is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
I have some good news and some bad news. First, the good news.
Next Wednesday evening in New York City, I’m hosting a panel discussion called “Slow Motion Collisions: How Digital Design Careers Evolve” for AIGA/NY. I’ll be joined on stage by Justin Van Slembrouck of Digg, Jill Nussbaum of The Barbarian Group, Cemre Güngör of Branch, and Agnieszka Gasparska of Kiss Me I’m Polish.
This is a diverse group of extremely talented designers who have each produced some truly amazing work. But this will not be a portfolio show. That is, these folks will not be showing off their work and talking about how awesome their products are or how wonderful their clients are.
Rather, we’ll be having a lengthy group conversation about the highly varied career paths that designers undertake in order to build careers within a market that has been in perpetual flux since its inception. I’ve asked these folks to bring their war stories, their tales of chance encounters that led to unexpected career detours, their recollections of the earliest days of their careers, and their insights into what they would and would not do differently now. The hope is to unpack how they got to where they are today. It’s going to be really instructive and tons of fun.
The genesis for this panel is actually a project of mine that I started working on last fall, but that I haven’t talked about publicly until now. That project is a book about this very subject: how design careers evolve, how people get from the very beginning of the working phase of their lives, in their late teens or early twenties, and eventually find their way to successful careers in digital design. It features about a dozen interviews with designers who have “made it.” Some of them are veterans of the industry and others have less than a decade of experience; some of them are devotees of the startup industry and others are committed to client services. I’ve tried to cull a wide variety of design career paths together to make for a really interesting group. The folks appearing Wednesday night — Justin, Jill, Cemre and Agnieszka — are all interviewed in the book. The rest of the slate will be announced soon, but there are some wonderful people on the list, trust me.
Now for the bad news.
The book is still a few months away from completion, and as a result, I decided not to promote this Wednesday night’s event too far in advance, instead allowing AIGA/NY’s own well-oiled publicity machine to get the word out among their chapter members (another great reason to become a member). As a result, the event is pretty nearly sold out — which, really, I’m grateful for, because it shows that there’s interest in this topic even without me having to promote it. There are a handful of seats left though, so if you move fast, you might be able to pick one up at the AIGA/NY Web site. (If you manage to get a ticket, please say hello after the show!)
If you can’t get a ticket, or if geography would have prohibited you from attending anyway, then stay tuned to this blog for an announcement about the book very soon. More than three-quarters of the interviews have been recorded, transcribed and edited, and I just designed the book cover earlier this week, so it’s starting to really come together. I can’t wait to share it with everyone.+