Recently in Words of Wisdom Category

Good Advice: Do Your Homework & Make a Good Impression

Good Advice: Do Your Homework & Make a Good Impression

Just read this awesome tidbit of advice from Adam Glassman, creative director at O, the Oprah Magazine:

First of all, I think everyone should do their homework. You need to know who you're interviewing with -- not just the human being, but also the publication. And I can tell you numerous times people have come in and they've never picked up an issue of O Magazine. And I have to tell you something: that doesn't fly. There are so few jobs out there right now for young people, and there are a lot of people looking for a job. The moment you say that to me, the interview is over, basically, in my mind. 

The other thing is you have to keep in mind that you only have one chance to make a great first impression. That's why it's called a first impression. So you need to look the part, but you also need to project some kind of confidence. And I don't want to confuse confidence with cockiness, but you need some sense of self, and you need eye contact. I've had people in my office, and they weren't even looking at me. They don't even know what they're talking about; they're not looking at me; they're looking around; they're looking down; they're meek. That doesn't work.

Read the full interview over on and hear him explain the different types of Creative Directors at various magazines.

Photo from

Good Advice: Show the Work You Want to Get

One of the best pieces of advice I've received was to show the kind of work that you want to get.
--photographer David Stuart 

Over on A Photo Editor, photography consultant Suzanne Sease does Q&As with various photographers whose work she likes. Recently she spoke with photographer David Stuart about a recent Puma campaign he shot. She made note of a previous campaign he shot for the Children's Hospital that used a similar idea, sparking his comment above ... good advice for all types of portfolios!

Good Advice: History is Important

QUESTION: Why bother yourself about the archaic world of long-forgotten photographers when there is so much happening that is now? 

ANSWER: So you are not a stupid, vapid photographic twit.

That's the advice given over on LensWork Daily in a discussion about recent graduates and aspiring artists not knowing prominent names of their craft's history. Might seem harsh, and there's certainly people in the comments section calling him out for that, but it's also good advice. Even if your degree program doesn't require a history class or teach it in others, do your own research to learn the big names (and even the small ones!) of your particular field. 

Check out the full post and helpful comments out here.

The Internet Can Be Tricky Like That

If you're up on your journalism news, you've probably heard about young reporter Khristopher Brooks and his attempt to share his excitement over a new job through a faux press release on his personal blog ... a perhaps-fun and creative idea, but one that got him fired even before he started the job! 

There's lots to be said about the whole ordeal, but the big takeaway for you is to just be careful what you put online. The blog 10,000 Words has a great writeup with some tips to keep in mind for your own personal blog and social media use ... it's geared more towards the editor types, but us artsy folk can definitely learn from it too.

What About Freelancing?

You're Not the Boss of Me! 10 Ways to Help Start a Freelance Career

A staff job isn't the only way to work at a magazine. Art directors, designers, illustrators, photographers, stylists, and many more professions can find success freelancing. Starting a freelance career isn't as hard as you might think. Check out this article for some pointers to help you "get your freelance on!" 

Awesome Advice:

"Don't Be A D*ck"

Okay, those aren't our words exactly, but it's a good rule to follow, courtesy of typographer/illustrator Jessica Hische. Yes, we've featured her before. Many times. What can we say ... we're head-over heels in love with Jessica and her super-honest yet helpful advice. We've featured her insightful list of FAQs before, as well as her recent "Should I Work for Free?" Flowchart like most of the design blog world, not to mention her Daily Drop Cap blog, so really, if you haven't already seen this link we're about to give ya, then you're not paying attention.

Yesterday on her blog, Jessica answered the common question "How do I get freelance work?", and while her advice is spot-on for aspiring freelancers, it's also essential for full-time job hunters. Aside from some awesomely practical words of wisdom, the big takeaway in our own more conservative wording: Be Nice to Work With.

Working for Free, Take 2

Hopefully you enjoyed Jessica Hische's "Should I Work For Free?" flowchart that we posted the other day. But if it got you thinking, "hey, wait a minute! what about all these unpaid internships I'm applying for?", then head over to David Airey's blog post on the topic to see him argue the pros and cons. Be sure to read the comments there too, for a fuller perspective on the topic.

