James Edmondson
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I am very much at the beginning of my career, so here are the difficulties I’m facing now.
A. I think I’m going to get fat if I don’t start exercising. I’m not fat yet, but it’s right around the corner. Sitting down all day is maybe not chill.
B. It’s hard to feel good about my productivity every day. I feel like more than half the time I am disappointed with my output.
C. I’m having trouble pricing my work properly. Most often I’m pricing too low.
D. It’s easy to feel motivated to do the design work, but things like proposals, paperwork, and other boring tasks linger more than they should.
Overall, my job stuff has unfolded pretty naturally. The transition from college, to grad school, to professional life has felt pretty normal. I have not been able to maintain a successful romantic relationship, so for me it’s that stuff that is more elusive.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
A. Ignore education.
B. Keep making the same shit, put it on Instagram, and think it’s awesome.
C. Keep to yourself. Shirk responsibility.
D. Know that you’re better than everyone.
E. Betray your friends.
F. Be racist, misogynistic, and close-minded.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Yeah sure, but in general there almost too much information available to every designer with an internet connection. There is only so much your brain can take in at one time, and there’s so much pressure on everyone to do the right things at the right time. I think everyone should be a bit easier on themselves. Having an amazing career and respect from colleagues does not equal happiness, so focus on what gives you joy because you’ll die soon anyhow.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
A. I use a program called TextExpander for email that saves much MUCHO time. I do a lot of customer support for fonts, and I have most of the emails pre-written now.
B. I sketch only until I know I can bring that sketch the rest of the way in vector. That way I’m not wasting time sketching a beautiful letter that might not even work in a word or paragraph.
C. I make a guy do my taxes now. Going forward, I’ll be looking for more people to do other sorts of things for me. I’m realizing these folks actually save me money.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
A. A sketchbook is the most useful book a designer could own.
B. When I was 19 I read a self help book called The Success Principles. The cover is super corny, and if I were to look at it now, it’s probably not something I’d read, but at 19, I less of a snob. Chapter One talks about taking 100% responsibility for everything in your life. Learning that has been the single most useful thing in my adult life. Never blame anyone for anything.
C. As far as design stuff goes, I like Michael Beirut’s answer, though I haven’t read Thoughts on Design.
James answered the questions on March 16, 2015.
The answers were published on March 17, 2015.