My name is Ugne and I am a Graphic Design student at FIT. I have been given an assignment for my Professional Writing class to conduct an informational interview, and since I really admire your work, I was wondering if i could ask you a few questions concerning the design industry. It wouldn’t take long (5-6 questions), and it could be done either in person or via email, whichever is more convenient to you.
Thank you in advance - looking forward to hearing from you.
I finally got some answers for you!
-What is your personal driving force as far as design goes?
I can’t shake the desire to create meaning in my work. By that, I mean bringing people together, being up front and honest in your story, educating, or inspiring.
An important part of establishing meaning is creating design that lasts. I think it’s important to recognise trends and stay away from fads which can sink work fast. If your work is short lived it’s a waste of everyone’s time and a poor investment. To get to meaning, you have to be bold enough to fight politics, lingo, and bureaucracy, yet be diplomatic enough to let the client be part of the process of creation. After that tightrope walk, all you need to do is roll all of your smart decisions into something beautiful. : )
-Where do you think the design industry is headed?
Design is going to continue going the way of digital. It will evolve as new technologies gain mass adoption. design elements like motion and sound will become more prevalent as devices become more powerful, and innovations like flexible screens will leave their imprint. I believe we will see more handmade craft (a la Etsy) and projects that move away from corporate money and are funded by individuals (like Kickstarter). Hopefully these movements will change the landscape to empower individual designers and smaller creative teams.
-How do you cater to your clients’ wishes without losing a sense of who you are as a designer?
So you think that my clients’ wishes can never by aligned with my own?
(You might have a point. No offense, clients!)
I know this sidesteps your question a bit, but my answer is: You need to find better clients. Work for stupid clients and it will rub off on you. Work for smart clients and you’ll push yourself to new heights. Over time you learn to say no more often and go for jobs that align themselves with your goals.
Of course you don’t have that luxury from day one. It’s sort of like the Katamari video game where you control a ball that picks up stuff in the house and grows until you role up the whole house. In the beginning it may seem like you are bouncing off off every obstacle. But then you start to pick up things and grow. You get better at picking battles, at presenting, you learn about your weaknesses, maybe you earn more, you speak publicily, and you start gaining recognition. Along the way you become substantial enough to create your own gravity. In the long run, the more you stay your path, the fewer compromises you need to make. Just do me a favour and don’t roll yourself too fat! Keep some modesty alive.
-What challenges/struggles have you encountered while working in the field?
All of them! I started a business with a partner who was as stubborn as I was and the business fell apart, I almost went broke with another partner afterwards, lost friends by hiring them, got verbally abused by a client, and even had a creative director threaten me with a clenched fist.
But even though it seemed like a big deal at the time, none of it was really that bad. It was necessary to grow and learn. Wisdom is a strange animal — we can’t use it until we’ve lived through it.
-What advice would you give to someone who was handed a freshly printed diploma and entering the industry “battlefield” for the first time?
Is that how it is perceived? As a battlefield? So you only really have two possible answers here: Fight or flee.If you are talking about finding a job: Find a firm whose work you admire. Then be more creative and dig deeper than the rest. People who hire want to be surprised and delighted. They want to know that your style matches theirs and that you can advance it. Don’t just send in a cookie-cutter resumé and wait for it to do magic. Find what makes you different, then communicate it. It’s called design, use it on yourself!
And one more question, off the record, and only if you’re up to it:
Overall, has having an unusual name in an English-speaking world worked for or against you?
I read through the thought process behind your own company’s identity design and how you had to work around the issue of people constantly misspelling your name, and it rang a bell.
This comes purely from personal curiosity of someone who has been watching people make facial expressions that would seem physically impossible when confronted with the sight of her name.
It helped. I probably have 100 Erics, Brians, or Johns in my address book. Introduce me to another one, I’d forget their name in a second.
I am not going to forget Ugne.
Hope this is useful and not too preachy!