feibisi / 2018年12月12日

Build Solidarity, Tackle Exclusion, and Redefine Success: 10 Ways to Use Design for Good

We looked around saw how design had a tremendous positive impact on society this year. From crafting new products aimed at accessibility to bolstering democracy, here are 10 inspiring ways creatives applied their craft to making the world a better place.

1. Don’t expect a user to be satisfied with the status quo.

ELIA is a free font that low vision and blind users can learn in—purportedly—an afternoon. It’s just one of a constellation of products, like text-to-speech technology, aimed to bring more assistive technology than the single option of Braille to the U.S.’s eight million blind people. “We are focused on helping people achieve greater independence and literacy,” says founder Andrew Chepaitis. “It’s been really challenging. But I’ve had faith that this initiative is the most worthwhile I could spend each day.”

Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful. Image courtesy of Fetell Lee.

Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful. Image courtesy of Fetell Lee.

2. Fill overlooked spaces with joy.

IDEO’s Ingrid Fetell Lee believes the aesthetics of our surroundings—like bright, happy colors—are a powerful tool to enliven a community. She’s developed a syllabus of joyful design that she hopes will be a resource that brings aesthetic delight to overlooked spaces like nursing homes, public housing, and schools in underserved neighborhoods. “I’d like to see the places that house the people who are most vulnerable designed with as much aesthetic sensitivity as the places that house the people who have tons of resources,” says Lee.

3. Volunteer to redesign your government.

The Center for Civic Design brings the elegant solutions of design to the complex needs of voting. Simple gestures like directions that say ‘turn ballot over’ or text that works for assistive apps can have a profound impact on our democracy. “The potential role of design in government is to change how government works,” says Civic Design’s co-founder Dana Chisnell. She suggests designers bring their much needed skills to the table. Get started by volunteering as a poll worker in your next local election to see the kinds of challenges and questions voters have.

Carmen Herrera photographed in her New York studio. Image courtesy of Herrera.

Carmen Herrera in her New York studio. Image courtesy of Herrera.

4. Prioritize long-term fulfillment.

The world whispers ‘money’. Your clients demand your creativity and hard work. But you, and only you, are the one who makes room for fulfillment. That means developing muscles around taking a step back and applying a healthy dash of perspective. According to lifelong designers who have been around the block a few times, one secret to a fulfilling career is seeing the big picture—thinking in systems, not pixels; in decades, not deliverables. Or, as abstract artist Carmen Herrera, who got her first Whitney Museum retrospective at age 101, says: “Patience, darling, patience.”

Image of the iconic Rainbow Flag. Photo by Ink Drop.

The iconic Rainbow Flag. Photo by Ink Drop.

5. Make a banner for people to gather around.

The history of identity-driven banners got a colorful new chapter when Gilbert Baker developed his iconic Rainbow Flag, which celebrates LGTBQ culture. Baker “created a symbol of hope and inclusion for an oppressed minority at a time when their efforts at liberation were new,” recalls Baker’s estate overseer, Charley Beal. Create community and impact with symbols that help people trumpet their identity and their solidarity.

6. If you’re in the room where it happens, influence what happens for good.

Naresh Ramchandani and the Pentagram team at Do the Green Thing believe creatives can have a powerful positive influence on their corporate clients. Use the access of being in the room to expand a corporation’s idea of what success means. “Too often, commercial creativity is self-serving for a corporation and their P&L,” says Ramchandani. “Put something good into the world.”

Designer Marie van Driessche presenting on World Interaction Design Day in New York City. Photo by Joe Anastasio.

Designer Marie van Driessche presenting on World Interaction Design Day in New York City. Photo by Joe Anastasio.

7. Provide choice.

Not everyone thinks or functions like the person designing a product. People take in information in all sorts of different ways—whether due to preference or ability. One choice can’t suit everyone’s needs. To design for all, inclusive designer Marie van Driessche advises colleagues to make sure their products include multiple options for how to engage.

8. To tackle exclusion, find a place outside your comfort zone.

Automattic Head of Inclusion, John Maeda, went all the way to Appalachia to break out of the comfortable grooves of his usual mindset. The goal? Find how people were being excluded from Automattic’s product, and then design for them. “How do we find exclusion?” Maeda asks. “It’s by being in environments unlike the ones we’re used to.”  

9. Create space for joy at home in order to bring joy to work.

Your company’s culture, not just its work, should reflect its mission. Jason Mayden, founder of healthy play startup Super Heroic, makes sure that the spirit of prioritizing imaginative play for children extends beyond the office doors. “We have an open, healthy dialogue that’s focused on promoting work/life balance,” says Mayden. “We have to play with and enjoy our families in order to embed joy in the work that we do. It’s imperative that we live what we speak.”

Indhira Rojas is the founder of Anxy, a magazine about creatives' inner worlds. Image courtesy of Rojas.

Indhira Rojas is the founder of Anxy, a magazine about creatives’ inner worlds. Image courtesy of Rojas.

10. Remember, you’re human.

There are times where you’ve hit the sweet spot. The world is onboard with your passion. The planet is throwing opportunity your way. Care for yourself as thoughtfully during the boom seasons as the low times. Don’t let opportunity get the better of your health. “When you want to create impact, it feels like the sacrifice and the hard hours are all worthwhile,” says Anxy founder Indhira Rojas. “And then you faint in the subway and you remember that you’re human.”

feibisi / 2018年12月8日

What Digital Creative Agencies Can Expect in 2019

Digital creative agencies are traditionally known for being disruptors. But they’re the ones now being disrupted.

Today, agencies are striving to succeed in a highly-complex, tech-driven ecosystem comprised of consultancies, product design studios, venture labs, and in-house teams, according to the findings of the latest annual SoDA Digital Outlook Report released by the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA). In this increasingly challenging environment, the report suggests that companies and business leaders embrace collaboration, agility, transparency, speed, and a deep commitment to customer experience.

All of that is easier said than done, of course. “Clients are expecting end-to-end solutions, the agencies are fighting the consultancies, and everybody seems to be racing towards the middle,” says Wesley ter Haar, SoDA board member and founder and COO at global creative agency MediaMonks (left in the above photo). “That’s a difficult spot for a lot of people.”

In the interview below, ter Haar shares his views on the state of the industry and where it’s headed.

The SoDA Digital Outlook Report for 2018/2019 is out. Do you feel like it is an accurate reflection of the state of the industry?

Yes, it feels like everybody is racing to the same spot, so it’s getting as compressed and condensed as I think it’s ever been. I think we are seeing that reflected in some of the SoDA numbers, but also in the general turmoil in the network part of our industry. There are a lot of new lines of competition, because of everything that has been blurring over the last few years.

What is happening in the industry that is making 61 percent of agency leaders re-evaluate their business model? Is this healthy?

It is healthy in the sense that your hand is being forced because so much has changed in terms of how clients expect their businesses to be serviced. While it’s not helping people sleep well at night, I do think it is healthy. It’s no longer just about the work we do, but also how our clients expect us to execute that work.

The report says 30 percent of digital agencies are working with voice, AI, and physical experiences. Is this a stretch for shops who built their reputations on websites and apps?

There is definitely growth there. You just need to be hyper-aware this is that decision-making point where you have to decide if you are going to go after something. If so, is that actually going to be a long-term, scalable, commercial opportunity?

Right now innovation is a shiny thing. It’s more about the perception of innovation and getting PR around something rather than it being genuinely innovative.

The Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world are going to solve a lot of the heavy lifting, and we will be working with APIs like we have always done. Anything impacting at scale will not need custom solutions in time.

Why do 70 percent of client-side marketers list “brand differentiation through innovation” as the single most important strategic factor driving success for their business?

