Advice for Parting Seniors

Advice for parting seniors: 5 points of design advice and another 5 for life advice.

10. When in doubt, use Helvetica.

I don’t always use Helvetica, but it’s difficult to imagine a context in which it doesn’t work. When it comes to clean, modern, pragmatic and neutral design—Helvetica.

9. White space. Use it.

White space is a mark of elegance and a sign of sophistication on the part of the designer. Nothing breaks through clutter like nothingness.

8. Don’t decorate. Design.

When we merely decorate, we cheapen our initial calling—to create order out of chaos. Remember all the textures and filters in the world can’t save a failed concept. We must communicate clearly, otherwise we are as the Apostle said, “a resounding gong.”

7. Be confident in your work, but always proceed with humility.

Have integrity. Believe in your work. Fight for your work. But, designers that are afraid of critique only show their insecurity. Be a listener.

6. Designers rarely become rich and famous, but what we do can change the world.

We don’t sign our work in the way that an artist does. We don’t get noticed when work is good, but when it doesn’t work. We transcend our artifacts.

5. Prepare for uncertainty.

Your entire life you’ve been part of a system, being told where to go and what to do. You are now self-directed; there’s no imperative next step. This freedom can be suffocating. At least for me, the initial post-college was a difficult time because of the uncertainty. Give it time, you will find your way.

4. Our work is an offering.

The challenge is deciding to whom we offer our gifts.

3. Guard your heart by guarding your time.

People will take as much of you as you’re willing to give. Carve out time for personal creativity, for sanity, for fun.

2. “Blame it all on [your] roots.” —Garth

Every day that I look in the mirror, I become more like my father. You’ll find yourself slowly turning into your parents, for better or worse. Know that any attempt to deviate from the familial norms will be a tough swim upstream.

1. “Like your work. Love your wife.” —Del Griffith, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987

This quote is from one of my favorite films. It’s obviously a bit contextual and gender specific, so adapt as needed. The kernel of truth probably needs no explanation, but here’s one anyway: Love design, have a passion for your work, but in the end it is people that matter.

for the OBU senior class of 2013

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 11.57.10 AM.png