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)