Right now innovation is a shiny thing. It’s more about the perception of innovation and getting PR around something rather than it being genuinely innovative. For example, I don’t think it necessarily means that you did a cool AR project, or that you have a chatbot. Real innovation is more about working out the opportunity that these new platforms have and then matching it against our products, services, and business.

“How big can you get before you become bad at what you do?”

Real innovation lies in learning how to start matching your products and services to evolve with user behavior. You have to be aware that, although innovation work doesn’t always return an instant ROI, the most important thing is what you learn from it.

Marketing automation was listed as the top emerging technology for 2019. How are creative-led agencies involved in this?

I think it’s an opportunity more than a risk. Marketing automation used to be stuck with the IT integration side of the business. There was a lot of heavy lifting and, in some cases, it was seen as too far a reach for creative shops. Today, with some of the APIs, a creatively-oriented company can add in what they are great at, which is understanding user behavior and adding a level of empathy to what is possible from an engineering perspective. They can leverage the platforms for more of a user story that actually resonates at a much higher level than the integration partners were able to do.

The sweet spot is the mix between the practicality of being a smaller, digital-first indie shop and knowing how best to use the data.

Marketing automation should be an underlying data set with an ability to target that makes the user experience better. So much marketing automation goes with the lowest common denominator and doesn’t add any actual value. It’s either creepy or underwhelming.

As an industry that differentiates on creativity, why is there this shift towards “strategy, data, and technology” which has traditionally been the backbone of consultants who have entered our market?

There will always be shops that focus on that and there is an interesting conversation around whether you need to be literate when it comes to strategy and data, or a specialist. I do think a lot of the SoDA agencies needed to extend into some of these things so they could have a recognizable conversation with clients. It’s not just the things we do, but also about making those things something people will buy, which means it needs to meet these industry expectations. The sweet spot is the mix between the practicality of being a smaller, digital-first indie shop and knowing how best to use the data.

Your company, MediaMonks, has announced it is combining production with content, data, and media. What is behind this big shift, and are you worried that this is going to change the culture of the company?  

As an industry, there has been so much focus on making everything quicker and cheaper. We are aware of that and trying to get past those issues. More and more it is about the effectiveness of the work and showing that we impacted the bottom line. To do that well, we think there needs to be an extension into media and data because it closes the loop. We can create the work, we can place it, we can measure it. It gives us more ownership. When we get learnings about the impact of a piece of work, we can bring that back into our next projects.

The second part is that our business is talent-driven, and it is always going to be about people doing good work. There is the recurring question we ask ourselves: “How big can you get before you become bad at what you do?” I think adding that element of measurement is going to be interesting for our current and future talent.

feibisi / 2018年12月7日

Mas Subramanian Set out to Make a Semiconductor and Ended Up with a New Blue Pigment

Materials science professor Mas Subramanian wants to set the record straight. First off, the Oregon State researcher did invent a new blue pigment, a feat that no person, laboratory, or corporation has been able to accomplish in about 200 years. It’s a big deal, and not just because of the “Oh cool, a new pigment” factor.

Secondly, and in a passionate plea for sanity, he did not invent a new blue color. Ignore the incorrect label on his TEDx Talk – a title he surely didn’t give it. Colors, or shades, are inherent to the light spectrum, which isn’t something one can create. But he’ll explain that more later.

And thirdly, even if he did, which he didn’t, that’s not what’s so cool about his new YInMn Blue. This pigment – remember, not color – is vastly different than other pigments on the market and has the potential to shake up the multibillion-dollar world of pigments. Yes, that’s billion, with a b. This is a huge industry because we interact with pigments every day. They are on our walls, in our clothes, on our cereal boxes, in makeups and sodas, and, well, everything. And the pigment industry continues to find new uses for its products every year.

Blue does not exist in nature – no, really.

“The global pigments market is expected to reach revenues of $34.2 billion by 2020, due largely to extraordinary growth in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a 2016 Ceresana report titled Market Study: Pigments, 3rd Edition.

To dive into the how, why, and what is going on, Subramanian wants everyone to take a step back first. Before we get carried away with a shiny new pigment that’s easy to visualize and understand, it’s important to be grounded in the science.

Blue, as he was told during his 21-year-plus career at DuPont, is one of the hardest pigments to create. In fact, blue does not exist in nature – no, really. There’s no debate about it. Well, then, what about, say, Frank Sinatra’s blue eyes? Not blue.

To claim you made a new color is like the scientific equivalent of Columbusing – “discovering” something that’s been around forever.

In the case of eye color, blue is actually the lack of a pigment. What we see is one of nature’s many tricks. The color is entirely structural. Sinatra types actually lack the eye pigment melanin, such that when a “blue”-eyed person moves their eye, the color we see changes slightly. And blueberries: Just rename them berries, ’cause that blue part is a sham.

But we do see blue. You’re not crazy. When we see blue it’s because of the inherent properties of light. When light travels, it moves in waves. The size of the wavelength determines what, if anything, we see. The difference between a blue, a green, or an undetectable infrared is just the frequency at which the light wave moves. So when Subramanian says you can’t create a new color, he’s technically correct, because the wavelength is out there already. To claim you made a new color is like the scientific equivalent of Columbusing – “discovering” something that’s been around forever. And he doesn’t want to be the pigment world’s Christopher Columbus.

The visible spectrum, from color purple to red.

Image by Julie Campbell.

So then, what’s a pigment? A pigment is what gives something else its color. It is what makes that white bucket of paint at Home Depot or Lowe’s turn into a color like RAL 2053 or whatever else, after the paint-mixing machines squirt a few inks – pigments – into it and give it a good shake.

The professor’s discovery is a new squirt. And that gives manufacturers a range of new possibilities – and possibilities mean money. “The biggest inorganic blue is ultramarine blue,” says Mark Ryan, marketing manager for Shepherd Color Company, the sole distributor of the new pigment. “Ultramarine is similar in shade to YInMn blue, but not nearly as durable, because it has acid stability issues. YInMn’s stability opens it up to a marketplace where the rival blues can’t quite compete.”

YInMn, or Mas blue, gets its name from the three core elements in addition to oxygen: yttrium, indium, and manganese. It’s only the third inorganic blue pigment ever discovered, following Prussian blue and cobalt blue – the newest having been created in 1802. (Ultramarine doesn’t quite qualify as a discovery, as it’s a synthetic version of something that’s been used for 6,000 years.) But this creation is more than just a new, more vibrant blue. The blue is made through a process that hasn’t previously been used to make pigment. The result of this process gives YInMn blue special properties that could make it a game-changer for how cars, homes, and even roofs are made.

Mas blue was discovered in 2009, more than 100 years after cobalt blue.

Image by Julie Campbell.

For one, it’s very stable. That’s a common hallmark difference between organic and inorganic pigments. It’s not a universal truth, but typically inorganic pigments have greater stability. “When you think of organic, it means it’s carbon-based, not that it’s from Whole Foods,” Ryan says. The most common blue is phthalocyanine blue BN, and it is organic. It has a lot of tint strength. It weathers okay; it’s inexpensive. But if you’re looking for something that will last decades, especially lighter blue shades, it’s not the right choice. Rather, phthalocyanine blue is used in quickly disposed things, like plastics.

But when you have an application where you need the color to last, a different blue is necessary. Something like car colors, or roofs, which are sometimes blue in industrial settings. These are times when YInMn could really make a difference, Ryan explains.

Another big difference is its special material properties. Anyone who has sat in a black car on a summer day knows the basic principle of how color works, whether they realize it or not. The darker the color we see looks, like black, the more light it absorbs and the hotter it feels when we touch it. But not this blue, or the colors made with Subramanian’s new process. In fact, this blue pigment reflects light very similarly to the way white does. So how we think about keeping our spaces cool may be entirely rethought.

