Brian began his Y20 presentation with advise for emerging graphic designers (and anybody in the creative industry, really) discussing “Things I wish I knew when I was studying to become a Graphic Designer.” Which can be summed up as doing good work, work that visually improves the space that it occupies. Here are the highlights:
Make ads that don’t look like ads (or whatever you make, make it not look like that).
Become a technical expert, be fast at the things you can control so you can spend time on the things you can’t.
Build a diverse library of inspiration. It will help you be more authentic as it will reduce the risk of inadvertently copying someone else.
Take a break. Have a hobby. Do something else for a bit, it will help you think.
This valuable insight from Brian’s very promising career (in October of 2014 he was named as an ADC Young Gun) was complemented by the second part of his presentation, where Brian discussed what he has learned in putting this knowledge into practice and how his skillset has helped him to do work for good.
Many of the projects Brian worked on while at DDB are partially credited for the creative revival of the agency, including The Drinkable Book, where he worked as a senior designer, and which brought the agency its first Cannes Gold Lion in two decades. The Drinkable Book integrates outstanding design and cutting-edge technology put to the service of a remarkable cause developed by Water is Life.
“The Drinkable Book is a life saving tool that filters water and teaches proper sanitation & hygiene to those in the developing world. Each book is printed on technologically advanced filter paper, capable of killing deadly waterborne diseases. And each page is coated with silver nanoparticles, whose ions actively kill diseases like cholera, typhoid and E. coli. Once water is passed through the filter, bacteria count is reduced by over 99.99%, making the filtered water comparable to tap water in the United States of America.”
We all want to use our skillset for the greater good, but at time the possibilities are overwhelming and the size of the task seem impossible to bear. As Brian put it, doing work for good is easier than we may think:
You don’t have to save the world. You might never change the world but what you can do is help the people that can change it. If there is something you believe in, find the company who is doing that important thing without the sexy, approach the company and bring the sexy! Make something people can’t ignore.
Agencies love pro-bono work because you get more creative freedom. Use that to your advantage but don’t be a scam artist.
Dead doesn’t mean dead. Proceed as if it happening. Persistency is key.
Beg for favours. If it’s a good project, people will want to help.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Don’t let funding hold you up. Get it done and sort it our later.
Be more than just a graphic designer. These projects happen though sheer force of will. Do whatever you have to do (wear all the hats you need to in order to get things done).
As the long round of applause and stimulating questions from the audience proved, we were all really inspired by Brian’s investment and igniting curiosity, and the endless possibilities of using creativity to help build a better world.
*For more information or to support the Drinkable Book project please go to www.waterislife.com Photos courtesy of Brian Gartside