01 – Design For Difference

We live in an age where design seems to be mostly utilized for cheap advertising and manipulation. Be the the difference. Change the world with design and laugh off the doubters with smaller visions.


02 – Be Efficient

Being a good designer means that you understand that things are always going to be changing. You want to solve the problem at hand and be as efficient as you can be, but there really is no sense of perfect. You can tidy things up as they near the end, but vetting out the problem, and getting there quickly, should be your main focus as you work.


03 – Strong Opinions, Loose Grip

To be an effective designer, you must be passionate over many facets of the process. Aesthetic, intention, a sense of story, and truthful emotion. Be willing to stand for what you think is right…but don’t beat it into people’s heads. Be willing to look from an alternative vantage point. You might actually like it better.


04 – Network Like Hell

This can’t be said enough. If you want people to know who you are, to recognize your style and overall work ethic, you have to be the one to push through the crowds and introduce yourself. Just do so in genuine fashion, because most of us are awkward at this.


05 – Talk Less. Make More

If you’re the guy or gal always talking about doing sweet side projects, do yourself a favor and just get on it. Letting your work speak for itself rather than coddling intentions does far more justice.


06 – Apathy Kills Creativity

We all know that styles and trends come and go quickly. If you sit on your butt for any amount of time, you might find your chops rusty, or voice a bit aged. Keep up with trends. Take them for what they are, but more importantly, understand how to design solutions that age well.


07 – Stand Up For Your Values, and Don’t Effing Budge

Some people talk about the idea of giving up a high-paying gig because it crosses a personal moral line. Then they cave, take the money, and shrug it off or pretend like it doesn’t bother them. If you can’t be true to yourself as a designer (or person), don’t take money to be “true” to your client’s convictions. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. As a designer, this is the quickest path to ineffective selfishness and irrelevancy.


08 – Culture is Watching

Understand that what you place into the eyes of others around you says exactly who you are, and what you’re proud to represent. Are you going to impact this world in a good, or commonly negative way. It takes a lot more of a brain to create positive influence.


09 – Design For What Matters

Understand that we have real problems. We need people to come up with
real solutions. Sex slavery, homelessness, hunger, and education are just a few genres that have massive problems needing an answer. Why can’t the answer lie with you and your creativity? We all have day jobs that might focus on selling a product, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look for opportunities with our time outside of work.


10 – Avoid Feedback At Your Own Peril

Only fools do this. You never “arrive”. You simply make less mistakes along the way. Hopefully.


11 – Brainstorm Carefully

Be careful of what you take away from the whiteboard. Did somebody side-track the whole room, and then iterate on the wrong thing? It happens all too often. You have to know when to call BS on others, as well as yourself.


12 – Know When To Work For Free

Those who think they have to charge for everything have most likely not had the pleasure of working with some of their favorite passion brands. You’d be surprised how much paid work you can bring in from a client you initially offered services to for free. At the same time, never undersell yourself. Working for free because you want to help is very different than accepting pay that under-values your time.


13 – Meetings Are Expensive

Don’t have an hour meeting where 15 minutes will suffice. Get to the point. 10 people in an hour long meeting is not one hour spent, but 10 business hours off the clock.


14 – Always Be Honest

Most of the time people can tell when someone is a liar, or tends to “leave information out”. Don’t be this guy. It’s probably the fastest way to get fired.


15 – The Easy Way Is The Selfish Way

Cutting corners is just plain un-intelligent. You will be found out, and it won’t be pretty. I promise.


16 – Design Is A Response

Design is a vocation; a calling. We should be solving problems bigger than ourselves. Design takes that problem, and churns creative output into a solution that people love to use or understand.


17 – Drive Positive Influence

Enough with the sex appeal, manipulation, and boring non-sense that only creates buyer’s remorse at the end of the day. Our children need more, and we owe it to ourselves to understand that. Take a stand.


18 – Innovate, Not Imitate

It’s easy to imitate, and hey, we’re even told to do that in design school.
But please understand that to get to something new, you’re going to have to think differently than your competition. You’re going to have to make them jealous. However, don’t be afraid of other people’s copying your work.
Be afraid of when and why they stop!


19 – Bend Until It Breaks

Push the envelope. Be different. Be Brave. Always be curious. Explore design options until you break them, and then pull it back. Find that balance.


20 – Advocate For The User… Always

Design isn’t about you. Unless you’ve been hired for your style, your sole focus should be making the product sing from every angle, with the perspective of your client’s brand in mind. At the same time, the client isn’t always the one to please. Know that making a case for the product’s audience is the most important aspect of what you’re offering to your client.


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