Studio Manager, Account Manager, Project Manager, Traffic Manager are all fairly similar in role description when it comes to a creative agency. Each are an integral part of any client facing business, whether it be a small agency that only requires one or two of these roles, or a large company that requires multiple individuals in each area of creative and resource management.

Can you study to be a Studio Manager? It depends which direction you want to take. If you are more creative and want to be hands-on in the creative process you can study Graphic Design and work your way up the ladder into Studio Management, Art Direction or a Senior Designer role depending on a company’s needs. Design management courses provide skills on how to foster great client relationships, creating and implementing workflow management processes and setting and maintaining budgets. Bite the bullet and get yourself a bit of both on the CV, it will benefit you in your understanding of design and processes, and will give you that edge towards the job success victory dance.

Here’s a general rundown of what a Studio Manager gets up to:

  • Managing a project from briefing to completion – taking client briefs, consolidating clients needs, assigning designers to a project, managing outputs and ensuring deadlines are met. No matter what.
  • Creating and implementing workflow and project management processes to make for a smooth, efficient project lifecycle
  • Reviewing daily resource and workload schedules and booking freelancers when it gets a little crazy busy
  • Creating estimates for studio time, printing and print management
  • Keeping everyone up to date on a projects status – stakeholders, clients and the team
  • Quality control – does the design adhere to the client brief? A must.
  • Proofreading – double, triple checking of documents before they fly out of the inbox
  • Assessment and debrief management – celebrating the wins and booing the losses, but discussing solutions to improve for next time
  • Administration – archiving and backing up the back up (do it, you won’t regret it), file management and ensuring a steady flow of social media content (when you don’t have a SM manager)
  • Keeping things in line – managing the team’s feedback, annual leave requests, birthday cakes, dishes… anything that’s needed around the office!
  • Design and Creative Direction – if you come from a design background and the structure of a company requires it, you may also work on the creative side assisting with design and providing creative direction.

Most importantly, the Studio Manager provides support to the team and a point of call to funnel information between client and studio. Without this integral role, much of the management of a project falls on a designers’ shoulders, allowing less time for the creative design and artworking itself. Being a personable character is also an important trait of a Studio Manager. Does the team want to work with an unsupportive task manager with zero empathy and a chip on their shoulder? No. It’s about teamwork in creative, and a happy studio makes for an enjoyable work environment, increased productivity and an all-round warm fuzzy feeling. Of course, as with any role, there are challenges – learning to say ‘no’ but providing an alternative, understanding and navigating client team politics, and balancing individuals wants and needs on a professional and personal level. There are by no means a single set of rules or best practices that project and studio managers can whip out and refer to. It all comes down to communication, respect and teamwork, constantly re-evaluating processes and learning how to balance constraints and freedoms to achieve the best end result.