As remarkable and potentially profitable as this discovery is, the truth is it was a sort of mistake.

Pigments and colors are one of a number of very basic material properties that we all sort of understand, but the general public doesn’t truly know what’s going on, says Patrick Woodward, a solid state chemist at Ohio State University. “Color is somewhat unusual in that everyone inherently understands what color is, and to a first approximation you don’t need any instrumentation to determine the color of a substance. You can’t say the same thing about piezoelectricity or superconductivity or even magnetism. The other thing people don’t understand is that not all colors are equally easy to produce,” he adds.

And it doesn’t take a degree from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Economics to guess that rarity can translate into profitability quite quickly. If pigments are hard to produce, an inorganic blue may be only second in covetability to an inorganic red. As remarkable and potentially profitable as this discovery is, the truth is it was a sort of mistake. Subramanian isn’t, or wasn’t, a color researcher. He was in the semiconductor game.

Mas Subramanian holding a piece of YInMn blue in the lab.

Subramanian holding a piece of YInMn blue in the lab. Image courtesy of Oregon State University.

“We were looking for a semiconductor and got blue,” the Oregon State researcher says. “Now we are looking for a pigment, and I’ll probably find a semiconductor! You can never plan for what happens. There’s so much unknown in science. We think we can do everything by prediction or computer simulation. Once you create something you can explain it, but doing it the other way is harder. You need to have a more broad-minded approach, [or] you may miss something more interesting.”

Science, especially materials science, is filled with accidental discoveries that have changed the world. It’s a badge of honor to be able to accidentally discover something great and recognize it’s more than just a mistake. When Mas’s team heated yttrium, indium, and manganese oxides to about 2,200 degrees Celsius, the result was a blue powder. Shocked at the outcome, Subramanian told his team to run it again. And for a second time, a vibrant blue was created. So like any good researcher would, he ran test after test after test.

YInMn blue didn’t fade. It didn’t absorb light like a blue typically does. The process is able to be tweaked to yield other colors. The only current downside is the cost. But that may be a limitation of the times we live in, rather than an inherent problem. At $720 a kilogram, it’s not going to have wide market penetration.

Getting the EPA registrations can take anywhere from 90 days to never.

The big problem? Yttrium. This element just isn’t used much beyond some computing applications. And it’s also not easy to get, because it’s only found with other elements in compound form, never freely existing. But at least it’s not rare. It’s the 28th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust – 400 times more common than silver, a fairly everyday item.

But with a ramped-up effort to mine, extract, and process yttrium, the price could drop. Take, for example, silicon. At the dawn of the computer era, the cost of silicon wafers was sky-high. There just weren’t many companies extracting, purifying and making silicon wafers. But now, there are plenty of companies making it and silicon is used everywhere, and as such the price has dropped dramatically, making it possible to have a computer in every home and a phone in everyone’s pocket.

“In the beginning it’s always kind of challenging,” Subramanian says. It’s difficult to get industry to ramp up, because the few players in it are incentivized to keep the competition low and the margins high. But the demand is growing, and there is a tipping point. Eventually, the industry will be forced to increase its yttrium production.

On his first try, he made blue. So now the hunt turns to the big fish: red.

Already, Subramanian has signed a deal with Shepherd Color Company to make his blue commercially available. “The economics are definitely challenging,” Ryan says. “Also, getting the EPA registrations can take anywhere from 90 days to never; it’s a process. Right now we have a conditional approval for industrial use.” He added that Shepherd is well poised to make the pigment, because specialty pigments is the niche they are in. They, unlike Subramanian, can make it in high quantity and have a network of buyers in their orbit who can get YInMn into the market. 

And while Shepherd works on getting it used for things like roofs and large-scale industrial applications, Subramanian is back in the lab. Not making more blues, but taking his yttrium-based technique and expanding it to other colors. On his first try, he made blue. So now the hunt turns to the big fish: red.

If, or when, he does succeed, another billion-dollar market will open up and he’ll have the likes of Ferrari lining up to have a bright pigment that doesn’t absorb energy like colors typically do, doesn’t use hazardous elements (as reds often do), and doesn’t fade.

feibisi / 2018年12月6日

Weighing the Risk: What’s in a Name?

Welcome to our new column that explores the one element that almost every career decision is affected by—Risk with a capital “R.” Since every choice we make carries a risk, Good F***ing Design Advice co-founder Brian Buirge is going to examine both sides of the equation behind the decisions that creative entrepreneurs have to make. And joining him in this column is GFDA co-founder Jason Bacher who will be designing the visuals that accompany each piece. (Fittingly, the duo lead a workshop in The Art of Risk-Taking.)

In this second installment, Brian reflects on that time he and Jason decided to put the F-word in their company name and how, as years passed, what impact that has on GFDA’s client business. 

***

For the first few years of running Good F***ing Design Advice, I cringed whenever someone asked me what I did for a living. Telling someone you’re an entrepreneur can be a bit like saying you’re a future American Idol.

Good manners and social normalcy then, of course, bring about the inevitable follow-up question, “Oh, well, what’s the name of your company?”

My answer was always a sheepish, “It’s uh…good f***ing design advice.” Which, in sticking with the analogy, was the equivalent of adding, “but, you know, I’m just scrubbing toilets until they call me back.”

I was naive in many ways as a young business owner, but, despite a few detractors, I was never ignorant of the stigma attached to the company name. While it clearly served its purpose of waking people up and getting them to pay attention to the messaging of our products, both my co-founder, Jason, and I constantly grappled with how to handle the name on the much more politically sensitive, client-facing side of our business.

More often than not, we found ourselves accepting suspicious, demanding clients, low budgets, and lengthy payment terms.

Additionally, since we’d grown considerably in a short time, some parts sprouted into maturity while others lagged behind, causing our voice to crack and our feet to trip over themselves at the most inconvenient moments. The awkwardness of our growing pains occasionally left us with limited prospects in our client relationships. Although we had achieved international recognition in one arena, we were complete amateurs in others. More often than not, we found ourselves accepting suspicious, demanding clients, low budgets, and lengthy payment terms (One client took upwards of three years to pay the balance of an invoice, but what professional creative doesn’t have that all too familiar story?).

Since the majority of our early design consultation work was primarily acquired through referrals, our stopgap solution was to present ourselves simply as Brian and Jason — two guys who were getting their careers started. Thereby omitting any mention of GFDA for fear of losing the client. It was an exhausting recurrent problem.

For both legal and practical purposes, we discussed creating a separate entity for our client work, and even stumbled through some terrible conceptual ideas for how that entity could be branded. However, as the saying goes, the cobbler’s son goes barefoot. Ultimately we never actually addressed the issue directly. Fortunately, as time moved forward, it became clear that splitting ourselves was not necessary, and perhaps even ill-advisable.

Does GFDA miss out on a clients because of the name? Absolutely…but, then again, who gets every client they go after?

Against all probability, it was possible for a business with the F-word in the name to develop into a state of maturity. The brand strategy grew with the business, and we did a better job of understanding and embracing who we were. That resolve began attracting clients who appreciated the skill and guts that came with our approach, and who genuinely wanted deeper insights into their cultural identities and practical applications of risk-taking in their work.

Nothing is more attractive than having the confidence to be yourself. That’s a risk worth taking.

Does GFDA miss out on a clients because of the name? Absolutely…but, then again, who gets every client they go after? No matter what our name is, we have to be a good fit for our clients or the work suffers and everyone is miserable. It saves a lot of time and money to figure that out as soon as possible. Besides, nothing is more attractive than having the confidence to be yourself. That’s a risk worth taking.

