Grace Bonney: What I Learned in My 15 Years of Running Design*Sponge

Grace Bonney: What I Learned in My 15 Years of Running Design*Sponge

When Grace Bonney started Design*Sponge in 2004, her expectations were low. In the beginning the design blog was a side project she did in addition to her real job, first at a design PR firm and later as a freelance writer for House and Garden, Domino, and Craft, among other publications. “I thought that maybe in a few years I could use it as a digital portfolio to one day apply for a job at a magazine,” she says.

As Design*Sponge developed a loyal following and interest from advertisers, “the blog kind of became the magazine job that I wanted,” she says. By 2009, the site was generating enough money for her to focus on it full-time. Since then Design*Sponge has continued to grow — it now reaches roughly 2 million readers a month — and its focus has evolved to reflect Bonney’s own shifting interests, moving away from products to center on people, and, in the past few years, address topics such as how gender, classism, and racism, social issues, and diversity connect to and influence design.

But as Design*Sponge changed, so has the ad industry. The rise of social media and proliferation of design sites has tipped the scale back in the advertisers’ favor, enabling them to demand more for less. Over the past few years, it became clear to Bonney that the blog could not continue to support itself through ad revenue unless she overhauled the content strategy. Instead of chasing clicks, Bonney decided that she would end the blog on her own terms; in early January, she announced that this year, Design*Sponge’s 15th, would be its last. “For me, this will always be a place to simply connect with, learn from, and listen to friends, new and old, who happen to love design and creative pursuits in the same way we do,” she wrote in a heartfelt post explaining the decision.

The cover of Good Company magazine.

Bonney recently launched Good Company, a print magazine for women and nonbinary creatives.

Bonney is working on a book about intergenerational friendships between women and she recently launched Good Company, a print magazine for women and nonbinary creatives. That said, she doesn’t know what her day-to-day will look like this time next year. “I think everyone expects there is this hidden project, but no,” she says, laughing.

Whatever the next chapter might be, she’s ready for it. Among many other things, Design*Sponge taught her how to balance doing what you love with the realities of making a living. Here, she shares how she’s navigated the tension between art and money and offers advice to creatives on how to the walk that tightrope for themselves.

Q: Why do you think Design*Sponge resonated with people in the beginning?

A: Any early era blogger would be disingenuous for saying that we didn’t benefit from being early adopters. There was so little competition and no social media landscape. When you went on the internet and looked for furniture or interior design, there was only going to be a few of us that popped up. We grew in a way that is nearly impossible to do today, organically.

I was also talking about things that were affordable. I focused on young people, students, and people who were upcycling before that was a hot trend. A lot of other sites were catering to people who wanted to buy brand new things, or buy expensive things or fancy things. We were kind of the opposite of that. I think it was the right time and style for that particular moment.

“I absolutely made money from Design*Sponge, but it was never the thing I wanted to make money from. I always thought Design*Sponge would be the bridge between whatever I was interested in and a bigger, more stable project.”

Q: As the design media landscape grew more crowded, did your approach to promoting Design*Sponge in order to reach a new audience change?

A: In 15 years we’ve never sat down and said, “How does this apply to gaining a bigger audience?” I think I’m one of the few bloggers from that era that never approached this as a money-making venture. I absolutely made money from Design*Sponge, but it was never the thing I wanted to make money from. I always thought Design*Sponge would be the bridge between whatever I was interested in and a bigger, more stable project.

Q: In your blog post announcing that this year will be Design*Sponge’s last, you mentioned that you’ve “written and re-written a letter like this dozens of times.” Why did you decide it was time to move on to something new?

A: The ad market was great in the beginning. We could sit back and be slightly comfortable in the fact that advertisers would come to us. We were able to think about: what’s important to us?

Now advertisers demand more content and more blatant placement for less money. It’s become a really crappy game to play. It limits how much we can talk about things that are important to us. I heard from people when we started talking about Black Lives Matter; that wasn’t a popular opinion for a lot of advertisers. The change in the ad market is definitely a big part of what inspired us to say, “Hey, I think we’ve had a great run, let’s all go do something different now.”

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Starting next month I am hitting the road to work on a new book, and we have a third issue our magazine, Good Company, coming out. We are waiting to see how cumulative sales are for the first three issues to decide whether or not to put out a fourth issue.

“Don’t have any shame of judgement for how you get creative projects off the ground. If you are able to do them full time, awesome. But be honest about why you can.”

Q: When evaluating a new project’s potential, how do you weigh how excited you are about it versus its ability to pay your bills?

A: I’m not making so much money that I can take on any project that doesn’t pay, but I’m not making so little money that I can’t afford to take a little bit of a hit. I live in a two-income household. My wife and I both get paid. It’s important to be open about that. I don’t want someone to look at any of my projects and think, “Oh wow, all of this is so profitable, she can just jump from project to project.”

When I started Good Company, I talked to tons of independent magazines. No one was making money! But you wouldn’t know that from the media coverage they receive; I hear from people everyday who want to know how to start a magazine. The answer is: you have to have a ton of money or some sort of outside funding. It is widely expensive and most of us aren’t profitable. If you have family money, cool. If you have venture capital money, cool. But be honest about it so people understand the financial reality of projects like these.

Q: How do you feel about having a day job that pays your bills and doing your creative project as a side hustle versus going all in and trying to turn your passion into a full-time career?

A: There’s a strain of discussion in the creative entrepreneur world right now that it’s all or nothing. It’s like, “follow your bliss, do what you love, everything else is compromise.” I don’t think that’s true. I know a lot of people who have stable jobs with health insurance and a decent salary that allow them to do their creative work on the nights and weekends. There’s nothing less creative about that. If that gives you the creativity and security to take risks in your creative life, even better. I think my message is: don’t have any shame of judgement for how you get creative projects off the ground. If you are able to do them full time, awesome. But be honest about why you can. I think a lot of people see new businesses with shiny branding pop up overnight, and it seems like that’s a feasible thing to do. And it’s probably not. Those things cost lots of money.

Q: In your post announcing that this year will be Design*Sponge’s last, you mentioned that you’re at peace with how social media has changed the design landscape, but that wasn’t always the case. How do you maintain a healthy relationship with social media when it’s an integral part of your professional life?

A: As a user, it makes me sad to not see half the content from the people that I am following because of the hashtag, or what time it went out, or whatever. But there’s a lot of really good stuff happening there, too. It’s like anything: with all the really bad stuff there is really good stuff. You have to have the ability to put it in perspective. Social media is not the end all be all.

