Matt Dorfman
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I graduated with a concentration in illustration but had become equally interested in design by the time I had to go hunting for a job. At the time, the popular wisdom was that you had to choose between design or illustration and that to consider both was impractical and absurd. So I was blindly seeking out design jobs with a weak illustration portfolio in a city in which I had zero connections.
The biggest difficulty inherent with multiple handicaps like that was convincing anyone to take a chance on me. I had to find ways to appeal to total strangers who I deeply respected without misrepresenting myself as sycophantic, or worse, forgettable. It was (and remains) socially awkward, mentally paralyzing and opened up a veritable tourney of self loathing and perpetual doubt that I never shook off. So it wasn’t easy.
But nothing is easy. And anything that you have a burning desire to do is going to be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. So avoiding any such difficulty won’t get anyone any further any faster.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
The best way to avoid getting hired is to avoid having a point of view. Being a designer implies that that person is interested in making the world a more stimulating and functional place. And that can’t be accomplished without opinions.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Only one — that whoever you think has all the answers most definitely does not have all the answers. Everyone who’s work you worship is stressing over their proposals, second guessing themselves and holding their breath before hitting ‘Send’ in the hopes that one of their many failures will inadvertently point them toward something that might be stubbornly wrangled into a success.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Always beware of the low hanging fruit. I recognize (and envy) that some people’s best ideas are often their very first ones but I fundamentally can’t subscribe to that notion with blind faith. If I think I found the answer to something, I make a point to keep searching and reconsider the problem until I can resolve it from another perspective. Because if I thought of it easily, then somebody else probably got there first.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Design and art books can stoke your sense of envy — and that’s important — but reading and absorbing literally anything else other than those big beautiful drool-worthy books will ultimately be the source point of any designer’s mission through life. Reading is the easiest and laziest way to get familiar with all of the conflicts of the human experience, and the more insightful perspectives on that human experience live in stories outside of design books.
Having said that, I’m always wrong about something. I’ve revisited Lawrence Weschler’s biography of Robert Irwin, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees  and Buckminster Fuller’s I Seem To Be a Verb  over and over again since college, so there’s probably something to them.
Matt answered the questions on October 9, 2014.
The answers were published on October 10, 2014.