Geetanjali Mukherjee

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lessons On Creativity From Top Graphic Designers

Some time back I picked up this intriguing book from the library - How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman. I don’t know why it appealed to me, but it did. I was thinking a lot at the time about design, and thought it might be worth a read. It was that and more. I found many of the interviews, with famous graphic designers (I hadn't heard of any of them, but then I didn't even know what graphic design was till a year ago!) talking about their craft and their process and their views on creativity, fascinating and full of lessons that apply far more widely than just to students of design.

Some quotes from the interviews that really appealed to me:

How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer
Michael Beirut
 "I think really brilliant people do a number of different things when they are working. They're able to force themselves to put a lot of time into things and give them a lot of attention, and not succumb to the shortcuts that regular practice can lead to".
"I actually think that I've compensated for whatever flaws and shortcomings I have as a creative person by being smart and well-read and by working really, really hard. And by getting more at-bats. I seem to hit a lot of home runs because I have ten times as many at-bats as everyone else in the league. Meanwhile, the stands are littered with foul balls and strikeouts. And no one knows about them because I don't count those."

Carin Goldberg
"I was lucky. Lucky to be there, while it was all happening. But after the luck, there was all the hard work...I made sure I was observing and watching and looking over the shoulders of the right people and learning from them and killing myself to learn everything I could. So my career has been about luck and hard work".

Milton Glaser
"My adventure has all been in my mind. The great adventure has been thinking. I love to think about things. I think that the lack of drama in my life has produced a platform for me to be fundamentally adventurous in my thinking". 

Stefan Sagmeister 
" occurred to me that it might be smarter if I stuck with the language I already knew and tried to really say something with it."

James Victore
"At the beginning of a project, I ask, 'What are we going to do, and how are we going to do it? How are we going to make a person fall in love?"
"It's about whittling. It's about taking something and whittling and whittling and getting it sharp and perfect. Then you've got something."

Paula Scher 
"I consider the fact that I have been able to continue to grow a very important part of how I perceive success. To me, success is not about money, it's about what I design. If I get up every day with the optimism that I have the capacity for growth, then that's success for me". 
"...its dangerous to have any kind of satisfaction. You always have to be striving to improve on the next project. The next project has to be what you're aspiring for, not what you've just completed - you've already done that". 
"You can't do the same thing for five years. You have to get rid of it. It doesn't matter anymore. Just let it go, even if it's your signature. Even if everybody expects you to do it. Try to find another way to walk."

"If you think you're only as good as your last job - which I do - there's more to be done...I believe that we all want to leave something behind that is really, truly terrific. And we have this finite amount of time to accomplish it. Everything else is unimportant."

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