The most important thing for me was understanding what I’m getting out of it. That’s something I’ve had to figure out through conversations in therapy and at home with my wife and my friends: Why am I going there? If I go to Instagram to be inspired, I don’t have any guilt about how much time I spend. But if I am going on there to read things that will make me feel good about myself or connected to people, I need to understand why am I going there and not to real people in my real life.

Q: What do you hope is next for the design media?

A: I hope it’s more diverse. The voice of the young white design blogger — which is me! — we’ve had our moment. There’s been enough of us. It’s time for a lot of us to step to the side and give space to voices and stories that haven’t been heard yet.

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

 

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2HImJ2T

Freelancers: How to Negotiate Like a Pro

Freelancers: How to Negotiate Like a Pro

If you aren’t a freelancer yet, your time may be coming.

The signs are already there: research shows that more than a third of the U.S. workforce freelanced last year, an increase of 7% since 2014, while the non-freelance workforce grew just 2% over the same time. According to some estimates, freelancers and contractors could make up more than half the workforce within the next decade.

While much of that is good news for work-life balance and flexibility, it does put pressure on freelancers to become better advocate for themselves when it comes to pay. Indeed, many companies have eliminated full-time positions in favor of permalance contracts, engaging employees to work as full-time contractors often without benefits. As a result, there has never been a more critical time for freelancers to know their rights and their rates, and to take steps to prepare for these types of negotiations.

Here’s how to negotiate like a pro.

***

Educate yourself through salary resources and networking sites

Too many freelancers freeze up when it comes to discussions about money. Often reluctant to charge too much for fear of scaring away potential clients, they may be unaware of the critical value of their skills and experience to an organization, or what compensation is customary, and may not have realistically calculated what the project will eventually cost them to complete. Sadly, women in particularly are at even more of a handicap, with research showing that they tend to pitch lower rates than their male counterparts.

That’s why it’s so important to do your homework. Googling “what should I charge” will get you an overwhelming amount of (often useless) information, but tapping trade-specific platforms can help. For example, a helpful resource for artists in the nonprofit sector is the W.A.G.E. Guide (Working Artists in the Greater Economy), which establishes industry minimums for speaking gigs and exhibitions. Another is Study Hall, an online support network for media professionals, who last December put out a call on Twitter for rate transparency that went viral.

There are also more traditional career development outlets like Mediabistro, local organizations by state (in New York, the Council for the Arts), and the Freelancer’s Union, whose blog often posts useful tips for setting freelance rates. Networking sites like Alignable, Contently, and freelancer groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, also provide support. Ultimately, however, freelancers always need to be their own best advocates.

Calculate how much you personally need to make a job worthwhile

“Responsibility for negotiating rates is one of the many hidden costs of freelancing,” says Leanne*, a former magazine editor who currently works as a freelance writer and graphic designer. She explains that while clients may feel a rate is fair, they’re often oblivious to the “real costs” to a freelancer, which may include everything from tax issues to time expended on administrative tasks like invoicing and printing.

“It comes down to asking yourself, ‘How much do you want the job not to cost you?’”

What helped Leanne establish her rate was working backward from a year-end income goal and then dividing by 50 weeks–the number of business days in the year assuming two weeks of vacation–to research a weekly rate. She then divided further by day and even by hour, factoring in office rentals and health insurance.

“Those target numbers become my ‘break-even point,’ and I remind myself that accepting any work for less will require doubling up on hours,” she says.

She recommends all freelancers track their hours, drafts and revisions, and overall content output–everything from word count to pages–to get the best sense of their workflow. “Too much of the responsibility has fallen on the content creators, who are more vulnerable to begin with,” she explains. “This is why quantifying what goes into a project has been so helpful for me.”

Stephen Heller, co-chair of the design department at the School of Visual Arts says that while freelancers should be aiming to get the best deal possible, they should factor in other considerations, such as the potential for a job to lead to new opportunities. If the job is If it’s a terrific gig that may open doors, he encourages drafting a cost/loss estimate.

“It comes down to asking yourself, ‘How much do you want the job not to cost you?’” he says.

Don’t be first to put out a number, if you can avoid it

Jonathan*, 70, built his career managing corporate teams and providing cost-cutting solutions to companies in the financial sector. This frequently put him in a position to hire new contractors and employees. He advises that anyone going into a negotiation should try avoid sharing their salary expectation without first hearing what the client is willing to offer. “Never be the first to pull out a number, if possible,” he says. “This gives the other party the upper-hand.”

“You may like the client, but they are not your friend.”

Instead, let the client explain what amount they have in mind and why; if it’s unsatisfactory, you can always try to bargain up. By waiting, you also diminish the chances of underselling yourself; the rate your client offers could be above what you were expecting.

Connect your skills to the core needs of the job

It often happens that a client will pay more to get the exact right person in the job, so let them know how your skills and talents can help them solve their greatest needs. Alex Serio of Nameless Network, the company behind the wildly successful Museum of Pizza pop-up, says demonstrating that kind of value is essential to getting what you want in terms of pay.

“Ultimately, I want someone’s unique talent, not just to get the work done,” she says.

The same ethos is espoused by Astrid Stavro, who recently became a partner at Pentagram. “I work out budgets based on real numbers, and I’m very frank, honest, and upfront with any freelancer who works with me, both regarding fees and payment schedules. People are worth what they are worth, and fees are fees. There is no in-between.” She explains that when you get an exceptional designer, you often find that person to be not only good for the job but good for the company as a whole. “When it happens, it’s priceless.”

Remember that this is a business agreement

No matter how upbeat your conversations with a potential employer are, you have to recognize that you’re striving to negotiate a business deal. Feeling like you have to sign onto a job to be nice is out of the question. “You may like the client, but they are not your friend,” says corporate consultant Jonathan. “They are interested in your services, secured for the best price. You may later become friends, but never forget that this is purely business.”

For that reason, be sure to take the time to all of the expectations of the agreement. Luke Anton, VP Brand Marketing & Buying Director at  2-TIMES, a private multi-brand fashion retailer and independent digital publisher, recommends that freelancers take care to ensure they understand all deliverables and timeframes. “As a freelancer, it’s your business to understand what you can and can’t deliver on, and to perform excellently and on time.”

