This was written for the forward of Kern and Burn, a Kickstarter funded book of interviews and essays from design entrepreneurs, including Aaron Draplin (Field Notes / DDC), Andy McMillan (Build Conf. / The Manual), Peter Buchanan-Smith (Best Made Co.), Ben Pieratt (Svpply / Lookwork / Varsity Bookmarking), and a load of other amazing folks.
I graduated from design school with boundless optimism, jumping from the bubble of university life into a post-recession real world, where hope was a rare commodity. I believed that design could induce change — that it could shape the way we understand and interact with our world.
I moved to New York for a lead design position at a two-person shop and considered myself lucky to be employed, even though we didn’t have a single client. We filled our time with small-scale side projects that we hoped would land us paying jobs. The projects did lead to new clients, and the cash started rolling in. For the first time in my career, I felt like a legitimate designer—but I wasn’t challenged; I was comfortable.