More importantly, our workshops have helped so many other people discover their own cultures, and live up to their own visions, that I now look forward to saying that I run Good F***ing Design Advice. It’s either going to start an interesting conversation, or preemptively end a boring one.

feibisi / 2018年12月5日

From Creative Bridges to Copyright Cash Cows: 99U’s 10 Best Entrepreneurial Ideas

A good entrepreneur mixes creativity, strategy, and smarts. From uncovering under-the-radar gems to the hard science of Gee whiz, how the heck do I price this?, we gathered some of the brightest ideas from 99U stories this year to help us put our entrepreneur thinking caps on.

Design Army co-founder Pum Lefebure in Design Army's new creative co-working space. Image courtesy of Design Army.

Design Army co-founder Pum Lefebure in Design Army’s new creative co-working space. Image courtesy of Design Army.

1. Create an experience.

Design isn’t just cosmetic fixes; it’s savvy business strategy that gets to the structural heart of a problem. When a real estate client asked Design Army to create a one-page magazine ad for its new condos, co-founder Pum Lefebure had a better idea: make your own magazine. The slick glossy profiles creatives and business in the developer’s neighborhood, with ads for the condos in the back pages. It’s a recurring win for both creative and client.

Metajive's Dave and April Benton deep in paperwork. Photographed by Franz Steiner.

Metajive’s Dave and April Benton deep in paperwork. Photographed by Franz Steiner.

2. Set a standard pricing formula.

Ask 10 people for their pricing strategies, and you’ll receive 10 different answers. Which is best for you? The one that works for you. So ignore what other businesses are charging or how much you think your client can afford to pay. Instead, focus on the value of you and your work. “We ask ourselves how much time will it take to do a good job, then multiply that by our hourly rate (cost + desired margin) and add in a 5 to 10 percent buffer for unexpected events,” says Metajive CEO and founder Dave Benton. “We use this principle no matter if the client is a 20-person company or a 2,000-person company.”

Lumi focuses on making the best looking packaging around, such as these bright orange shipping bags for Cotton Bureau.

Lumi focuses on making the best looking packaging around, such as these products for Cotton Bureau. Image courtesy of Lumi.

3. Search for opportunities where others aren’t looking.

“Usually, people starting businesses, and entrepreneurs in general, are very interested in looking cool and being cool people,” says Jesse Genet, co-founder of shipping supplies company Lumi. Instead of going for the glitter, ask yourself: What does everyone overlook? Packing tape, anyone?

4. Engage in creative hallucinations.

A designer is never executing the status quo. Good designers are always moving forward. Many people have great jobs, but they don’t change the way people do things; they don’t envision a different world. “Zero designers are just operating in the existing world,” says Jon Hirschtick, founder of computer-aided design software giant SolidWorks. “You have to see something that doesn’t exist. You have to engage in creative hallucination.” Visions and hallucinations look the same until you try to build them.

Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman makes coffee in the early days of his company. Image courtesy of James Freeman.

James Freeman makes coffee back in the early days of Blue Bottle Coffee. Image courtesy of James Freeman.

5. Embrace your constraints.

Art is about constraints, right? When Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman started out he had a cart and a 250-foot kiosk. Those constraints meant he couldn’t have a lot of extra stuff, so he had to be very pared down. And Blue Bottle’s hallmark design became recognizable for what is not there. “I don’t like things arranged on shelves, for example. Shelves are for books or dishes. They are a tool, not a decoration,” says Freeman. “After working on 40 cafes now, we mostly think about what shouldn’t be there.”

The World Character Summit in Hanyu, Japan. Photos by Chris Carlier, for his blog Mondo Mascots.

The World Character Summit in Hanyu, Japan. Photos by Chris Carlier, for his blog Mondo Mascots.

6. Make it cute.

This tenet sure doesn’t apply to all projects. But it’s hard to argue with the booming Japanese mascot market. “Simple, colorful, symmetrical designs tend to work best,” says artist Chris Carlier on what we can all learn from mascot design. “And don’t shy away from silly, absurd ideas—those grab the most attention.”

7. Don’t get sidetracked by other people’s best practices.

Having a lay of the land is important. But too often, overemphasizing industry averages, generalities, and best practices reveals a lack of trust in your own instincts. Remember, you’re the expert in the nuances of the problem you’re trying to solve. “Tasty little morsels of detail swim right in front of us every day,” says Jay Acunzo, author of Break the Wheel. “If only we’d use that information to inform our decisions.”

Radim Malinic's Book of Ideas is filled with his insights on the design life. Image courtesy of Radim Malinic.

Radim Malinic’s first Book of Ideas was so successful, he decided to publish a second volume. Image courtesy of Radim Malinic.

8. Treat your side hustle like your day job.

If Radim Malinic had treated his side hustle, the recently-published Book of Ideas, Volume 2, like a passion project, he’d still be writing today. Instead, he approached the project like a daily commitment. “There’s always an hour at the beginning or end of the day where you can do something for yourself,” he says.

A kitchen scene from Meow Wolf's immersive art installation that bridges the real and imaginary world. Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf.

Meow Wolf is an immersive art installation that bridges the real and imaginary world. Photo courtesy of Meow Wolf.

9. Build a bridge between creativity and capital.

Vince Kadlubek is a role model for turning a scrappy arts experience into a successful business with his art experience Meow Wolf. Now, he’s out to bridge the Grand Canyon-sized gap between creatives and business. The first step? “End this narrative that there’s such a thing as selling out. That’s what keeps creatives broke and powerless,” he says.

Delphine Diallo photographed holding boxing gloves outside in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Photo by Frances Tulk-Hart.

Delphine Diallo photographed in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Photo by Frances Tulk-Hart.

10. Copyright is your cash cow.

Photographer Delphine Diallo has plenty of prestige publications like The New Yorker and Esquire knocking on her door. But those shoots don’t pay all the bills. The real financial foundation of her business? The royalties that come in for usage of photos—on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and more—from big campaigns or celebrity projects. “I own the copyrights for my images for multiple years, and it can be renewed,” says Diallo. “These provide for me well beyond any editorial job.”

feibisi / 2018年12月1日

Working Remotely from Antarctica to Albania

It takes a while to get the end of the world. Helen Glazer would know.

Three years ago, Glazer left her cozy, three-bedroom home in the suburbs of Baltimore for the frigid climes of McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The trip took nearly two days and involved stops in Dallas, Sydney, and Christchurch, New Zealand.

When she finally flew into Antarctica on a military transport plane, dressed head-to-toe in special cold-weather gear, she was exhausted but thrilled. “I was just like, ‘I can’t believe I finally got here!’ I just put so much into this,” she says.

Helen Glazer stands in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica in 2015.

Helen Glazer stands in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica in 2015. Image courtesy of Glazer.

Glazer was part of the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers Program, which sends a handful of artists, illustrators, filmmakers, writers, and musicians to Antarctica each year for exploration and creative work. She lived out of a research base for nearly two months, photographing ice and rock formations while learning things she’d never before thought about, such as how to tell when ice is too thin to walk on and how to set up a tent in freezing weather conditions. It was an experience that shaped her profoundly. “I had no idea what I was getting into, really, but it was even better and richer than I had expected,” she says.

While in Antarctica, Helen Glazer photographed the dream-like lake ice at Cape Royds.

While in Antarctica, Helen Glazer photographed the lake ice at Cape Royds.

Glazer’s feelings echo those of so many creatives who have experienced life off the beaten path: It can be a hassle, but the rewards often outweigh the inconveniences.

