Kelly Thorn
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
The difficulties I faced at the beginning of my career are still things I struggle with today: Finding new sources of inspiration, braving the world despite insecurities, struggling to keep my work authentic, finding my own voice. I think that I will always have these struggles, though they may evolve, and I’m kind of okay with that! Comfort breeds stagnancy!
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
Be cranky, over-confident, unteachable, be a victim, and don’t ask questions if you have them. Be snarky, smarmy, and uppity. Also, show up to your interview unshowered, wearing only a giant t-shirt, and fart a lot.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I would often be very nervous about messing up and would be overwhelmed with everything, so much so that I’d become frozen and not do anything. I still have to remind myself to take one thing at a time, and everything will be OK. Rome wasn’t built in a day, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, etc.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
I’m actually kind of terrible at efficiency. This is also a struggle that I think I’ll always have... But one thing I’ve found is that you should never be lazy. Being lazy is my downfall, and it’s such a time-suck. I once got a fortune cookie that said “Procrastination is the most destructive form of denial”.  This is totally true, because while you’re perusing Buzzed and Facebook and Insta and avoiding the thing you’ll have to do anyway, you could have just done the damn thing and then go on an adventure or out with friends.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Anything that my boss, Louise Fili, and her husband, Steven Heller, have written. Also A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles, any Speedball Text Book, Custom Lettering of the 40’s and 50’s, anything from NoBrow, the current edition of The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, and always keep an eye out for old children’s picture books in thrift stores!
Kelly answered the questions on March 22, 2015.
The answers were published on March 23, 2015.