A little something I made for a design challenge at school. It probably would’ve been quicker to use a pre-made geometric font but it would never have been as fun to make.
Quote from Corita Kent
By Michele Brautnick on April 15, 2011
For the past few weeks I’ve been tidying up my office at the end of every day just in case I don’t come back for another 10 weeks. Some might call it nesting. I call it being considerate of my colleagues who might need to sift through my things while I’m away on maternity leave.
During one of these nightly purges I ran across a “keepsake”– a 15-year old copy of a destroyed, then restored, Post-it note from one of my college professors. Destroyed out of anger and likely embarrassment, then restored after I realized, “Shit. She might be right.”
This tough-love note has tagged along with me from job to job, and has lived on my bookshelves for the last 11 years at Peopledesign. And whenever we have an office-cleaning day I find it, read it, make a fresh copy, and tuck it back into my keeper file. And then I quietly say thanks to that professor who didn’t worry about hurting my feelings.
Shortly after the most recent unearthing of the “keepsake”, this HOW article was yammered by Gina, along with the following comment: “Will someone write a better ‘Things Young Designer’s Need to Know.’ I’m sick of seeing things like ‘make mistakes’ and ‘be yourself’. What about, ‘there is such a thing as bad rags’.”
I happen to agree with much of what the folks at id29 have written. But if I read between the lines of Gina’s comment, what I’m really hearing is the desire for a give-it-to-me straight approach to mentoring. And given my attachment to a raggedy college-era Post-it note, it seems obvious that I agree with her. This can be an effective method. So I’ve asked for help from the rest of my Peopledesign cronies to create our own list of words-to-the-wise. After all, they’re the ones that have taken their time to nudge, shape, and lovingly bully me into being a better designer, so who better to ask? Here goes:
Forget about what you did at school. It doesn’t matter.
Come up with great ideas and learn how to realize them.
Attitude is everything.
Get out of your own way.
Exist to make your employers’ lives easier, not harder.
Don’t be ruled by the grid. (See #12. I never said we always agree.)
Always sketch the boss’s idea first before moving onto your own.
Great projects won’t be handed to you – make your projects great.
Every project is an opportunity to learn something.
Stay fresh – if you’re on auto pilot, get into another field (you’ll be happier).
Learn what it was like to design not using a computer.
Learning to use grids effectively can make your life easier and your design better.
Art may be your muse, but business is your friend.
Don’t try to be original, try to be really great.
Make friends with copywriters.
If you have free time ask if there’s something you could be helping with. If there isn’t anything, clean.
Don’t rule out an idea without trying it first.
Don’t edit your sketches before reviewing with your design lead. Edit together.
Work is not personal.
Art is personal expression. Design is solving business problems.
Anticipate next steps.
You don’t know it all, so don’t pretend to. Truth is, we don’t know it all either.
Admit your weaknesses. But being a team-player better not be one of them.
Be comfortable being part of a support system. Prove your worth and you’ll be recognized for your contributions and awarded with more responsibility.
Have an opinion. And be open to other people’s opinions.
Explore, explore, explore. Edit later.
Practice articulating your thoughts. If the execution is weak, a good idea could be cut if you’re unable to explain your approach.
Get a hobby.
Earlier this year I was tasked with overhauling the website for The Newspaper which is run by students at the University of Toronto. While their developer hasn’t finished with it yet, you can now take a peek at how it’s progressing.
Designing content-heavy sites is always tough. How do you present lots of information without cluttering up the page? This was the question I kept in mind throughout the months I worked on each revision of the site.
As comparison, here is the old website courtesy of the WaybackMachine.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!
Design is a vessel. There’s the whole Buddhist thing about the essence of a bowl being its emptiness—that’s why it’s useful. Its emptiness allows it to hold something. I guess that means that design must talk about something else. If you make design about design, you’re just stacking bowls, and that’s not what bowls are for. — Frank Chimero