*Last names removed to protect sources’ identities.

 

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2RnpPZI

The Keys to a Great Rebrand: Advice From the Duo Who Revamped Chobani and Spotify

The Keys to a Great Rebrand: Advice From the Duo Who Revamped Chobani and Spotify

It’s a tale as old as New Coke: a company decides it needs to rebrand, spends months and millions doing it, alienates its customers, loses a ton of money, and scrambles to bring back its original branding.

Indeed, there’s a certain doubt and anxiety wrapped up in the phrase “rebrand” and it’s easy to see why. Even companies with deep pockets and access to top talent struggle to pull off a successful rebrand, as the risks of tampering with brand identity — everything your consumers know you for — are inherently high.

But not all rebrands are a recipe for disaster. In a recent conversation with 99U, Brian Collins, chief creative officer and co-founder of branding company COLLINS, and Leland Maschmeyer, chief creative officer at yogurt maker Chobani and co-founder at COLLINS, shared some of their best advice for executing a successful brand redesign.

Here are some of their key pillars for success.

***

1. Be crystal clear on why you need a rebrand.

Not every problem can be resolved with a rebrand, nor should a company rebrand “just because.” The decision to overhaul your company’s logo, typography, imagery, voice, and advertising and marketing approach is a big one that should be thoroughly vetted.

Maschmeyer says it’s best to start out by identifying whether the following three truths apply to your brand. “In the question of when to do a rebrand, it’s really when one or all of these three things are your core business problem,” he says.

  • Your product commands a premium in the marketplace. If your product can’t command a premium, then it’s a commodity, says Maschmeyer. “There’s nothing intangible about the product that makes people want to pay more for it.”
  • Your brand creates elasticity for your company. Your brand should give you permission to move into new categories that aren’t your core line of business. “It’s a hard thing to do, but brand kind of greases the skids for that expansion,” he says.
  • Your brand improves marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Logos and other visual brand elements should evoke an instant — and positive — reaction with your audience. “Just that simple visual code does so much heavy lifting if you invest in it over time, and you double down on the same idea and reinterpret it in lots of different ways,” he says.

When Maschmeyer began working with Chobani, the problem was in all three areas: the company faced a ton of competition from copycats trying to drive them into a commodity by competing on price and needed to cultivate a brand that customers would choose no matter what. Secondly, the company was entirely defined by its product and didn’t have the elasticity to stretch into areas outside of Greek yogurt. And finally, the company was also outspending the marketplace three to one in its advertising and marketing efforts.

2. Dig deep into your history.

When companies are trying to carve a way forward, they can benefit by looking to the past. “We’ve often asked the business leaders we work with: ‘Do you have archives?’” says Maschmeyer. He gives the example of a company from the 1880s that was looking to rebrand and had a closet filled with old company memos and “dusty crap” that had accumulated over the years. In going through those mementos, piecing together a timeline, finding hints of the company’s former ideologies, Maschmeyer began to find a story that not only told where the company had been, but where it could go.

“When we presented it to the CEO, she was flabbergasted — I mean, absolutely astounded that we were able to find something in there. She got up and gave us hugs.”

The takeaway for businesses contemplating a turnaround? Dig deep. Go into your history. You may find clues that can guide you on a better path forward.

“The foundation you build is the thing that protects the work and the brand over time.”
Branding materials from Spotify.

Branding materials from Spotify. Photo courtesy of COLLINS.

3. Be willing to change your story.

Before Spotify rebranded, it saw itself as a tech company, communicating with customers about streaming speeds and music feeds. And its growth was suffering — the company had tapped out most of its early adopters, who were into the music technology, and needed to make inroads with people who didn’t care for “engineered-driven language around music,” as Collins puts it.

“When you want to scale, you can’t just speak to early adopters; you have to have a broader, more popular language,” he says. “The aesthetic and the symbols Spotify was using all said ‘engineering’ when they really should’ve been saying, ‘Wouldn’t you like to listen to this great piece of music? Would you like to listen to this song?’

The company’s rebrand was centered around connecting the company to music culture in an authentic way, rooting itself in the broader themes of the survival of music, the enrichment of the musical experience, and the greater connection between fans and their favorite artists. Spotify’s Discovery Weekly feature, widely considered one of its most successful aspects, was born out of that new story.

For anyone considering a rebrand, telling the right story is key. And even if it’s a departure from the story you told up until this point, experts say it shouldn’t feel like a total shakeup; it should feel like the thing you always wanted to say, but didn’t know how.

4. Connect what you’re doing to a futuristic idea — and leave room for others to join.

Brands gain relevance, support and elasticity when they connect themselves to a futuristic idea, say Collins and Maschmeyer. But some brands focus only on the aesthetics of aligning themselves with an idea and don’t put in the effort to understand it. Others see themselves as the sole purveyor of a certain future, when in reality, they’re better off keeping the door open for other brands to join. Explains Maschmeyer:   

“I think that’s such a big part of corporate culture today where if you can’t own something — if you can’t put a moat of lawyers around it, and say, ‘This is ours,’ then you don’t do it. And I think that’s the completely wrong approach if you want to be relevant and have a positive relationship with the future. There are so many ideas of the future out there and they’re all competing with each other and desperately wanting support, sponsorship and the creative energies of the public to help those futures bloom and become mass ideas normalized into our everyday life. And so if a company says, ‘You know what? We really care about mass sustainable transportation. That’s what we’re going to.’ It doesn’t matter if there are 20 other companies devoted to that same vision. It’s a big vision that everyone can get behind and contribute to in their own unique way. That’s the thing — the vision should be shared, but how you contribute to that vision should be unique.”

Collins uses his experience with IBM when he was at Ogilvy as an example of a company that did it right. Two decades ago, the computing giant lifted the term “e-business” into cultural relevance through stories and smart branding. “IBM didn’t trademark the word ‘e-business,’” he says. “Anyone could use it, so we could all socialize that future very easily. And it ended up reshaping the company.”

5. Meet your customers where they are.

An essential part of any rebrand involves doing extensive research on the patterns and behaviors of your customers. It’s there that you’ll be able to come up with new ways of reaching them, but also to find the voice that will resonate with the audience most.

Spotify, for example, noticed was that people were making playlists on their platform and naming them according to moments — i.e., dates, dinner parties, hangovers, happy days, sad days. They began to pay more attention, looking at specific songs and when they were playing with specific cultural moments so that they could connect with people at the exact right times.

