Advice for young designers (part two)

More wise words for aspiring creatives from some of the most globally acclaimed design professionals.

Last week, when we interviewed the speakers at the Design Indaba Conference 2015, we asked them to give us some of their very best advice for young creatives. We’ve already released Part One of that advice. Here’s a little more:

Casey Neistat, maverick filmmaker and YouTube phenomenon from New York:

Work. Do the work. Something that I see so often today, especially with young people, is they expect things to just happen. They have a great idea, but their parents bought them a GoPro camera. The work is all that matters, and the work is the hardest, least glamorous, least fun aspect of this entire thing. The work is the hardest part, the work is the last thing you want to do. But the work is all that matters. So always do the work. That’s why I shun things like “inspiration”, because inspiration will get you exactly nowhere. Doing the work will get you everywhere. If you have your inspiration and you have your realisation, then the only thing that stands between these two things is the work. So if that is where you put all your focus it will always take you to where you want to go.

Dominic Wilcox, British designer:

Try as many creative disciplines as possible, experiment, take risks, don’t be scared of failure – there is no such thing. You learn from mistakes; if you do everything perfectly you don’t actually learn much! Be ambitious, learn skills; if you learn skills you can find ideas once you’ve learnt those skills and they are really useful in future.

Emily Oberman, Pentagram partner and branding specialist:

The best advice I was ever given was from this teacher when I was in school, who looked at me one day when I was running around all worried and he said, “Oberman, you’re a panicker! You need to harness your panic! If you can harness your panic you’ll go far.”

And I panicked about that for a little bit and since then I’ve tried to harness my panic.

But for students, I would say my best advice is to work hard, pay attention, don’t leave at 6. Stay! Work that extra time, think about that extra idea. If someone gives you a problem to solve, solve it better than anyone expects you to do it. Offer to do something extra, whether it’s in school or in an internship. Pentagram is a meritocracy, so if you are an intern or a student, you get back what you give. So the more energy you give the more responsibility you get back.

Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man:

We want to change the 21st century, because if we don’t try to change it it’s not going to be pretty. You can have all the entrepreneurship in the world but it’s not going to be pretty. We’re going to run out of stuff. The consumer model of economics is not working out for us and in two decades we’re going to see a world that is ready for change, and it is either going to be traumatic or it is going to be transformative. I don’t think entrepreneurship is necessarily going to make it a better place – I think community will. The best thing is to tolerate people and love everybody the best you can and imagine that they are as real as you, whoever they are. They are as real as you, and that daily you can open your heart to, and we forget it half the time. I do too.

Naeem Biviji of Studio Propolis:

You can’t work in isolation and you have to work out a way to engage with other people, and you have to take what you have and what’s available and work with it, and it should be done locally.

Just get on with it – don’t wait for someone else to manufacture your stuff – get on with it, try it, try and make it yourself. Who knows? You’ll fall down, but that’s how we started. We just got making.

Robbie Brozin, co-founder of Nando’s:

Young entrepreneur, be bold. Go with your heart. That’s the critical part. When people put effort into something and really enjoy what they are doing, it’s amazing how it doesn’t feel like work. And when you put that effort in and you’re good at it (and, generally speaking, if you are good at something, you’re passionate about it. I always equate passion to being good because it’s amazing what people can achieve if they are truly passionate about something), my sense is that young designers must put their heart and soul into it. Creativity isn’t just designing something magnificent; it is also building it and delivering it on time.

You’ve got to have fun and at the same time be commercial. It’s critical. The journey is part of the reward. Focus, enjoy what you are doing or get out of it. Just do shit.

Stanley Hainsworth, founder of creative agency Tether, and previous creative director of Nike, Lego and Starbucks:

This is a bit trite, but my number one advice for people up and coming in industry is be nice to everyone. And the reason I say that is because when you work with people as a student, and as an intern and as a young designer, you’re going to work with some amazing people and you know what, they are going to remember you. They are going to remember you if you are talented – great. But if you are nice, if you are fun to work with, if you are kind to everyone, they are going to remember that just as much.

Stefano Gionvannoni, Italian product designer and creator of the most replicated product in the world, the Bomba stool:

Frankly speaking, I think the way of working between designer and company is finished. I am not interested anymore to work for company and I hope young designers will move in another direction. I think in the future, young designers have to think their activity in more like entrepreneur, or more like fashion designer. So their work will be mainly to create an identity and a brand. In any case, it doesn’t matter if you want to create industrial product, or unique pieces – you have to create to take care of your brand. Our generation worked with many different brands and I think this attitude maybe will go to the end in the near future. 

Watch the Talk with Casey Neistat

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