James Kape
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
The biggest difficulty for me was getting that first opportunity to shine. With little or no experience it’s very hard to get a job. I found it particularly hard following university because I wasn’t very proud of any of the projects that I had completed at university. Coming from a broad design degree I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. So I would say it’s very important to put time into those student projects at the beginning and sticking to a specific discipline toward the end of your degree is also important.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
I would say it’s good to reach out to other designers at firms or design studios you want to work at. However once you’ve contacted them and (if your lucky) they respond... Don’t then badger them with emails asking about jobs coming up. If you’re good and they like your work, they will remember you. Also approaching multiple people at the same firm could also be detrimental to your cause as it starts to feel like you’re nagging everyone.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I can’t say there is anything specific I wish I knew. I think as I have gone on there have been critical learnings which I felt I missed out at university that could have helped my career. But generally speaking I would have told young eager James that he needs to know how to code and animate, he needs to know about typography and baseline grids. He should be proficient in studio photography so he can document his work and he should try make every university project he tackles real in some way.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Yes, I would say using the baseline grid in everything I do, from websites to presentations. I think talking through ideas before you spend hours on execution is also very important.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I’m not sure that there is anything here I can recommend which hasn’t already been mentioned before, however at the risk of repeating what some of the great designers below have said. I would say investing in some of the classics by Josef Müller-Brockmann would be a good place to start. Then if your looking for a modern curation of the past, look no further than Unit Editions.
James answered the questions on October 27, 2014.
The answers were published on November 8, 2014.