“They had this one great piece of communication to all of the people who played ‘It’s the End of The World As We Know It’ during Brexit: ‘We feel your pain.’ It was great,” says Collins.

Branding materials from Chobani. Photo courtesy of COLLINS.

6. Get your key stakeholders deeply committed.

Whether you’re hiring outside consultants or doing a redesign yourself, make sure to get all of your key stakeholders involved in the process. Collins and Maschmeyer say that the best work happens when companies are fluid about where ideas come from and see the project as happening under the work of a unified team.

“It sounds a little kumbaya, but it’s actually true,” says Collins. “Because if you don’t make them feel connected to what it is that you’re doing, and they don’t have a deep sense of ownership of it, when you pass it off to them, they’ll run away with it, change it all and do whatever. They will not protect it.”

Even now, years after the Spotify redesign, he says leaders at the company continue to preserve and protect the work they created back then. “The foundation you build is the thing that protects the work and the brand over time,” he says.

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2DxpYWQ

How to Create Your Dream Job Inside a Company

How to Create Your Dream Job Inside a Company

For the first 25 years of his career, Scott Shute worked mostly in customer service-related leadership jobs. But in September 2018, he embarked on an entirely new career path, becoming head of mindfulness and compassion programs at LinkedIn.

The move began with a desire to do something different — Shute, who had been working as VP of global customer operations at the company, was longing for a truer sense of work-life balance.

“I wanted my outside-of-work life to be exactly the same as my inside-of-work life,” he says.

A student of mindfulness and meditation, he began leading an employee meditation class once a week, which turned into other initiatives such as a 30-day mindfulness challenge — an initiative that has since grown to 1,600 participants. It wasn’t long before he was known among his coworkers as “the mindfulness exec.”

“Seeing a need and creating a new position to fill that need can be a great career move.”

That momentum translated into a real job moment when LinkedIn’s CEO decided he wanted LinkedIn to lead the charge on compassion. Shute felt that this was the time to turn his side project into a full-time position. He pitched his bosses on a role in which he would not only drive a culture of compassion and mindfulness within the company, but prove its impact on productivity, job satisfaction and the customer experience.  

His efforts paid off.

“I’m in love with my work. It’s not without challenge, but it’s definitely what I want to do with my life,” says Shute. “I find that I’m excited to come to work on Mondays. This fulfillment spills over to everything I do. I’m happier, more creative, more giving, more patient. I’m a better version of myself.”

Shute’s story isn’t a one-off. In fact, at a time when companies are looking for fresh ideas to help them navigate a rapidly changing job landscape, experts say there’s an opportunity for workers — particularly creatives — to engineer roles that suit their own interests and aspirations while benefiting their employer.

“Seeing a need and creating a new position to fill that need can be a great career move,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, a creative staffing agency. “This is especially true in the creative and marketing industries, where teams need to innovate to keep up with demands in today’s ever-changing climate. If you can show the initiative to be at the leading edge of that change, you can position yourself and the organization for the future.” 

 

Position yourself as a key problem solver

David Shing’s career story is a perfect example. Originally hired to lead AOL’s marketing efforts in Europe, Shing maneuvered into the self-created role of “digital prophet” in 2011. It was a move sparked by his outspokenness: then-CEO Tim Armstrong was looking to change the company’s lengthy mission statement and had asked employees to weigh in. Shing told him AOL’s vision at the time “stunk,” and because of that, he was asked to take part in formulating a new one. He also began speaking on panels, presenting at conferences and developing a forward-thinking perspective that began to ripple across AOL and the industry.

“We weren’t just for old people,” he says. “We had women and fashion and other brands, but we needed a point of view to get noticed.”

“The most important thing to keep in mind is to do the smallest, least expensive experiment you can.”

By being able to build a new mission at the business, and now its parent company, Oath, Shing made himself invaluable.

“Tim [Armstrong] didn’t have to allow me to do that job but holy crap has it worked out for us in this organization,” he says.

Prove yourself through ‘experiments’

While there’s no one path to convincing your company to let you do your dream job, career professionals say it’s critical to figure out how your aspirations and interests intersect with the company’s needs. From there, it’s about convincing your company to let you pursue those goals.

Dona Sarkar, a former engineer who now works as an executive at Microsoft, says the best way is to start small. She’s had firsthand experience: In her role as head of Microsoft’s Insiders Program, a community of Microsoft fans who engage in conversations about the company’s products, she wanted to launch an initiative to help entrepreneurs in emerging markets grow their businesses. She and her team got approval for a six-month test program, promising to bring back ideas that would help Microsoft better serve customers in those markets.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is to do the smallest, least expensive experiment you can,” she says, adding you should “definitely call it an ‘experiment,’ which is always a success — you either prove a theory true or not.”

Ask yourself: What are some assumptions you have about your solution and how will you test it? For instance, do you think it will build awareness, drive customers or help convert people into users? How can you test your riskiest assumption about your solution early?

Build a fan club

When trying to prove yourself, it’s important to build a network of supporters within the company, says Sarkar. Think: Who can help you as you look to prove your case for a new type of role? What sort of mentors and sponsors can you have advocating for you? Who is willing to be the “victim” of your experiment?

“When it’s time to share your dream job plan with your manager, make sure you present your research in full, highlighting how the new position will help the business.”

Finally, remember to communicate any success you’ve had in your experiment so that you can continue to build momentum and attract more support, Sarkar says.

Get into the nitty-gritty

Domeyer of The Creative Group adds that your approach should entail doing extensive research, including reviewing the current trends, determining what skills you need for the role and creating a draft of your potential responsibilities, along with any salary requirements.

“When it’s time to share your dream job plan with your manager, make sure you present your research in full, highlighting how the new position will help the business,” she says. “You and your manager can then work together to develop a plan to execute it.”

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2AZi5aW

Speakers Announced for the 11th Annual Adobe 99U Conference

Speakers Announced for the 11th Annual Adobe 99U Conference

Creativity is futureproof. It’s human. It’s global. It’s technology-agnostic. It doesn’t discriminate. 

From people working at the bleeding edge of their fields to others bringing more humanity to technology and business, the program for the 11th Annual 99U Conference is a call to action for creatives to take control of our tomorrow. Because we believe that when creatives take their rightful seat the table, the future is bright.

Here’s a look at what to expect at this year’s 99U Conference, taking place May 8-10 in New York City.

