Last week the students at DAAP—the world-class design school at University of Cincinnati—invited me out for an evening lecture on my work, as well as a visual thinking workshop. Lectures like this are an honor to be invited to—who doesn’t like talking about themselves to a captive audience for 2 hours? But the preparation for talks like these is actually a very worthwhile opportunity for self reflection on my own practice. Do people understand what the hell I do? Is my work telling the story of how I want to be perceived? Am I doing the work I want to be doing?
My latest version of my studio’s story is summed up in the image above: essentially I’m a designer and an illustrator, but I use those core skills as both a noun (creating products, making drawings) as well as a verb (design-thinking, visual-thinking). And at the core of it all, I’m really just interested in ideas—design and illustration are just the most common ways I bring them to life.
This might be a bit of a complicated way to describe what I do, but that’s just because my portfolio is complicated. In creating this diagram I got the chance to reflect on which areas I enjoy, which ones compensate me, which ones are less obvious from my website, and which ones I need to put in more effort for more output.
Some days I wish my story were simpler and cleaner—that it didn’t require a diagram to explain. But then again, I told myself 18 months ago that going independent meant I finally had the flexibility to follow my interests and explore, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Sometimes that might be interpreted as “lack of focus” but other times it’s going to be the evidence of a person with “broad interests” and the “desire to keep experimenting and evolving.” And I think that’s the key—if the experimentation is followed by evolution, it’s at least directional. I’m heading somewhere, even if I’m meandering to get there.