Jordan Metcalf
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I’m not sure I count anything as a difficulty without feeling like it implies an expectation that things should have been easier or better, or more successful and recognised. I think there is an expectation that success should be easy and immediate in this industry because the internet is so saturated with great work and celebrity designers, but that attitude seems to wilfully ignore the long road of energy, time, effort and experience needed to create and substantiate that success. I guess all the things that felt like difficulties were just realities that required a little more effort.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
I’m sure this answer is pretty universal but be arrogant, lazy and don’t listen to people.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
The value of focused, intelligent, and earnest self-promotion and networking. I missed the initial wave of social networking where people seemed to get good at the internet. I’m not great at it all but definitely see the value in being visible and engaged beyond just showing your latest work. It’s something I’m cynical about to a degree, and wary of the insincerity that clouds the internet, but it’s undeniable that it is a vital component of being successful these days. It’s kind of the tree falling in the forest with no-one to hear it scenario; if you do good work and nobody sees it, is it going to get you anywhere?
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
I say no pretty often. I’m not someone who takes on a hundred jobs at once and works until 3am everyday to try get them all finished. I also try not to work on weekends or after hours too much, but rather wake up early, go into the studio and put in a full days work. Even though I work for myself, I treat this like a job, a job I really enjoy, but a job nonetheless. Working for myself means finding the ideal balance between being a boss and being an employee.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Books that aren’t filled with other peoples design work. Not that they don’t have their place and value but, I think reading literature, almost any literature, opens up the possibility of better understanding how you feel about the world around you. I can track fundamental paradigm shifts back to specific books that opened up a line of thinking or understanding that I hadn’t had the words to articulate to myself before. I think reading constantly and diversely engenders empathy and critical thought, which leads to inherently more honest, positive work.
Jordan answered the questions on July 16, 2014.
The answers were published on July 18, 2014.