For wildlife artist Deborah Ross, who has spent years bouncing between New York City and Africa, the allure of living and working in remote locales is strong. Much of her work has been based in Madagascar, where she’s worked on a variety of projects, including illustrations of lemurs and workshops for students. She estimates she’s been there at least six times over the past few years, and will spend another four months there in January. The only part she dislikes is the travel itself – it takes about 20 hours in the air, and another eight to 10 hours driving before she gets where she needs to go. “Dramamine is a wonderful drug,” she jokes.

From a creative perspective, Ross feels the wildlife is unbeatable. She describes it as a sort of “candy land” full of friendly animals and incredible insects. The moths are her favorite – there are bright purple ones, huge golden ones, and tiny spotted ones that she says look like Kandinsky paintings. But what she also loves about spending time in Madagascar is that it allows her to use all of her skills. “When I first went there, I was amazed that it was somewhere that used everything I had. I had to use my wits, my talent, my humor, my people skills. I found the country just delighted me,” she says.

The African countryside, with its open roads and lush vegetation, photographed by Deborah Ross.

The African countryside photographed by Deborah Ross.

That’s not to say her experiences have always been easy. Ross remembers being asked to do an illustration for a river cruise. She didn’t realize it was mandatory to paddle, or that she would have to dig a hole anytime she needed to go to the bathroom. It was all so labor intensive, and she was so consumed by the whole process that she didn’t even have time to paint, which was the whole reason she was there. “It was ridiculous,” she says.

One of the major things that have changed over the years is her ability to work efficiently. Most of that is a result of technology. When Ross first began going to Madagascar in the late ’90s, it was a hassle just to make a phone call or send an email. She recalls the process of working with the German Primate Society on an article – she would use someone’s computer to write out a message, and then the person would have to drive into town to find a dial-up connection so the message could be sent.

Nowadays, she doesn’t have to worry about any of that. Her post at Stony Brook University’s Centre ValBio, in the northeastern rain forests of Madagascar, has hot showers, fresh sheets, and – most important – high-speed Wi-Fi. “I just hook up my computer and scanner and I can do tons of work,” she says.

I would talk to my husband once a week on the phone, which was nice.

For Glazer, living and working in Antarctica also proved to be a relatively smooth adjustment. She describes life at the research station to be somewhat like college – she had a roommate and ate in the shared cafeteria. While the internet service was somewhat limited, she was able to start a blog to keep in touch with people. And she was actually able to make local calls to the U.S., as the line was routed through Denver. “I would talk to my husband once a week on the phone, which was nice,” she says.

Helen Glazer's photo "Skua" captures a frozen Lake Hoare in Antarctica.

“Skua,” Lake Hoare, Antarctica circa 2015. Photographed by Helen Glazer.

The creative benefits of working in Antarctica exceeded Glazer’s expectations. It wasn’t just a flat, white landscape, as she initially imagined it would be. In having the freedom to learn the land and live in a vastly unexplored territory, Glazer found all sorts of geological structures and patterns that blew her mind. She remembers, for instance, walking around a permanently frozen lake where the ice was evaporating and refreezing into an array of intricately etched designs.

“I still don’t know if anyone else has photographed those things, but I was fascinated by all of it,” she says. Upon her return, Glazer recapped her experience through more than 30 framed photographs and several sculptures in a solo exhibition called “Walking in Antarctica” at Goucher CollegeWhile she was ultimately happy to return to her family and friends in Maryland, and the creature comforts that came with it, the experience of living and working there continues to stay with her three years on. In fact, she’d like to go back. “I have my feelers out to see if there’s a way to do it,” she says.

To my parents, what I’m doing sounds completely weird. For me, it works perfectly.

While Madagascar and Antarctica are extreme places to live and work, there are creatives all over the world able to pursue their craft in regions outside of well-trodden locales. The explosion of technology has been instrumental in making the world much smaller than it once was, and it has fostered a culture of remote workers that continues to grow. Right now, more than two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least once a week, according to a recent survey by Switzerland-based serviced office provider IWG.

The trend has also been a boon for freelance workers. By 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce is expected to be freelance, according to a 2017 report by freelance marketplace Upwork. The beauty of it is that much of that growth is by choice – 63 percent of those surveyed by Upwork said they started freelancing by choice, not necessity, up from 53 percent since 2014.

For people like visual designer Vasjen Katro, the ability to work remotely has opened up many opportunities. Katro, 29, lives and works in his native Albania but does 98 percent of his business all over the world. With clients such as Adobe, Apple, Facebook, and Converse, he’s often juggling multiple gigs spread over multiple time zones. That sometimes means conference call at 3 a.m. “To my parents, what I’m doing sounds completely weird,” he says. “For me, it works perfectly and it’s why I love the internet.”

Vasjen Katro photographed in his studio, which is located in Albania.

Vasjen Katro photographed in his studio (right), which is located in Albania (left). Image courtesy of Vasjen Katro.

Katro, who lives in the capital city of Tirana with his girlfriend and their dog, finds working with international clients not only creatively inspiring but also financially rewarding. He generally earns higher rates than he would if he were to work only with local clients. And he’s able to save more than he would in many other places: In a recent cost-of-living ranking of 100 cities in Europe, Tirana came in at No. 86, while more established design hubs such as Geneva, London, Oslo, and Berlin were in the top 10 of cities with the highest cost of living.

Aside from the late-night conference calls, much of Katro’s day-to-day life is the way it would be in any other city. He starts his day with a coffee and a 10-minute trip to his studio, where he works on client assignments and “Baugasm,” a personal passion project that involves creating a poster a day and showcasing each one on Instagram. He also makes it his business to travel often for conferences and his own pleasure – recent trips include the U.S., Canada, Austria, and Italy.

“[Travel] is what keeps me alive,” he says. “Albania is a small country. I wouldn’t stay here more than two months without going somewhere.”

While he has no immediate plans to leave permanently, he says he’d like to live somewhere else for a while – not only for a change of pace, but for a bit of added convenience. “I would love to just order something from Amazon and get it the next day,” he says with a laugh.

feibisi / 2018年11月29日

Mona Chalabi on Statistical Standup, Play-Doh, and the Secret Language of Colors

With the power of an Olympic skater owning a gold medal routine, illustrator and data journalist Mona Chalabi took the 2018 99U Conference stage by storm with her visualizations on testicle size and hangover cures. We sat down for a longer conversation with the self-proclaimed TMI Queen about her journey beyond the halls of academia, the future of data journalism, and the likelihood that you’ll regret any tattoo she gives you.

Mona Chalabi skateboarding in her Brooklyn, New York neighborhood.

Mona Chalabi photographed skateboarding and reading in her Brooklyn neighborhood.

We know you best as a data journalist, but right now, on top of working at The Guardian US, you’re traveling for speeches, trying out acting, and you just got back from a fiction-writing retreat in Banff. What is that busy schedule like?

I feel like I complain about traveling all the time. When I was younger, I’d be like, “Do not complain about privilege like that! My friend always says the same thing when we’re feeling frustrated in our careers: “What would 18-year-old Mona think?” Eighteen-year-old Mona would be like, “Ahhh, you made it! You live in New York. You have acted in something.” Eighteen-year-old me would be so impressed. Thirty-one-year-old Mona is a bit like, “Eh.”

How did you become a data journalist?

I went to college. I studied international security. I went to go join the International Organization for Migration. I was producing reports there, and I felt really frustrated that the work was being read by a tiny handful of people. It’s funny – well, it’s not funny, it’s kind of disappointing: I wish more academics reached out to me to say, “Hey, I’ve got this data. Can you help me make sure that it has a big audience?” I used to hate working in an academic tone. But what’s exciting now is that I don’t have to write in that tone but I can still read that work. I feel like a big part of my job is to be a translator.

You speak multiple languages, plus you work in visualization, which sort of transcends language. How are you embracing this role of translator?

