Drew Melton
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I was definitely impatient about everything (still am, to be honest). I have always been ambitious and once I committed to design as a career it took over my life. I wanted to be on the same level as people 20 years ahead of me without all the necessary experiences you go through over 20 years. I also struggled to make and manage money. I never paid myself enough and I always under-bid projects because I was afraid of losing work.
On top of that (and most importantly) I never had a mentor. If you are a young designer a mentor is crucial. Drop everything and go find someone you look up to or a small community that can help you along and inspire you on your journey. Doing it “on your own” is almost impossible. We all need help.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Be everything to everyone.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t add value to your life. Seriously. I don’t mean that you should never do anything that isn’t fun or exciting. I see a lot of people exhausting themselves doing things that they hate because someone asked them to do it. If you don’t like coding or doing website layouts stop doing it.
For me this issue has come up in production. I love drawing and re-drawing my pieces but I always hate the vectoring process. I’m good at it. But I always feel empty after sitting on a computer for 8 hours (or even 2 hours). So I am learning to collaborate with people more talented than me to do the work.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
My main rule: Leave the cell phone in the other room. I am very distraction prone (I hate admitting this) and when my phone is on my desk it’s almost impossible for me not to check it every 2 minutes. When I don’t have distraction immediately available I tend to find deeper focus. Getting into that productive zone is incredibly satisfying.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
The War of Art  by Steven Pressfield, Steal Like an Artist  by Austin Kleon, Dangerous Curves  by Doyald Young. Any book that Louise Fili publishes should be in your collection. The Lubalin book  by Unit Editions. I also love all of the zines that Colt Bowden puts out. Sign Painters  by Faythe Levine is amazing for the images and the stories. Other than that I have spent a lot of time finding vintage photo lettering books and magazines for inspiration.
Drew answered the questions on October 27, 2014.
The answers were published on November 13, 2014.