20Q: Jen Bilik

She awed the audience at Design Indaba Conference. Find out what makes Jen Bilik laugh, who she'd like to lunch with and more.
Posted 19 Apr 11 By Design Indaba Creative Economy Interviews / Q&A Comments

1. What makes you laugh out loud?

My dogs, especially the four and a half year-old Golden Retriever, Paco, who's clumsy, goofy, and somehow regal all at the same time.

2. If you had to live inside a work of art, which would it be and why?

An Agnes Martin painting. So peaceful.

3. What is the best piece of design you've seen recently?

I've recently started getting the daily curated email from Etsy and I've been blown away by what people are making. Fabulous stuff.

4. What is your favourite book?

How could anybody name just one? But one of the most influential as a designer is Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, by Tibor Kalman and Michael Bierut.

5. To which faults do you feel the most indulgent?


6. What is the question you ask yourself the most?

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

7. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?


8. What would you save from your burning house?

My dogs.

9. How do you deal with failure?

Keep going. Figure it out, come back the next day, figure out the way to fix it, find your way around it, through it, over it. Get punched in the stomach and show up the next day. As an entrepreneur and leader, you have no choice. You're the only one who can't quit.

10. Do you have a creative muse?

Not really - but indirectly, popular culture and humour.

11. What's your favourite gadget?

My iPhone.

12. Who in the world, dead or alive, would you most like to have lunch with?

My mother (dead). I miss her terribly - it's been almost 20 years now.

13. Which qualities do you most admire in others?

Openness, generosity, lack of snobbery, lack of envy and resentment.

14. What's one thing that you haven't done that you would still really like to do?

Have a child and conquer my peskiest demons.

15. How do you know when a piece of design is complete?

It just clicks with an internal "kerchunk."

16. Can creativity save the world?

Yes, but not visual creativity, I don't think. Intellectual creativity, more so.

17. What do you do on Sundays?

Wake up lazily, drink coffee, walk the dogs, and then often work. I prefer to take Saturdays off after a long week, then catch up on work on Sundays. And I like having early dinners with friends on Sundays, and end by catching up on trashy TV.

18. Summer or winter?

I like the coolness of winter (I live in LA), and the light of summer.

19. What's the best creative advice you've ever received?

Paraphrase: Live your life like a creative studio, where everything you do or touch is a creative act. Todd Oldham, characterising Ray and Charles Eames.

20. How do you feel about answering random questions like these?

Fun! Bring 'em on!

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