I’ve always been interested in languages. I grew up in a household where English was my parents’ second language, and they were really adamant that we would be raised speaking English. That first sparked my interest in language. I went to Jordan when I was 19 to try to learn Arabic. I failed miserably. It’s not a language you can learn in a summer. And then I went to France to study and stayed on there to do my master’s. I think that was actually a really important turning point in my career, because I realized how much – maybe you’ll totally disagree – I felt like when I was a speaking a foreign language, at a certain point, I wasn’t translating my English thoughts anymore. My brain was thinking in completely new ways.

Mona Chalabi photographed in her workspace where sketches double as wallpaper.

Chalabi photographed in her workspace where sketches double as wallpaper.

How was your brain working?

For example, the word sad has got such a weighted meaning for me in English because I’ve heard it in all of these different contexts, right? When you move to a new language and that word hasn’t been ascribed with years of memories, it’s a lightweight word. That means your use of it is different. There aren’t books that I’ve read with that word. I was free to think in different ways. If I was going to learn another language, I’d learn sign language, because I’m interested in languages that traverse cultures. Numbers can do that in an exciting way.

How do numbers do that?

Numbers, especially the actual digits, with very few exceptions, are universal across different places. And one of the goals of all the visualizations that I make is to reduce the number of words that I use to, hopefully, a point where you’re not seeing any words but it still makes sense. I’m a long way off from doing that, and it’s very difficult. But that would be the dream.

How did you move from producing reports for International Organization for Migration to data visualization?

I did a one-day workshop with Simon Rogers, who was then the data editor at The Guardian. And then I ended up getting an internship at The Guardian. It was an unpaid internship, so I could only do it one day a week. Then I ended up doing it two days a week. Then they needed me three days a week. And then I was like, “You got to pay me if you want me three days a week.” That’s how I got my foot in.

How did the transition to the U.S. happen?

I moved to America to work for a website called FiveThirtyEight. I only started to draw again because I hated that job so much that I would keep my sanity by doodling.

When I started, I was the only female writer. I was the only writer of color, and I was the only person who wasn’t American.

A lot of the thing is all about being proactive and trying to find solutions, but there are some workplaces that you should just get out of. I was never going to succeed there. There was no route for someone like me to succeed.

What does “someone like you” mean?

When I started, I was the only female writer. I was the only writer of color, and I was the only person who wasn’t American. It meant that every single room that I entered, I didn’t fit in. They prided themselves on being geeky and nerdy and that you were either smart enough to understand FiveThirtyEight or you weren’t. And that is not my philosophy about journalism at all.

What do you think information and data should be?

Accessible. It needs to be accessible to everyone – in particular, the people that need it to make informed decisions about their lives.

Did taking up illustration as a hobby help navigate you out of that toxic situation?

Those illustrations that I posted on Instagram made such a big difference. It gave me a little bit of confidence to see strangers reacting to them and saying the complete opposite of what I was hearing in that workplace.

Mona Chalabi takes a walk down the street in her Brooklyn neighborhood.

Color factors heavily into Chalabi’s work as each color can symbolize a different feeling.

How does color play into your work?

I think about it a lot. For example, [for a chart of] the Palestinian versus Israeli death rates, I needed to pick two colors that you would be able to visually differentiate from each other, because it’s tough to see the purple, because the Israeli deaths are quite low. I have to make two colors that are going to jump off the page. I can’t have any of them be green, because people will attack me and think I’m implying that those green deaths are fine, because green is “okay.” If I do red, that implies that those deaths are somehow more serious than the other ones. Blue feels a bit weird. It’s weird to choose orange and purple. I struggled a lot with the colors of that.

Mona Chalabi designed this chart that shows the Israeli and Palestinian fatality rate per month. Image courtesy of Mona Chalabi.

Chalabi designed this chart that shows the Palestinian and Israeli fatality rate per month. Image courtesy of Chalabi.

Going back to the baggage of language, I guess there’s baggage to color as well. And it’s not always the same across cultures.

That’s some deep baggage. For instance, in the U.K. our political red and blue is the other way around. Red is always a color of the left in all of Europe, pretty much in most countries. And blue is always conservative. It’s really weird that it’s the other way around here. It took me a long time to unlearn those colors here, and even still, if you show me the color red and say to me, “Left wing or right wing?” I’m going to say, “Left.” Always.

The image shows the most popular dog names in New York City. (Bella is the most popular.)

Chalabi’s piece from The Guardian about popular New York dog names based on data from the New York City Department of Health, 2017. Image courtesy of Mona Chalabi.

Have you ever tried stand-up?

I tried it when I moved over here. I did one where everyone loved it. I was like, “My God, I’m so good.” And then the next time, no. And then I was like, “I don’t think I have the stomach for this.” It was a stand-up about statistics. The starting point was these statistics about how often Americans curse versus Brits and went on to use that to talk about how Americans are repressed. Sorry.

That’s how we think about the British.

I know. Everyone thinks that. I think it’s the total other way around. Don’t you think you guys are a little bit repressed? A little bit?

A little bit.

Yeah. A little bit.

What’s the process of getting an assignment? How do you comb through all the information for it?

Most of the time I don’t have an editor. I’m coming up with stuff and doing the whole process myself. For a thing I worked on recently, The Guardian was producing a documentary called White Fright, which was about an attack on a community of Muslims in New York. The plan had gone really far and the terrorist was arrested just before it took place. He was trying to kill hundreds of people, and it got barely any press attention. I did a piece that was based on a forthcoming study which showed that Muslim perpetrators of terrorism get 357 percent more press coverage than non-Muslim perpetrators.

There are three questions you want to ask yourself before you take a commission: Is it good money? Will I grow professionally from it? And will I enjoy doing it?

I started up by doing this visualization analog, literally drawing them out and then photographing them from my notepads. I drew five different types of hands, five different ethnicities holding five different types of microphones, and then in a Photoshop file, you replicate those and you can see all of the layers, so I know for a fact I’ve got the right number. That also means that my Photoshop files are like 5,000 gigabytes.

Mona Chalabi takes a tea break in her home kitchen.

Chalabi takes a tea break in her home kitchen.

Where does your hand-drawn style come from?

For me, it’s important to show a human made this. With computer-generated graphs, it can seem like this completely neutral, perfectly objective thing that made the chart. And that’s not true. It’s a human who makes objective decisions about which rows and which columns in the data set to show you.

Also, it’s about replicability. I want people to feel like they are empowered. That not only can they understand it, but if they wanted to test it, they could recreate it themselves. And you can recreate anything that is hand drawn, right? Whereas with charts, most people don’t know how to create a computer-generated graphic. It’s about leveling the playing field.

If you could try out any new medium, what would it be?

I would absolutely love to create something that is really fun in stop motion. I’ve bought a ton of Play-Doh that’s sitting on my shelf at home. And I’m just like, “One day I’m going to do something fun in stop motion.”

Has anyone ever asked you to design a tattoo?

My friend was asking me to do it. I actually once did a piece on “How many people regret their tattoos?” Which is what I wanted to have tattooed on him: the probability that he’ll regret it. It would feel really special to me. I don’t have any tattoos because I’m so scared about marking myself for life. And this friend of mine is like, “Give me anything!”

What’s the best bit of money or salary advice you’ve gotten?

Before you set your rates, ask other people how they set their rates. Ask the client which territories it’s going to be used in. Ask where it’s going to appear, how many languages. Ask whether they’re going to own it in perpetuity, or for a certain amount of time. And then give them the price.

The world needs good journalism more than ever before. However, by and large most people are still unwilling to pay for journalism.

