Inspiring Minds

POSTED BY on Feb 12, 2013

On Thursday, February 7th, Amy Marshall and I had the pleasure of speaking to the SCCA AIGA group at Seattle Central Community College on the topic of my journey as a designer. As I introduced myself, Amy and I did the quick math and realized that I've been in the business for close to 20 years! Ack!

My talk centered around this quote from the illustrious Ira Glass:

"What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me… is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work."

In preparation for the talk, I unearthed some old work and personally recounted experiences starting with my early days as a junior designer in Dallas. As I did so, the Ira Glass quote literally manifested itself in front of me. 

The SCCC students got to see, as proof, that my early work had great intentions, but it was not quite up to full potential. Plainly put, they got to see work that I would never show to anyone now (way too embarrassing!). But it was all to prove the point that the more work you do, the better you will get.

I walked the students through 20 years of my experience in design with haste, eventually ending with pieces I've had the pleasure of working on during my tenure at Hornall Anderson. Then Amy and I opened the floor up to questions, which we both felt would be the most helpful to students, especially the ones preparing for graduation this spring. 

It was inspiring to be around design students, to simply be in their environment, and to recall my wee days (and nights) as a student preparing my own portfolio. I wish I could collect and use the students' youthful enthusiasm for myself. But I suppose they'll need that energy. :0)

Lauren graduated with a BFA in Communication Graphics from Texas Christian University. She has worked in Dallas for various design firms, and moved to Seattle in 1999. Today, Lauren loves her work as a Senior Designer and a mom, she's a passionate environmentalist, she dances like nobody's watching, and occasionally writes about herself in the third person.

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Feb 13, 2013 at 1:40pm

Kat, you are so kind! I'm certain that most design dates itself. But some of the best design doesn't. That said, I am probably my harshest critic. :) Thanks for attending last week! It was fun.

Kat Countiss

Feb 12, 2013 at 7:09pm

I'm convinced that your work that seemed really good in the 90s and you shouldn't be embarrassed to show it off. Times change and I know we'll look back on this era and think "what happened to the notion of design in the early millennium?" and "I can't believe we wore pants that color!"


Feb 12, 2013 at 4:57pm

You're certainly welcome, Ashlee! It was our pleasure.

Please pass this important tid-bit on to others that I forgot to mention during my talk...

Following my 50 job interviews after graduation, I got 3 job offers on the same day! So I didn't have to settle on a taking any design job that would take me during a bad economic slump; I actually got to choose. :0) Hard work always pays off. Just like Ira said, don't give up!


Feb 12, 2013 at 4:49pm

Thank you Lauren!
We brought up your talk in our critique today during a discussion about working on teams!