03.24.16
Bonnie Siegler | Dear Bonnie

Rapid Fire

Welcome to Rapid Fire Week at Dear Bonnie—keep the great questions coming!

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Dear Bonnie,

What are your thoughts on taking a break from design after graduation to travel and try odd jobs?
Do it! There’s actually a name for it. It’s called a Wanderjahr (from the German “journeyman’s year”), and while it doesn’t have to be a year, it’s a great way to give yourself the big picture while enriching your understanding of the human experience outside of the microcosm of academic life. Meet interesting people who don’t know what InDesign is. See places that don’t have marketing departments. Meet people who think differently. Think about the world at large and your role in it. Work in a place that makes you happy for a little while, because you’re young and you can. It’s the perfect time in your life to get some outside perspective. Soak up as many experiences as  you can. It will make you a more informed and interesting person. Then, go start your career. 

What makes a new designer’s portfolio really stand out?
Portfolios stand out when they reveal something special and unique about the designer. Since we so often look at a portfolio before meeting a designer, it’s notable when you get an actual sense of who the human being is, behind the school projects. I would also recommend including work that wasn’t assigned by a boss or a teacher; something that helps us understand who you are beyond the graphic design. 

Have you always known you wanted to be a designer?
Yep. I didn’t know what it was called or that it could be a job, but I was born this way.

Who do you think is the most overrated designer today?
If someone can be considered overrated, it implies that they are successful, but the quality of the work is not equal to the amount of recognition. Since design is where art meets commerce, being overrated also implies they have done tons of work that is very visible, so I would admire them for what they have achieved, even if i don’t personally “like” the work.

How much of a threat is our industry in with these dumb down shops that do brand identity and print collateral out of a can for super cheap?
There is no threat. There will always be someone willing to do it for less. Don’t sweat it. You might even think of them as being good for business because it will make people realize the value in good design (which they won’t get from one of those sites). People who think that’s a good way to go would never be your client anyway.  


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Bonnie Siegler Bonnie Siegler is an award-winning graphic designer. She is the founder of Eight and a Half, a multidisciplinary design studio based in New York, and before that, was the co-founder of Number Seventeen. She got her degree at Carnegie Mellon University, has taught in the graduate design programs at Yale University, RISD, and the School of Visual Arts and was the 2014 Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts at the University of Hartford.

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