My general philosophy is bleed the private corporations dry. I was about to go on my first holiday in five years. And I got asked by a big corporation to make some illustrations, and I was like, “I would like $10,000 per illustration,” kind of knowing that they would say no, but also if they said yes, that’s fine. But with any nonprofits whose work I believe in, I basically charge them next to nothing.

There are three questions you want to ask yourself before you take a commission. The illustrator Hallie Bates was telling me this: Is it good money? Will I grow professionally from it? And will I enjoy doing it? And each job has to satisfy at least two of those three criteria. And the truth is, this is another thing about how privileged I am. Most people don’t even get to add in those second two criteria. It’s just about: “Is it going to mean I can pay the bills?”

What’s the biggest challenge for a data journalist in 2018?

There’s like five different things, and I’m like, “Which one should I say?”

You can also say them all. It’s a challenging year.

Yeah. One of them is keeping your integrity. For instance, at
The Guardian right now, I’m the only person who works with data and data sets like this. Someone will come to me and say, “What is the answer to X?” And I give it to them, and then it’s published. There is very little oversight of exactly how I’ve collected those numbers and exactly how I’ve crunched them. But it also means that someone with less integrity could be like, “This is close enough. Let’s just go with it.” So a challenge is maintaining your integrity when you’re trusted. A part of that is being as transparent as possible. Because readers often fact-check me.

This personal piece by Mona Chalabi shows that 1,995 children were separated from their parents in the spring of 2018. 

This personal piece by Chalabi uses data from the Department of Homeland Security, 2018. Image courtesy of Mona Chalabi.

What’s another challenge?

Money. Journalism doesn’t pay particularly well. The world needs good journalism more than ever before. However, by and large most people are still unwilling to pay for journalism. Until they are, we’re always going to be underfunded and scrambling to survive.

It feels like there’s a lot of momentum in your career right now.

Which is really bad. It’s wonderful. But this momentum is just carrying me along, and I want the opportunity to step back and say, “But what do I want to do?” instead of just responding to things. Part of the problem is I’m still so excited by different mediums. I want to be able to write fiction and nonfiction essays. I want to produce films. But I want to concentrate, too. Now is the time to focus on which direction to go.

feibisi / 2018年11月28日

What Creatives Need to Know About Working with a Recruiter

On average, you will probably have 20 jobs and at least three career changes in your professional life.

Allison Hemming, the founder and president of The Hired Guns talent agency encourages us to get better at managing our careers rather than seeking job hunting hacks and tips. And when we look at our careers that way, we might realize how much time and energy we spend exploring open positions, sending in resumes alongside hundreds of other resumes, and making cold intros that aren’t met with a reply. Looking for a new job can be a soul-crushing, inefficient, process. That’s where Hemming comes in—she is a recruiter whose team specializes in content, marketing, design, and user experience jobs from the C-Suite to entry level. Her skill is matching talent (you!) with the right job.

Recruiters help companies staff their teams. They often act as a talent partner—you have the skills, the companies have the need, and recruiters have relationships between the parties. And they can also serve as an ally because, as you rise in your career, you’re competing with better people for fewer jobs—why wouldn’t you want someone on your side during that process?

Hemming began her career at Morgan Stanley and has led The Hired Guns since 2000. She has helped place thousands of creators in jobs, and she give us the inside scoop on what it’s like to work with a recruiter.

Recruiters can provide keen insight into the current job market.

Today, the unemployment rate is very low, but there’s still a high level of frustration in hiring, explains Hemming. “Companies, like talent, are moving jobs constantly right now. And yet, companies have tons of open roles that are going unfilled,” says Hemming. What gives? “Companies don’t want to pay to uplevel. They want a fully-baked hire. But I think if they learn how to interview for risk and aptitude, they could fill the gap with smart people who know how to learn.”

The hiring company pays the recruiter fee.

Chalk that up to the longstanding model, as well as the fact that filling a role is an expensive proposition for a company. And Hemming isn’t just filling a role—she offers a service. “We get into organizations and help them look at their current state, and talk to them about their ambitions for the business and how to build a talent roadmap to get there.”

You can cold call a recruiter, even if you don’t see an immediate job listing.

Here’s how Hemming recommends you begin the conversation.

“Hi, I’m Jim. I’ve been working on the product side of digital media. I’d like to move into this other role and here is why I’d be a good fit for that. I don’t see that on your site, but I have seen other jobs that you have had.”

The Hired Guns leaves all its filled jobs up on its website for that very reason—so future talent can cite them as examples of what they’re looking for.

Connect with the experts in your field.

Every field has recruiters who focus on certain skill niches. “Their job is to corner the marketplace on a particular kind of talent and own it, and you’re never going to talk to certain companies unless you go through them,” says Hemming. “It would behoove you to know the recruiting specialists in your field.”

Don’t limit yourself to a single recruiter.

“In general, you should have two to three recruiting partners that you like and trust. It’s a relationship—the long game, not the short game. They may not have the right thing for you today. If they don’t, be helpful. And if you know the perfect person for the job, and it’s not you, recommend that person.” The recruiter will likely remember the kindness and repay it down the road.

It’s a confidential process.

The Hired Guns even conducts certain first-round interviews in its office so a candidate who might be interviewing with a competitor won’t be spotted in that office.

A recruiter can uncover key job details that aren’t advertised in the job posting.

One of the disciplines that was the hardest to get right was visual design and user experience design. Why? Portfolios. Everybody wants to see work. Problem is what company A thinks is beautiful, company B thinks is hideous.”

The Hired Guns has developed a technique with their clients where they walk them through a portfolio review to get at the dynamics of what is beautiful to them. “Then the matchmaking can begin,” says Hemming, who notes they always do this with the future boss. “If the boss of that person does not want to have the patience to teach us what beautiful looks like to them, we know we’re never going to make that placement because they will never be 100 percent satisfied.”

Don’t look for the job, look for the company.

If someone reaches out to Hemming without a clear job in mind, here’s what she’ll tell them: “List out 10 companies that you believe you can make a major impact at that need you more than you need them.” And the response is typically: Why would I want to go work at those companies? “Because you’re going to learn how to invent your own job description,” says Hemming. “They need you more than you need them, and you’re going to learn how to pitch through that lens.”

A recruiter can help iron out discrepancies between the skills, job level, and compensation.

Ever seen those misaligned job descriptions where a company wants a senior director with three years of experience? That is not going to end well. But a recruiter can advocate on the behalf of a future employee to make sure that the job role and experience matches the compensation, so you, the future employee, don’t have to have that awkward conversation.

Recruiters can speed up the interview process.

The Hired Guns has noticed an alarming trend—phenomenal candidates of theirs were not getting placed at clients because the company hiring processes were too slow. “It was interviewing by a thousand cuts for the candidate, meaning you go in 10 times and you have the same interview 10 times, but with 10 different people,” says Hemming. “That is terrible for the company.” Now The Hired Guns runs speed dates for its clients and talent and encourages its corporate clients to have entire teams sit in together earlier in the interview rounds.

There will be homework.

If you’re looking for a new job, Hemming has you put together a competitive set list of anyone you can find who has the same role that you want. This will help you see what skills they have, and if there are gaps between those and your own skill set. When Hemming did this recently with a content creator in the food space who aspired to be an Editor-in-Chief, she noticed something telling. “This person wasn’t an Editor-in-Chief or the Executive Editor through an editorial lens. But they are a damn good brand and content marketer,” says Hemming. “And I’m like, “You’re looking at the right companies but at the wrong job.” Once they course corrected, this person found the more appropriate, and better-fitting, job.

Lastly, a recruiter is not a miracle worker.

