I’m twenty-four. I live in a city. I buy real furniture. I can keep plants and animals alive. I vacuum. I scrub the toilet. I frame my artwork.
I travel. I don’t worry about all the places I’ll never see.
Poverty concerns me. I don’t know what to do about it. I may understand the basics of politics. I doubt I really do. I vote anyway.
I use words like frenemy. I apologize for being late. I go out to brunch. I eat dinner at 10pm. I dance all night—occasionally. On weekends I sleep til 11. I go to concerts. I take disco naps. I check myself out in window reflections. I wear skyscraper tall high heels. I laugh loudly. I work out. I get manicures. I try to watch what I eat. I go back for seconds. I can host a dinner party.
My parents are mortal. I worry about their health. I get along with my siblings. I don’t call as often as I should.
I’ve fallen in love. I’ve fallen out of love. My older friends are tying the knot and having babies. The thought of a child makes me nauseous. The thought of love does not.
I cry for silly reasons. I have a streak of arrogance. I still believe in justice and meritocracy. I go on rants with other arrogant young people. They are my best friends. I make things with them. I want to change the world. I believe someday I will.
I’d rather learn from the internet than from a person. I try to do it myself before I ask for help. I pull out my phone to settle debates and confirm wild stories. I digitally catalog my life. I photograph everything. I overshare. I live by metrics.
I learn fast. I can’t sit still. I’m not concerned with balance. I want to work. I’ll stay up all night. I can do anything. I can’t do everything. I understand my limits. I’m realizing my potential.
I’m almost twenty-five. I’m ready.
Stewart and I chatted about design education recently. Plenty of people succeed without a degree, but plenty of people don’t.
You should go to school, but you should go to a good school. However, there are definitely things you don’t learn until you’re out hustling with the best of ‘em.
Some things I learned in school:
(or, things that I picked up in the pressure cooker of CMU):
It’s possible to live on 3 hours of sleep for up to a week and not lose all functionality (but you will become socially inept).
You can cook a feast for under $10.
Kill your darlings and your real darlings will shine.
If people look at your work and have nothing to say, it means it’s unremarkable. Start over.
The pain of the push is forgotten after the glory.
Failure is forgiven.
People have the power to fulfill your karma.
Look at your process work. It will make you want to keep going.
Things take time.
Good design looks inversely effortless to the toil put into it.
Contrast is king.
Don’t put lipstick on pigs.
There’s a metaphor for everything.
How to kern.
How to pair typefaces.
Sometimes the only way to know is to try it.
Authorities are sometimes wrong.
The computer’s a tool, not a magic box. Don’t rely on it.
Constraints are good.
Don’t date people in your studio.
Some things I learned after school:
(or, things education did not help me with)
Never use pure black (#000) as body text in digital media.
Talent matters, but less than network at first.
Fake it and there’s a good chance you’ll make it.
Success is slow.
401ks, stocks, RSUs, PPO, HSA.
How to work with engineers.
How to work with clients.
Try not to put yourself in a position where you have to please too many people.
Chain of people to please: User > You > Art Director > Client
Things take a long time.
It’s normal to take a few hours a day for your own enjoyment.
It’s hard to do good work when you’re worrying about money.
People will hate you for being brave.
People will love you for being brave.
Assume everyone around you is doing the best they can and you’ll be happier.
In-house designers aren’t designers who gave up—they’re designers who believe in a cause.
Your friends are still your best asset, even professionally.
Photoshop layer effects: drop shadow: set to 90 degrees.
Have other interests besides design.
Famous designers are accessible.