Good Advice: Do Your Own Thing

Over on A Photo Editor, there's a recent post about photographers using the iPad as their portfolio. While the post itself is great reading for photographers and designers alike, it was a comment to the post from Mike Moss that really caught our attention:
The worst advice I've heard in my time in photography has always been in regard to portfolios. If there are any young people reading this blog, just do whatever you want. NO matter how bad you may be at photography, there is always somebody out there that will hire you. And no matter how good you are at photography, there is always somebody out there that will think you suck. So just do your thing and go out and find the people that click with you.
Good Advice: Presentation is Everything

Good Advice: Presentation is Everything

Following up on last Tuesday's post courtesy of designer David Airey, we found another great piece of advice within his terrific brand-identity blog, LogoDesignLove. In an interview with Sagi Haviv, a partner at design firm Cherymayeff & Geismar, Airey asked about the lessons he's learned. Haviv's reply is great advice for all designers...
When Georgio Armani was first shown the new A/X logo we designed in 2008, he rejected it outright. However, we found out that the new mark had been presented to him between meetings in a rush on a white piece of paper. The A/X people then suggested approaching him a second time (which they almost never do) with our entire presentation showing the logo in applications such as magazine ads, store fronts and billboards. He then immediately approved it. This near-failure taught me that in our business, presentation is everything.
Check out the full interview here.

Good Advice: Your Success (and Failure) Is In Your Own Hands

Earlier this summer, Chris Arnold (founder of Creative Orchestra and former creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi) shared some of his advice for design students and recent grads with designer David Airey.  Read on for a few highlights from the post, and if you have advice of your own, please share! Our comments section would love to have you.  … MORE
More from Marian Bantjes

More from Marian Bantjes

Whether you were lucky enough to attend last night's AIGA talk featuring designer/artist Marian Bantjes or not, you'll still get a lot out of perusing her website. And whether you like her work or not, her page of student questions is definitely worth reading. If you get anything out of it, it should at least be these 2 things ... … MORE

Good Advice: Know the Product You Are Pitching To

The talented folks at Wonderful Machine (they represent select photographers) did a great Q&A with James Mullinger, Photo Editor at GQ magazine. Whether you're looking to become an art director, a photo editor or a photographer, it's a very worthwhile read about what he looks for in potential photographers. Perhaps the best piece of advice for all of us, whether applying for a design job or trying to get illustration or photography work:
What annoys you the most? Photographers sending in grossly inappropriate work for us to see. Look at the magazine before you send your work in. If you can see it on the pages of GQ, we'd love to hear from you. Otherwise don't bother. Know and understand the product you are pitching to.

More Job-Hunt Advice

To build on Sarah Garcea's advice from our recent Help Wanted event, fellow panelist John Walker shares some advice of his own:

Give yourself assignments for your portfolio to fill in any areas that might be weak or which you don't have enough examples. Want to do publication design? Design some spreads! Web design? Homepages! You get the clue. Get a friend to do the same, for encouragement and critiquing. Do one a week, and in six weeks you'll have SIX new portfolio pieces! Anyone looking at your portfolio will then be impressed that you have done extra work, and that you really want to work! --John Walker, Walker Design

Did You Miss Our "Help Wanted" Event?

A few weeks back, we held a speaker panel event to help answer some of your job-hunt questions. If you missed it, check out one of our panelists' advice below, and mark your calendars for another career advice event on March 15 ... keep reading for all the details.

More Job Hunt Advice

More Job Hunt Advice

That's some of the advice from a top creative director in this post about what she's looking for when she hires, over on Coroflot's Creative Seeds blog. Obviously that type of work doesn't really pay all the bills, so if you're still in school, it's probably smart to make a conscious effort to save up some money to allow you to take those kinds of jobs once you do graduate.

And if you don't know about Coroflot already, check it out! It's for all types of designers, not just editorial, but it's definitely useful ... there's a job board, you can post your portfolio, and their blog Creative Seeds has lots more great job-hunt advice. Here's a few of our favorites:
Michael DiTullo's Advice to Design Students
Five Successful Practices for New Grads
Six Reasons Why I Didn't Look at Your Portfolio
Is Networking Creepy?

Tips for the Hunt

Sorry that all you upcoming and recent grads are coming into the real world at such a very depressing time in the magazine industry and in the economy. But here's some help:

In addition to the informative essays and FAQs on the site we previously mentioned, check out TwentyFourSeven. It's an e-book you can download for free written by Adam Gravely expressly for graduating designers. He's compiled lots of interviews with top designers about their job and career advice, and combines it with essays on the real-world design experience. Check it out.

And good luck.

So You Think You Can Start A Magazine?

We assume that as readers of our SPD blog, the idea of starting your own magazine has crossed your mind at some point. Maybe it's just a random fleeting thought from time to time, or maybe you're more hard-core and already have your first issue fully-designed. Either way, you'll probably find the following link very interesting: