Ask the Experts: What is the number one piece of advice you have heard about being a designer?

3 years ago by

Written by Hollie Arnett
Supported by 
Creative New Zealand

There are so many talented creatives with years of combined experience and a variety of skills in the design industry. Since there are no right or wrong answers and no one true source when it comes to design advice, Hollie Arnett brings you Ask the Experts – a series of articles bringing you a range of answers to your burning questions about design from a whole bunch of these designers!

First up, we’re asking, what is the number one piece of advice you have heard about being a designer?

Philip Fierlinger

My advice: Have fun. If you’re not having fun, it ruins your work and your life. So find a way to make whatever you’re doing fun.

Sarah Ritchie

Most designers (graphic, product, spatial, industrial, etc.) are designing to meet a commercial brief (e.g. you are not just designing for your own enjoyment). You may be required to compromise your design aesthetic to keep a job profitable, practical, or to keep your client happy. Best piece of advice? Learn to hold your work VERY lightly and be willing to bend when (not if) the time comes.

Janelle Rodrigues

Define the problem, design the solution. Tell a good story, find the art. Enjoy your creative life.

Nicole Arnett Phillips

My grandfather taught me experimentation is the anticipation of innovation, I have carried this advice throughout my career. I believe that because our clients are paying for the outcome we tend to focus too much on the later stages of the design process and overlook the experimentation, creative play and questioning in the beginning phases that not only gives our work rigour but also has the potential to make the work truly unique, exciting and visionary!

Dan Newman

“It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.” — Paula Scher

Joe Garlick

It’s not just what you know, but also who you know as well.

Jade Tang-Taylor

“The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize, and glean insights that enable him or her to ‘make the invisible visible.’ –Hillman Curtis

“The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.” –Daniel Pink

“Work hard, stay humble” – Anon

And this:

Johnson McKay

Diverge before you converge

Katie Kerr

I have a line by Stuart Bailey written on the wall of my studio, which says, “The relentless attempt to understand is what keeps any practice moving forward”. For me, this means placing emphasis on continual research – reading, writing, experimentation, discussion, critique, etc – to avoid the stagnation that can arise in commercial practice.

Phyo Thu

Follow your dreams, work hard, practice and persevere.


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