The Journey to Becoming a Designer is Never Easy

Design Juices recently published an interview with Michael DiTullo, a designer I greatly respect, where he shares his insights and challenges he faced to get to where he is today, namely a Creative Director at Frog. (Actually it seems he is now the Chief Design Officer at DEI Holdings, Inc. Congrats Michael!)
I fully relate to the stories he shared, and it seems almost every successful designer I’ve spoken too have made a similar journey. Indeed the journey of becoming a designer is never easy, and I’m glad that Michael was so open and candid especially the part about his struggling to land his first job.
In the interview, Michael also drops some amazing words of wisdom and I’ll share a few here:

Society influences all of us to adopt to the consensus of the tribe. This is a survival instinct which has served us well as a species, but innovation has always come from the fringes of a few rebels. There are two types of people who challenge the accepted behaviors of the tribe, destructive rebels, and constructive rebels. Destructive rebels tend to be cast out from the group, but constructive rebels tend to alter the nature of the tribe itself. If you are going to be a constructive rebel, you have to explain your intentions well so the group can understand and adapt.

A great insight in the building blocks of what makes a successful designers.

“Design is not an academic activity, nor is it an act of democracy. Design is a positive reaction to dissatisfaction.”

How many companies get it so wrong when they design by committee?

Designer is not a title, it is a type of person. It isn’t something I do, or even live, it is who I am, as a definition of self. I have no distinction between work and play, what I do for a client and what I do for the culture of design, it all comes from the same place. Cut me and I bleed in Pantone.

You have to live and breath design, just loving design these days is not enough.

…a bad design is a bad design no matter if it is sketched, modeled, or rendered in CAD. Never confuse a tool for a result, invention for innovation, or a process with a product. The goal is get great design into the hands of people and to love what you are making along the way!

I always say, you need to distinguish between good content and good presentation.
Thanks for sharing Michael, and what a great article for anyone who is interested to see and learn what it takes to be a successful designer. Head on over to Design Juices for the full interview.

  • Vikram

    April 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm Reply

    Wonderful article! This not only dusts off why we got into this profession but also let to loads of other extremely inspirational design forums

    • Brian (Design Sojourn)

      April 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm Reply

      @Vikram: Thanks for the kind feedback and sharing your thoughts!

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