***

Main Stage

In a series of main stage talks and performances over two days, we’ll hear from leaders and groundbreakers across the fields of inclusive design, augmented intelligence, sonic design, data humanism, poetic computation, and brand voice.
 

Headshot of Tim Brown, IDEO CEO

Tim Brown
CEO & President, IDEO

As the CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design, Tim’s work has had a significant impact on the increasing presence of creativity and design thinking in almost every corner of business. Having helped to chart the course of the design industry for the past few decades, Tim will sit down for a can’t-miss conversation on what lies ahead.

 

Headshot of Kat Holmes, Microsoft

Kat Holmes
Director, UX Design, Google & Founder, Mismatch.design

As the author of Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design and founder of the Mismatch.design firm, Kat’s dedication and approach to inclusive design is informed by the World Health Organization’s definition of disability as a “mismatched interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live.” She currently serves as Director, UX Design at Google, previously held the position of Principal Director of Inclusive Design at Microsoft, and her award-winning inclusive design toolkit is on display at Cooper Hewitt.

 

headshot of anna pickard, slack

Anna Pickard
Head of Brand Communications, Slack

Following a career in journalism at the Guardian, Anna joined Slack as the then-startup’s first writer. Since then, she’s become the course-setter for the entire company’s voice as Head of Brand Communications, reaching three million-plus users with authenticity and humanity, and reshaped how the greater tech industry thinks about communications.

 

merrill garbus, tune-yards

Merrill Garbus
Musician, Tune-Yards

A musician who is at once forward-facing and deeply present, we’re thrilled to feature a live performance by Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards on the 99U main stage. First gaining notice with the debut album BiRd-BrAiNs, which The New York Times called “a confident do-it-yourselfer’s opening salvo,” Merrill forged a reputation as a sonically adventurous musician and formidable live presence. Merrill and Tune-Yards bassist Nate Brenner recently scored Boots Riley’s acclaimed film, Sorry to Bother You, and the group has collaborated with music industry legends including Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, and Mavis Staples.

 

Headshot of Vivienne Ming, Socos Labs

Dr. Vivienne Ming
Co-Founder & Executive Chair, Socos Labs

Vivienne has the answers to one of our most pressing questions: How will AI influence the future of creativity? After pursuing research in cognitive neuroprosthetics at UC Berkeley, Vivienne founded Socos Labs, an independent think tank exploring augmented intelligence (you read that right: “augmented,” not “artificial”) and the future of human potential. Her AI systems have helped treat her diabetic son, predict manic episodes in bipolar sufferers weeks in advance, and reunite orphan refugees with extended family members.

 

headshot of kyle t. webster, adobe

Kyle T. Webster
Design Evangelist, Adobe

An unrivaled innovator in the digital art and illustration world, Kyle is best known as the founder of KyleBrush.com, the brand behind the world’s best-selling, industry-standard Photoshop brushes. His brushes — the first of their kind to be officially licensed by Adobe for inclusion in the Adobe Creative Cloud — have been used by professionals at Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Weta Digital. His illustration work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Communications Arts, and American Illustration, and he teaches the next generation of creatives at UNC School of the Arts.

 

headshot of ashley c. ford, writer

Ashley C. Ford
Writer, Editor, Speaker, Host

Ashley is a master of boldly honest storytelling in all its forms, receiving praise for her thought-provoking, and powerful essays and talks. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, ELLE, BuzzFeed, Slate, Teen Vogue, and New York Magazine, and she currently hosts the interview series PROFILE by Buzzfeed News.

 

headshot of michael ventura, sub rosa

Michael Ventura
Founder & CEO, Sub Rosa

The founder of strategy and design firm Sub Rosa, Michael is a leading thinker in the intersection of empathy, creativity, and business. Sub Rosa has worked with organizations including Pantone, Adobe, TED, Delta, and The Daily Show; and Michael’s thinking has spawned a book, a monthly speaker series, and even a deck cards.

 

headshot of thaniya keereepart, patreon

Thaniya Keereepart
Head of Product, Creator Experience, Patreon

Thaniya’s passion lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction, design, and behavioral economics. Following her tenures at Major League Baseball and TED, Thaniya now helps creatives make a living by connecting them with their biggest fans as Head of Product, Creator Experience at Patreon.

 

headshot of joel beckerman, man made music

Joel Beckerman
Founder, Composer & Producer, Man Made Music

Design isn’t always a visual medium. An award-winning composer and the author of The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy, Joel is the founder of Man Made Music, a global sonic studio that has designed experiences for AT&T, Disney, Nissan, and IMAX. Joel isn’t just rethinking sound; he’s also rethinking the conference talk, bringing a ‘sonic keynote’ to the 99U main stage.

 

headshot of zach lieberman, school for poetic computation

Zach Lieberman
Co-founder, School for Poetic Computation

Zach has one goal: to surprise you. He creates performances and installations that achieve impossible things, like making drawings come to life, imagining what a voice might look like, and transforming silhouettes into music. His creations have been listed in TIME’s Best Inventions of the Year and he’s the co-founder of the School for Poetic Computation, which examines the lyrical possibilities of code.

 

headshot of giorgia lupi, accurat

Giorgia Lupi
Partner & Design Director, Accurat

Giorgia is a creative leader working to make data more human. She’s the co-founder of data-driven design firm, Accurat, co-author of Dear Data, and an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow.

 

Duncan Wardle Breakout Session

Duncan Wardle of id8 & innov8, pictured here at his 99U workshop in 2018. Photo by Ryan Muir for 99U.

Master Classes and Workshops

We’ll dive deep into new creative technologies and the future of work in a series of breakout master classes and workshops with some of our favorite individuals and organizations, including:

WeTransfer
SYPartners
COLLINS
Local Projects
Adobe Design
Wolff Olins
HUSH
Fake Love
Man Made Music
Tina Essmaker
Duncan Wardle
Sylvain Labs
Anton & Irene
Meg Lewis
Adobe Creative Residents
Jasmine Takanikos
co:collective
Decoded
Christina Amini
Sahar Yousef
Lisa Rothstein

 

Register now and join 1,000 fellow creatives at the Adobe 99U Conference, May 8-10, 2019 in New York City.

 

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2Hqykn4

10 Creators On When They Knew They Had to Make a Change in Their Careers

10 Creators On When They Knew They Had to Make a Change in Their Careers

Change is inevitable. Without it, we would cease to exist. It is happening every day, in imperceptible ways and major milestones that alter the course of everything, like getting married, switching careers, and having children.

