I would give the same advice that I would give to anyone who’s considering going into a creative profession, which is to really ask yourself if you need to do it professionally. I’m not sorry I went into design, but in retrospect, all the things that I like about design I actually could have done for fun and had a completely different experience…. Sometimes I think people feel like it’s not good enough to do something causally. But you enjoy it in a different way. So when I sit down to do design now, I enjoy it, but I don’t feel like I have exactly the same kind of loose fun that I had with it when I didn’t know what I was doing, because I have rules in my head and it’s my job. I’m much faster and better at it, and I find satisfaction in it. But there’s nothing wrong with being an amateur.
So I would ask that question first: Is there a reason I want to become a designer? Because every creative profession takes something out of you. I mean, all professions do, but I feel like maybe with other professions, they’re easier, at the end of the day, to shut off your brain—or at least I’ve found that. You don’t have that feeling of, “I’m going to fail at this.” And it’s also usually better for your paycheque. You can make a good living, but it’s not right for you if you really want money. I honestly don’t think graphic design is the way to go.
When I sit down to do design now, I enjoy it, but I don’t feel like I have exactly the same kind of loose fun that I had with it when I didn’t know what I was doing….Every creative profession takes something out of you.
Secondly, I would see if there’s any way you can go to a convention or, especially if you’re a student, get into people’s firms. Ask them, “Can I spend a day at your firm, just helping out? I’ll get coffee or something.” Because I think you really want to get the energy of different branches of design. I find people in book design have a very different energy than, say, people in marketing. People in marketing I find are much more gregarious and have more energy; people in book design tend to be much more gentle. And I like book people—I feel like I get along with them. Whereas when I’m with marketing people, I like them, but I don’t… know that I would do as well. Maybe now I would, but as a young person, starting out, I think you want to be with your tribe, people who are like you. I think people underestimate the culture of what they’re going to be a part of, and I really do think that different professions have a very different feeling.
As a young person, starting out, I think you want to be with your tribe, people who are like you. I think people underestimate the culture of what they’re going to be a part of.