Elizebeth Murphy

Elizebeth Murphy


Connecting with Your Inner Designer

January 26, 2018

Last year, I spent a lot of time learning about how other creative teams have evolved, grown and found a new level of success.

Out of so many resources that are available, one of the most intriguing (and surprising) was Debbie Millman’s podcast, Design Matters, which surfs across a wide range of issues — things like tapping personal creativity, how process impacts solutions, building and maintaining the right culture, collaborating with clients, and the challenges of continuing to grow individually and as a team.

In the podcast, many of her guests (who are not all designers but also include philosophers, musicians and entrepreneurs) referenced a book she wrote back in 2007 called How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer.

Some technology referenced in the book is obsolete and the interviewees reach waaay back into “ancient” history, but I was inspired by multiple aspects of each conversation.

It struck me that even those of us who are not designing can benefit from the perspective, insight and experiences in these 20 interviews. Every one of these people continues to stretch their own capacity in one way or another, which I believe is Emspace’s next great (and exciting) challenge.

With this in mind, I gave everyone on our team a copy of the book at the start of 2018. Together, we’ll be sharing ideas, nuggets of truth, challenges — whatever we find to be important, helpful, motivational or simply interesting — with each other (and on this blog) throughout the year.

Kicking Things Off

One of the standouts for me was Lucille Tenazas, Henry Wolf Professor of Communication Design at Parsons School of Design.

Tenazas is all about making connections to figure out how the work needs to happen. She totally embraces how truly knowing your audience is the way to produce solid work.

My takeaway from Tenazas is that we all need to be involved in the process, we all need to connect with the client, and we all need to have a sense of what they’re looking for — so that it feels personal and real to all of us in one way or another.

“For me, our central purpose is about connecting with another person, another culture, and anyone who is different or has a different life,” says Tenazas. “When our paths and our goals are the same, people want to be happy, and they want to have a measure of success and acknowledgement of who they are. Their needs exist regardless of nationality, language or culture.”

That’s the whole premise of why I chose this particular book for Emspace to read. Whether we’re designing or not designing, we’re all problem solving. When we get a project right, that’s what we’re doing. We’re connecting and understanding — no matter our role on the team.

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