But sometimes you need to seek out change. You are in a slump, feeling uninspired, unhappy, or stuck. It is during these times that the changes we make – subtle or large – often have the biggest impact on our lives. So we asked 10 creatives, from creative directors to photographers, what change they made in their life and what impact it has had on their work.

***

1. When my work values shifted:
Miyako Nakamura, Creative director and head designer, MM.LaFleur

I had to change my perspective about how I created value in my clothing. I spent 10 years working as a designer in the luxury fashion market in New York City. Yet I found there was a disconnect in how people see fashion, and how people inside the industry see clothes.

No matter where I worked, the universal struggle was that I had to define value.  There was a delicate balance between art and commercial potential; there was never an easy answer to satisfy both sides. So I wanted to revisit the idea of my profession and what it means to be a fashion designer. I felt that for the clothing to be appreciated, I had to change how people value the garments I create.

I met Sarah, the founder of MM.LaFleur, during the time I was changing my thinking process. She gave me an opportunity to create a line of dresses that serve professional woman. When I started to design for her, I streamlined my design: less decoration and more focus on cuts and quality of textiles, as well as the way they are manufactured. Then, I focused less on inventive looks and more on an inventive approach to the product. After designing for MM.LaFleur for the past six years, I am proud to have created products that support the lives of our customers in a very true sense.

What this whole experience taught me is that the way you define the value of your creation might not be the same as others around you. It is up to you to decide how valuable things can be.

2. When I recognized the importance of business:
Elaine Chernov, Founder of Shipshape Studio

Somewhere, five or six years into my career, I began to see that having a successful career in design was going to have to be more than just striving to have the most creative awards. Leaving design and advertising school, I believed that if I just worked really hard on making the best ad creative or design work, then nothing else really mattered – it would all fall into place.

But after spending hundreds of late nights in an office working on a pitch or a big branding project, I realized there was not anything really heroic in creating the best work; it was all business. I was just helping to sell more of whatever, and the agency I was working for was using creative people’s inherent need to create their best work to their advantage.

I had a shift in mental attitude that didn’t just come from burnout but also from reading about perspective, being a slave to an agency and, at the time, its toxic culture.

At first, I just wanted to not feel taken advantage of. I started asking for more pay and being clear about when my workday was over. At the time, I had cofounded an all-female design collective in Chicago. We learned about business stuff – salary negotiation, copyright laws, and presenting to boardrooms, to name a few. It was all the other things that design school skipped over because it’s not directly tied to making the best design work.

Eventually, when I went from agency work to working in-house at startups, not only did my quality of life go up but I was also able to see how design directly impacted businesses.

When you understand the lifecycle and gears behind how a business operates, you begin to see what parts of the business can benefit from creative work and which parts just sound fun to work on but won’t move any significant needles. As such, not only do you begin to work smarter but you become an indispensable part of the business – not just a design monkey tapping away on your computer.

3. When I reconsidered what it means to have a ‘real job’:
Stephan Ango, Cofounder, Lumi

I went to college for evolutionary biology but discovered partway through that design was actually a profession. For some reason it had never crossed my mind that this was a job. I had always been interested in making websites and interfaces and various forms of art but didn’t consider them real “jobs.” That changed after a visit to a Muji store in Shanghai. I realized there are people in the world whose job it is to decide how all the things around us are made. It was a life-changing moment and made me want to pursue industrial design. Yet making that switch was quite difficult. With a degree in biology, I applied for internships to more than 50 design agencies in the U.S. and was rejected by all of them because I didn’t have enough experience. I finally found an internship at a great design agency in the Netherlands. This experience convinced me I wanted to pursue design, and I’ve been working as a designer ever since.

At Lumi, my experience as a biologist still shapes the way I think, as I often find myself falling back on scientific methods. Being methodical about my approach to answering a question helps me make progress in a more predictable way. Also, natural selection is a process I think about when developing products over several generations. How do we take what we learned with each iteration and continue making it better?

People should pick an industry they are interested in and become obsessively curious in understanding its inner workings. Too much of education focuses on “problem solving” and not enough on “problem finding.” Getting good at finding interesting, important problems is a skill of its own. I continually ask “But why?” as I delve deeper and deeper into any area.

4. When I felt totally stunted:
Trevor Basset, Senior designer, Starbucks

I once worked at a very small, toxic branding agency. I felt like my work wasn’t being taken seriously, and there was little room to grow. I did not feel inspired coming into work, and my mood was increasingly down. This stemmed from uncommunicative, unavailable, and cold leadership. After two years I knew I needed to move on. I decided to leave the agency. I took a leap of faith. I didn’t have anything lined up but had previously worked as an in-house designer and was interested in returning to that world.

During this time, I felt freedom to try new things, but was hesitant of committing to anything full-time right away. I contracted with Outdoor Research for nearly a year before I transitioned into my role at Starbucks, where I’ve now been working for the past two years. It was the perfect move for me, and I couldn’t be happier going back in-house.

I had primarily worked for smaller companies, so it was a big change moving to an office that has somewhere around 5,000 people in it. There are so many talented artists within the organization. Seeing the work everyone makes has pushed me to continue exploring new styles within my own work and to challenge myself in a way I didn’t feel before. Looking back, I wish I had listened to my gut and left earlier. If things aren’t feeling right, I think it’s important to move on and find an atmosphere that supports you.

5. When I had a change of scenery:
Nina Hans, Cofounder and creative director, Weekday Studio

During a big trip around the world for five months with my now business partner and life partner, we spent the time reflecting on what our lives looked like working for other people and what we wanted for ourselves. That trip was where the idea of Weekday Studio was born.

Our studio has five values, and only one of them is actually about design. Time management, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, conflict resolution, follow-through, resilience, and positivity all affect my job just as much as, if not more than, actual design skill. Doing what you say you’re going to and in the time you committed to doing it can help you stand apart, and get repeat clients and tons of referrals. As obvious as it may it sound, it really has helped our studio grow and sustain itself in a short amount of time.

Since Weekday Studio opened, everything for me has changed. I now focus on learning everything possible about my clients, their customers, and their competitors. I feel it’s one of the greatest strengths we have – listening to and learning about our client’s needs and pain points and utilizing design to solve them.

