Dear Design Student

I’m always inspired by the enthusiasm that students have for design. As we enter a new semester, I’ve jotted down some thoughts that I think design students might find helpful.

Creative inspiration is a myth

Inspiration is very much like luck; it seems random and often not on your side. You need to give yourself time to create junk but make sure you’re working towards a goal and working within a schedule or framework that moves the project forward.


Value your time

I didn’t study design until I was in graduate school, so by that time I knew the value of my time; This was not the case when I was younger. You only have a few short years to create a body of work that reflects your ideas, skills, and craft. Find inspiration outside of the studio but always remember what you’re there for.


Speak up

Talking is a skill. In school and in your career, you will talk to people—either presenting in front of a crowd or one-to-one conversation, being an effective speaker takes practice. So don’t hold back, often people are waiting for the right opportunity to tell you their story or your next big opportunity can come in the form of an impromptu conversation.


Learn about things

The best designers I’ve known are not just designers. They are curious people who have chosen design to express themselves or frankly it was the easiest way to make a living while still being able to do other creative things. Learning about other things besides design will improve your work and will allow you to speak about your work in different contexts.


Kill your darlings

A professor once told my class that “nothing is too precious” as he destroyed a beautiful piece he created during a classroom demo. At the time it was jarring to see, now looking back, I realize it was helpful. Everyone respects the power of editing, but taking out the garbage is easy. Sometimes our personal attachments can seem vital. It’s important to recognize when to let things go.


Nobody likes “The Ideas Person”

Ideas are worthless without execution. Don’t be afraid to find collaborators and collectives to execute a big idea but unless you’re also “the money person”, nobody likes that person who never seems to get their hands in the dirt.


Typography matters

Do you know what speaks louder than words? Well-designed words. Good typography is a simple way to distinguish yourself as a designer, and being sloppy is a great way to get ignored. Everyone wants attention, but not everyone is clear about their intentions. Good typography is a way to make your intentions clear.


We hope everyone has a great semester and we look forward to seeing what you all create. If you’re interested in sharing your work with us, reach out! And if you’re looking for more advice for young designers, check out the original “Dear Design Student” for some great advice from some smart people.