his personal experience as a designer, art director, and studio owner, providing a broad perspective on the industry.

The episode explores the current state of the industry, including job losses and market fluctuations, and the importance of preparing for market rebounds.

Faino predicts a significant growth in the industry in the next four to five years, encouraging designers to prepare for the upturn.

Key points for considering starting a design studio are outlined, including industry experience, client relationships, and excellent communication skills.

The presenter discusses the importance of having a good attitude and being able to handle stress when running a studio.

Faino explains the concept design business, emphasizing the provision of design services and the importance of quality control.

The episode delves into the issues faced by art directors, such as assembling a specialized team and managing individual freelancers.

Faino presents a chart illustrating the cyclical nature of the industry's growth and downturns, advising on strategic preparation for market recovery.

The discussion addresses the challenges of managing freelancers, including varying work quality, slow progress, and lack of direction.

Faino shares his method for building an efficient design pipeline within a studio, streamlining the process from concept to final design.

The episode concludes with Faino's personal advice on starting a design studio, emphasizing the importance of managing the business aspects alongside creative work.