6. When I sensed that there was more I could be doing:
Sara Woolsey, Creative director, Richer Poorer

During my first six years of working as an apparel designer, I came to realize that working primarily from my desk on my computer was not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Gaining experience as a designer was a huge plus for my career, but I wanted to be more involved with an overall brand strategy at a smaller company; I knew designing clothes wasn’t the only piece to running a successful clothing company.

So in 2012, the company I worked for gave me an option to take a promotion that involved more management or be laid off. My husband and I had been talking about doing some traveling for a while, and after being given this choice by my manager it seemed like a natural time to go.

We took an extended road trip around the U.S. in our Volkswagen for three months. While we knew a few people who just got up and left their life, it was really hard for me to make that change. While on the road, I almost had a nervous breakdown when our van broke down. Once I was able to accept that this was just part of our adventure, it was like I gave myself permission to start enjoying myself. Not only did I learn to let go, I also learned to have a different approach to my work.  For so long, I had discerned that I had been trying to fit myself into a certain box of what a designer should be like and what they should reach for. I knew I had to start thinking of each experience – whether at a job or on vacation – as a building block to discovering what I loved. It’s the discipline of choosing what you ultimately strive toward every day. In my case, it was deciding to advance my career as a freelance designer and spend any extra money on travel – my own personal creative R&D. After six years, this led to me gaining my current position.

I learned that we are often our own worst critic. We need to be kinder to ourselves, and give ourselves grace each day.

7. When I was laid off:
Kristian Tumangan, Product designer at the Weather Company

I began my professional career as a graphic designer doing a mix of print and marketing work. While I was working for an online marketing agency, I wanted to know more about the users and customers our clients were trying to reach and know how they built their products and businesses.

I started going to UX workshops and having conversations with designers that made the change from graphic design to user experience design. I also started taking part-time UX classes at institutions like General Assembly and UCLA Extension. While taking classes I was laid off, and as unfortunate as that may sound, it actually pushed me to strive for more opportunities outside of my comfort zone. From those events I was fortunate enough to get hired as a product designer and work at the Weather Company.

The shift helped me design for users and meet challenges to which I never thought I would be exposed. These new experiences are always pushing me to become a more empathetic problem-solver and designer.

I also learned that by taking the time to immerse yourself in a curiosity can not only help you learn something new but it can also lead you to new opportunities you never thought would be there. For those looking to make a change, continue to see how you can always evolve as a professional, and always strive to learn more about the curiosities you may have.

8. When my boss gave me some real talk:
Brooklyn Dombroski, Freelance photographer

Photography has always been my first love. Ever since I picked up a 35mm camera at age 11, it’d be an extension of my arm. But when it came time to go to college, I decided to get a degree in graphic design – and found out pretty early that it wasn’t for me.  But I didn’t think I could make it as a photographer in such a highly competitive field, so I got a job doing visual merchandising and marketing for a corporate surf company in Hawaii. Yet that photography dream kept gnawing at me. Three years down the road, I began visualizing how I could transition into freelance photography. I knew if I was going to make the change, I would have to go all in.

My boss could tell that my heart was no longer in it, and she actually encouraged me to move on and pursue my dreams of becoming a full-time photographer. I respected her so much for that, because it was terrifying for me. I was constantly questioning my ability and self-worth. So honestly, that little push from her changed the trajectory of my life.

I have built my business from grassroots and feel so blessed to do what I love every day. During this transition, I learned to let go of words like stability and security that the corporate world can offer to pursue my passion. I also realized the strength I had – I was more than capable and equipped to take charge of my life and to make my dreams a reality.

And while the freelance lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I do encourage people to relentlessly pursue whatever it is that they are passionate about. I do believe that our souls will forever be restless until we are living out our authentic lives. So take a chance.

9. When I gave myself a reality check:
Suzan Choy, Designer and illustrator

I’ve worked in quite a few different environments and situations in my professional life – everything from a corporate office to an agency and startups. But I’ve learned the most while working at an agency, as rotating projects are frequent and new teams are constantly formed. Yet learning to work happily as a team with new people was a struggle for me. At some point in my agency life, I realized a constant debate wasn’t going to solve any problems. I couldn’t change how other people were going to act or feel, but I could change how I approached the situation.

I started to mentally note when conflicts arose and started asking myself what I was feeling and why it mattered. Then I took a step back and thought about how my teammate or client was feeling. What were all the possible motives behind their words – good or bad? The point was to put myself in everyone’s shoes and think about if there was a way the situation could’ve been handled so we could all feel good about the outcome.

With this change, I started feeling empathy for my clients and teammates. In doing so, I began to feel better in general. That meant whenever a tense topic was brought up or a problem arose, instead of automatically feeling defensive or annoyed, I approached the situation with humor and ease. This created a positive space, and others around me also started approaching situations with less tension.

This process helped me learn to have patience with others and myself. How I react to a situation can also drastically impact how others respond to me. I also learned to trust others. Most people do not have ulterior motives and are just trying to get their jobs done as best as they can.

10. When I got tired of complaining:
Adi Goodrich, Set designer, photographer, and founder of Sing-Sing

A change I recently made was to start a school at our studio, Sing-Sing. It’s called Saturday School. For our jobs, my partner Sean and I work on numerous projects, including set design, photography, animation, and filmmaking. We have this studio in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, and we felt we needed to share it with the community.

Sean and I had been complaining for years about how cool other cities were and how Los Angeles lacked this certain feeling. We longed for more education and chances to meet like-minded artists in our city.

With starting a school, we’re able to attack the negative feelings we had about Los Angeles. We invite artists we don’t know into the studio, teach our 20 combined years of experience to them, and have great discussions about art, creativity, and collaboration. The last class we did was a music and figure-drawing class. Fifteen people attended while our friend John Bowers played music. The proceeds went to paying the model and the musician – which is pretty amazing that they could show up for two hours and take home some cash while feeling like they gave back to a group of artists.

Los Angeles often feels lonely, and we feel more connected to the city by simply using our skills and inviting our friends to share their talents with the people who show up. This is also a way to combat the time we put into commercial projects. Advertising can leave you feeling a bit hollow.

If you have negative feelings about the community you live in, it’s up to you to make that change. I understand most people don’t have studios to share, but this is the thing we had to offer. To imagine them also sharing their obsessions and meeting new collaborators is blowing my mind.

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2QSHQP6

After an Iconic Logo, What’s Left to Create?

