Hamish Smyth
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
When I was 17 I got my first ‘design’ job at my local town’s newspaper ad department. At the interview I lied about knowing Quark layout software (I knew Illustrator and Photoshop; how hard could it be?). Since then I’ve always felt like I’m not really qualified for what I’m doing. I’m just now beginning to feel that I’m on top of things, and that I’m getting good at my job. (I got the job at the newspaper.)
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Give a bad first impression and have a bad attitude. I interview potential interns for our team, and I usually make up my mind before any work has been shown.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I had read more design history before beginning my career. But I also think that can be a positive. Also, programming.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Not sure if I’ve figured out how to do it efficiently, just yet. Lately I’m doing less late nights, so I’m doing something right. I try to turn off my email for large chunks of the day because I can’t resist checking it. Same with Twitter — turn off your wi-fi. Don’t always work with your headphones on, you’ll miss something.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I try to read as many different things as I can (something I’ve picked up from my boss Michael Bierut). I prefer non-fiction and the New Yorker. I recently read The Idea Factory, which is fascinating.
I believe having a good general knowledge is important as a designer (or in life). As you move between different clients, it’s important not to spend your days reading too many design books.
Hamish answered the questions on November 16, 2014.
The answers were published on November 25, 2014.