Sometimes people come to me and they want me to be the elixir,” says Hemming. “Like I’m going to be the genie in the bottle that’s going to help you land that perfect job – and that doesn’t exist. I want to give people the tools and the power to empower themselves to have a future of assembling the right jobs.”

feibisi / 2018年11月23日

What You Need to Know About Designing for the Public Sector  

For many creative types, getting involved in the public sector is a bit of an alluring mystery. The idea of working with a government-owned organization or initiative allows people to be part of a bigger cause, a stronger mission, and the possibility to impact thousands of people – often rarities in the private world, where projects are for business clients and only impact the people who interact with the company.  

Interior wayfinding at the Washington State Convention Center points guests in the right direction.

Interior wayfinding at the Washington State Convention Center points guests in the right direction.

But while the public sector can provide a sense of virtuousness, it comes with some unique challenges and processes to navigate.

Michael Courtney should know. As the founder of Michael Courtney Design, a Seattle-based graphic design firm specializing in wayfinding, he has spent 26 years working in the public sector arena, with half of his clients in that space. His projects include working with the Washington State Convention CenterSeattle City Light, the area’s publicly-owned electric power utility, along with wayfinding projects for Kansas State University and the University of Washington.

We caught up with Courtney to learn more about partnering with the public sector.

A giant "W" welcomes visitors to the University of Washington campus.

A giant “W” welcomes visitors to the University of Washington campus.

Find the perfect project for your skillset.

“I’d recommend design firms reach out to their state and local municipalities and see if there is a government or municipal service that gathers and distributes information about opportunities for design services. And then get on that service’s email to be able to search for opportunities,” says Courtney.

Besides finding an email list, Courtney recommends looking for other designers who might bring you onto their project teams. Architects and landscape architects do a lot of public projects, so connecting with them is a great place to start,” he says.

Land the project.

Unlike the private sector, where a lot of clients are based on relationships, the public-sector process is more stringent and follows an application process. “You need to go through the steps in the order they specify,” says Courtney. This could mean filling out one page, or 50, depending on the project. “They will ask the same questions by the same committee members in the same order every single time, so they hope they are getting an apples-to-apples answer. They don’t want someone coming back and saying, ‘I wasn’t included.’”

If you meet the criteria, you get an invitation to interview and only then do you get to do a proposal. “Sometimes, it is a really long journey to find out if you did or did not get that project, which is part of why some people don’t do public sector projects,” says Courtney.

Explain your process, as well as your intended result.

Once you land the project, you need build trust with the various stakeholders. And there are many from different organizations.

“Most clients and these community groups don’t do projects like we do all the time,” he says. “We have to help them understand what we can do, how we can help them, and what it is going to look like, not only the end product but also what the process is going to look like, so they get comfortable.”

Michael Courtney prepares to display the type for the donor recognition wall at The Berney Family Welcome Center at Kansas State University.

Michael Courtney prepares to display the type for the donor recognition wall at the Berney Family Welcome Center at Kansas State University. 

Build that bond through transparency.

For Courtney and team, they do a few exercises to help develop a cohesive vision.

“We do a visioning session where we have key phrases that we want clients to respond to, like, What do you want people to feel when they use the project? What do you want people to think when they leave this project? This provides a lot of input.

“And then we bring in images of other environmental graphics projects we have put out. We talk about them. Why did you like this? Why didn’t you like this? It allows us to talk about concepts like scale, colors, materials, and comprehension nature of a program, And it lets them have their say.

“It also helps our team. When they start designing, they have a clearer path, a roadmap to go by. When we bring back those concepts, we remind them of what we have gone through and how we are going to do that.”

The final donor recognition wall display in the Berney Family Welcome Center at Kansas State University.

The final donor recognition wall display in the Berney Family Welcome Center.

Play the waiting game.

“Most designers in school are trained to work quickly and efficiently and when they get out of school, that is reinforced even more. With the public sector, it’s not the same.”

Decisions needing to be made by various stakeholders can make the process stretch out, says Courtney. Sometimes it can be months before starting back up on projects.

“[During the break], you have to be willing to not change your ideas. They have approved things and even though you might have come up with something that was even more distinctive in the three months, don’t do it. Stay the course.”

Imagine the community as your client.

For those looking to work in the public sector, it often comes down to telling a bigger story around the community, says Courtney. “If we do a fabulous project in an office building [for a private sector client], then only the people who get to see it are the people using that building. But with public projects, we have thousands of people who get to see these projects. And it lasts. A lot of our work has been up for literally 20 years.”

feibisi / 2018年11月21日

The Cabin in the Australian Forest That Provides a Creative Jolt

Nestled in the lower glens of Australia’s Dandenong Range is a cabin adorned with stained glass, sculptures, and paintings that evokes “Hansel and Gretel.” A stream circles the back property, filling the gardens with the sound of water over rocks. A stroll up to the cabin’s lapis blue door takes you past strawberries, fig trees, rhododendrons, and the basil-like leaves of lemon verbena. If all those names are hard to remember, never fear: Anyone who stays at Jacky Winter Gardens receives a hand-drawn map by artist James Gulliver Hancock, detailing every tree and flower on the property.

The walkway to the Jacky Winter Gardens houses cuts through the forest.

The Jacky Winter Gardens house is the ideal countryside escape for creating something new.

The space is the brainchild of New York transplant Jeremy Wortsman. Wortsman moved to the Dandenongs six years ago, part of a long tradition of artists and creatives escaping Melbourne for the countryside. The prehistoric trees and the promise of fresh air have beckoned artists to the Dandenongs for centuries. Jacky Winter Gardens can be reached by hopping on the train in Melbourne and riding the rails to the end of the line, where the city morphs into a mountainous forest preserve of hills, waterfalls, and Jurassic Park–style ferns.

The Jacky Winter Gardens house is full of designs from creators all over the world.

The Jacky Winter Gardens house is full of designs from creators all over the world.

After first planning the house as a business venture, Wortsman realized it was financially possible to rent it out a few weeks each month and offer it to creatives for free the rest of the time. The creative residency he developed now accepts hundreds of applications a year to fill nine slots – a select group of artists who arrive at Jacky Winter Gardens to finish a work-in-progress. “The people who do it genuinely get amazing things out of it,” says Wortsman. “Plus, we love meeting new people: illustrators, artists, glassblowers, playwrights, board game designers, industrial designers. Every profession comes through.”

Each room is full of thoughtful touches, including a beanbag for lounging.

Each room is full of thoughtful touches.

Artists come for up to a week to sit by the stream, muse in front of the wood-burning stove, and peck away at the typewriter. If the contemplation and solitude become too much, they can walk to the local town for a flat white – a creamy Australian coffee specialty – or hike into the rain forest for a round of “forest bathing,” a Japanese-inspired trend of reconnecting with nature. When they come home to the Jacky Winter Gardens cabin, they might find the local wallaby – a kangaroo-like creature that New York–born Wortsman still finds bizarre – waiting outside.

Wortsman’s hope is that the time away gives creatives what they need to get unstuck and cross the finish line on their projects. And it works. “I’d never been so productive – and probably never will be again,” said author Jess Hill of her visit to the cabin. “To stay there feels like stepping into an alternate dimension where creativity is the most important part of life,” added former Disney animator Tania Walker.

A cool stream runs through the property.

A cool stream runs through the property.

This isn’t the only capacity in which Wortsman manages artists’ creative time. He’s also the founder of an agency and production company, also called Jacky Winters. Some of the artists he manages were the very first residents. Wortsman hopes that artists embrace the freedom the space offers and give themselves permission to step outside their normal patterns and blocks. A parent himself, one of his personal goals is to encourage new parents to do the residency for the creative breather often denied to new mothers and fathers. Ultimately, on top of the beauty of the physical space, what Jacky Winter Gardens really offers is creative time. “Getting an hour, much less a week, is really precious,” Wortsman says.