After an Iconic Logo, What’s Left to Create?

It was 1977. Robert Janoff had been out of school for seven years and was working at public relations and advertising firm Regis McKenna in Palo Alto, California. Intel was one of his biggest accounts.

One day, a guy entered the office holding a machine that looked vaguely like a typewriter. With long stringy hair and holes in his jeans, he was looking for the person working on Intel’s ads. His name was Steve Jobs, and he very much wanted Janoff to design the logo for his new company, to be put on the Apple II computer.

“Talk about being in the right place at the right time,” says Janoff, now 70.

The only direction he received from Jobs was to “not make it cute.” Janoff got to work, designing what would become one of the most iconic logos on the planet. He played with the dichotomy of a complicated electronics company having the name of a simple fruit, focusing on an apple shape and adding in the bite for scale and the multicolor stripes as a way to represent the test pattern bars shown on computer screens.

He presented only this one idea to Jobs. “I just did the one – I have never done that after that,” Janoff says. “I was so clear this was exactly the thing it should be that there weren’t any alternatives.”

Fortunately, Jobs approved – and the logo, while tweaked in the coming years, remains Janoff’s original design.

“Today, when I go into an airport and everyone’s on their laptops, I’ve got these little white logos looking at me all over the place,” says Janoff.  “It’s a great reward to see it all over the place.”

It’s easy to imagine that Janoff’s life changed the day he created that logo. But it took years for Apple to become the trillion-dollar tech giant it is today, years for its logo to brand itself in consumers’ minds. And the reality is, if Apple hadn’t become a great company, Janoff’s great logo might have faded into oblivion.

“Success is not a certificate that promises you smooth sailing after that.”

That’s the thing about logo design – so much of its success is wrapped up in external factors, particularly the fate of the company itself. With no guarantees that one “big break” will lead to another, designers must develop their own barometers for success.

Ruth Kedar, the designer behind Google’s original logo, came to terms with that reality long ago. “I am absolutely positive that if Google had not gone to the great heights that it has gone, and that if the Google logo had not become the most ubiquitous design of all time, you would not be talking to me,” she says.  

Kedar, 63, had been introduced to Sergey Brin and Larry Page through a mutual friend while she was teaching at Stanford. Recognized for her forward-thinking approach and interest in arts and technology, the two founders sought out Kedar for their Google logo. Using a unique Catull typeface, Kedar set out to create a logo that was approachable, disruptive, and different, with an anti-establishment tone.

Logo iterations of Ruth Kedar's famous Google logo.

Logo iterations of Ruth Kedar’s famous Google logo. Photo used with permission courtesy of Google Inc.

After getting blessings from Brin and Page, the logo remained with the company until 2015 – and is forever imprinted in consumers’ minds.

“We started a very small company with a great vision, but none of us envisioned the company to be where it is today. And the fact that the brand allowed them to use and grow them with them for such a long time was my biggest success,” she says.

Yet similar to Janoff, Kedar didn’t become an overnight success. While the public’s response was positive, there was no major media coverage, accolades, or peer recognition. After its completion, Kedar continued teaching at Stanford before she transitioned into the online marketing world, focusing more on her design firm, Kedar Designs.

“Success is not a certificate that promises you smooth sailing after that,” says Kedar. “Because the truth is, if everything is fantastic after that, what do you really draw your inspiration from?”

It wasn’t until Google’s 10th anniversary, in 2008, that the world would pay attention to Kedar.

Not only did the U.S. media want to meet the woman behind the Google logo, but so did press outlets from all over the world, including Brazil, Israel, and Argentina.

“There was definitely a lot more interest, no doubt about that,” she says. “There were a lot of opportunities that I had that I would not have had, had those articles not been published.” It helped her get more clients for logos and also provided her a platform to mentor young women designers, participate in speaking engagements, and inspire others.  

The Sean Kenney’s Lego Wall located in the New York Google office.

The Sean Kenney’s Lego Wall located in the New York Google office. Photo courtesy of Ruth Kedar

For Janoff, his opportunities arose only after getting over internal conflict about what success should look like for a designer behind such an iconic brand.

“For the longest time, I didn’t talk about it that much. I believed that people thought the person who designed the Apple logo must have a huge design studio and be really rich,” he says. “I was neither of those things.”

It wasn’t until meeting a business partner pushed him to share his story with the world that opportunities based on the Apple design started coming in.

“People love Apple. People love American stuff,” Janoff recalls his business partner telling him. After sharing his story on his website, he says, “We started getting inquiries from companies, and I am having a wonderful time working for international companies all over the world doing interesting work.”

“Greatness is not created by always trying to do something better than you did last time; it’s a constant expression of where you are in your own evolution.”

Because achieving external success often takes a long time in the creative world, many designers continue to build their portfolio in the ensuing years – focusing less on what the public may one day deem successful and more on how they continue to raise their own bar in their career, including creating milestones.  

“Whether they are personal goals or business goals, the idea is that they have a clear direction,” says success coach and mentor David Neagle on how to stay inspired. “They should not be focused on a destination at which they can stop, but focused on opportunities to step into situations that will challenge them and also give them experiences that then lead them to achieve their next set of goals.”

For Mike Deal, 31, one of the designers behind the Pinterest logo, success, even in the digital age, took years. Yet he never waited for external recognition to push himself to the next level; it had to come from inside.

“At the time the Pinterest logo came out, it wasn’t a highly recognized brand, and so it was kind of a slow build over time,” says Deal, who even before Pinterest had successful ventures early on in his career, at around the age of 23. Rather than wait for any sort of recognition, he focused on his next milestone, which took him to the media industry and soon to the blockchain world.

“A lot of designers, creative types – you are driven by a kind of curiosity, and it’s at odds with what makes more business sense, which is to specialize deeply in something and command a high asking price for those services,” he says. “But a lot of designers and artist types are more prone to leaping around and trying new things and chasing butterflies.”

And that sort of mind-set is what success tends to be about: an individual’s internal journey. Creatives often look to use their skills to finish a problem, and due to their ambition and drive, once solved, they want to try something new. Otherwise, life can become a bit stagnant.

“Greatness is not created by always trying to do something better than you did last time; it’s a constant expression of where you are in your own evolution,” adds Neagle. “Your mindset should be that you can be constantly creating throughout your entire lifetime.”

from Adobe 99UAdobe 99U https://adobe.ly/2Hcji4a