I think what makes it much more difficult to, to have the courage, to continue to experiment, you know, look at somebody like Joni Mitchell or Rickie Lee Jones, people that at their moment of peak success, commercially said, you know, I'm going to do jazz now, or I'm going to do instrumental now, or I'm going to do something else now. And you know, the word once again, you know, that changed the world. Even Dylan, when he went electric, you know, the world hates that, you know, we're supposed to be able to deliver an expectation that people are used to and feel comfortable with. And I think any type of huge success like that really sets you up to feel like you can't veer from that without either disrupting your level of success or disappointing people or outraging people, you know, the very things that thrill and delight and excite. Some people are the very things that outrage others. And once you start to have to gauge where you're going to sit in that continuum, you know, I think the original work is then pretty much obliterated,” so says Debbie Millman, author, educator, curator and host of one of the first, and longest running podcasts, Design Matters. Debbie is a creator to her core - she started her career at Sterling Brands, one of the world’s leading branding consultancies, and for twenty years led the company as President, working on the logo and brand identity for some of the world’s most prominent brands, from Burger King, Hershey’s, Haagen Dazs and Tropicana, to Star Wars and Gillette. Her writing and illustrations have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Print Magazine, and Fast Company. She is the author of seven books, the co-owner and editorial director of PrintMag.com, and co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her podcast, which has been nominated for six Webby awards, has been highlighted on over 100 “Best Podcasts” lists and was designated by Apple as one of their “All Time Favorite Podcasts”, has spent the past 17 years interviewing nearly 500 of the most creative people in the world.
Today she joins me to discuss her most recent book, Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People. This book, Debbie tells us, was born of her desire to stoke her own creative fire in a time when she was working as a creative but feeling artistically dead. Debbie regales us with tales of the creative processes of the greats, including the inevitable failures, rejections, and obstacles that are part of any creative journey, showing us how they persevere to create beauty in the face of adversity. In our conversation, we discuss the danger of expectations, the courage it takes to create and questions around who gets to call themselves an artist. We talk about the stereotype of the pained artist, finding inspiration, and how she teaches her students to refine and create their original voice.
She leaves us with her thoughts about personal brands and the way in which they limit our identity and our ability to continually pursue the new or experimental.
Fear around the new…(10:15)
Who gets to call themselves an artist?...(17:50)
The courage in experimentation…(22:52)
On personal brands…(43:00)
MORE FROM DEBBIE MILLMAN:
Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World's Most Creative People
More Books by Debbie Millman
Visit Debbie's Website
Listen to Debbie’s Podcast, Design Matters on Apple Podcasts
Follow Debbie on Twitter and Instagram
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