All ‘Article’ Posts

On Building Something Worthwhile with All Your Talent

When I go to the supermarket I sometimes think of how much infrastructure and ingenuity has gone into converting the problem of finding my own food in the wild to the problem of walking around a room with a basket. So much intelligence and sweat has gone into getting this stuff into my hands. It’s […]

On Turning Down Jobs in The Valley

I have a confession to make: I don’t live in the Valley. That means I’m writing a cultural critique from a distance and that’s a dangerous thing to do. My vision of the Valley comes from Hacker News, the tech scene in general (of which I am a part), and the products that emerge from […]

On the Inability of Most People to See What a Genius You Are

You’re a designer, or developer, or entrepreneur. You make stuff. You create. You make it happen on the daily. Etc. You’re getting pretty good at it, too. So good that sometimes you produce amazing, potentially world-shaking solutions. Clever, original, inventive stuff. The stuff you’re proud of. Ingenious answers to difficult questions. Stuff that wasn’t there, […]

You Don’t Need to Do Everything, Just Do Something

We have a lot of art. Art from friends. Art from strangers. Art we made when we were kids. Art we made last week. Objects we’ve lugged from one city to another. Things we love and want to display as art. You get the drift. The problem with our art hoarding is that actually framing […]

On the Virtue of Sticking Around

Do you like to be praised for what you do? Sure, we all do. But if your goal is persistent praise, I fear staying in the same place for very long will be antithetical to that goal. A fairly exceptional dude with a unique skill set once said, “A prophet is not without honor, except […]

On Selling, Pitching & Ensuring Good Work Sees the Light of Day

Part of my job as a professional designer is doing good work. Excellent, appropriate, on budget, in time design and web solutions for clients who are trying to accomplish something in the marketplace or non-profit space. Clients who, with great aspiration, are trading their dollars for my knowledge and skill, hopefully to the betterment of […]

On Dreams & Hiring

There’s lots to like about this article from Brooke Allen on hiring, but this gem stands out: I won’t get between you and your dreams. If you have a dream, I need to know what it is so we can figure out if this job gets you closer. —How to Hire Good People Instead of […]

On Why

Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you want to accomplish? What is the win? Why are you moving forward if you can’t answer those questions? There’s nothing more inefficient than doing something more efficiently that shouldn’t be done at all.—Michael Mullikin You are limited. Time. Skill. Attention. Momentum. Money. All limited. But […]

On the Moral Imperative to Design Things True

Peter Mendelsund is the Associate Art Director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, Art Director of Pantheon Books, and the designer of some of the my favorite book covers of the last few years like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. Anyone who puts out that variety of excellent, […]

On Systems, Spirit, Process & Perfection

“Nature abhors a paradox,” they say. I abhor a bad system. Or worse, a lack of system. But as a designer who frequently (or at least hopefully) veers into the artful, I’m working in the midst of a paradox. My desires and my roles produce—and sustain—inconsistencies. Artists and systems go to war with one another. […]

On Failure, Forces & The Gentle Way

I found two work-related goals scribbled in the page margins of a pocket notebook from the beginning of 2012. 1) I wanted to primarily focus my design time on getting the hazy-around-edges NewSpring identity system under control (via a thorough brand audit and re-templating project) and 2) I wanted to hire a few designers and […]

On Ensuring Your Ideas Are Never Criticized

In the words of Gandalf The Grey, “Keep it secret. Keep it safe.” Don’t show them. Don’t ship them. Any other strategy will fail.

On Vision, Need & Longing for the Sea

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the NewSpring leadership during my tenure it’s this: People Respond to Vision, Not Need. Dispensing information is a tactic that can help you build a strategy to accomplish a goal. But simply dispensing information will not lead to accomplished goals. The world clamors for our attention. Your audience already […]

Oliver Jeffers on Storytelling & Process

Oliver Jeffers is one of my storytelling heroes…

On Vision Questing

A vision quest* is a Native American rite of passage, an ancient means to find spiritual guidance and purpose in the seclusion of the wilderness. The Lakota Sioux called it “Crying for a Dream,” which, while maybe melodramatic, gets straight to the point. They climbed up the mountain, hunting for revelation, and didn’t come down […]

On The Illusion of Control

As nearly as I can tell, the only things I can control are: How well (and much) I rest. How well I steward things. The things I say “yes” to. The things I say “no” to. How hard I’m willing to work.

On Venturing Into the Fray (Whereby “Fray” I actually mean “New Entrepreneurial Endeavor”)

’Tis the season to shut up and ship. —10/21/12 Last week Mandy and I got the keys to 1243 Pendleton Street, a ~1600sqft commercial building in the Greenville Arts District where we’ll be partnering with our friend Bill to make, manufacture, craft, and collect Bill’s jeans and our homegoods in a sort of hybrid retail […]

On Discipline, Shortcuts & Building Something Worthwhile Over Time

I am seeking a sort of relentless commitment to the task at hand. I’m aiming for discipline. Discipline is remembering what you want. —David Campbell In the past few months I’ve intentionally scuttled many of my own side projects and shunned outside opportunities in an effort to—quite simply—do what I say I’m going to do, […]

On Core Values for Wayfinding Systems

At its most simple, a wayfinding system helps guests find their way in your environment and makes the information they need accessible. That system might include signage, icons, text, environmental art, and architectural cues (like the dominance of entrances or a clear deliniation of public and private spaces). The system helps direct, identify, inform, and […]

On Web Content Strategy

This was originally part of an internal email string between teams at work, but I thought it would be relevant for others here. Content doesn’t just get created in a vacuum. For it to be useful and a helper/catalyst for change, it needs underlying vision, structure and strategy. In other words, we need to be […]

On the Way TripIt, Zynga & Maybe You are Blowing It with My Data

I’m easily frustrated by apps, sites, and services that have thousands of hours of my behavior history, but don’t serve me well with it. Why Won’t You TripThis? I’ve recently started using TripIt to help manage my travel. Last night I booked flights to New York for October’s Brooklyn Beta conference, and so TripIt gets […]