The designer confessional

Monotype is a proud supporter of RGD Design Thinkers 2016 and we are having a lot of fun with the 2016 theme: Confessions.  From Creative Director to Junior Designer, it’s difficult to find a creative who doesn’t have a confessional career story, so we got in touch with some of our industry friends and a few speakers at the event and asked each of them to share their own design confession.

Owen Pritchard, Editor, It’s Nice That

“I find anything written in comic sans actually quite comic.”

Bryan Edmondson, Creative Director and Founder, SEA Design

“In our very early years, we pitched for a project for the hairdresser Trevor Sorbie. His team came into our studio and although it wasn’t a creative pitch we had made some initial observations. I became very excited about the brand having hardly ever stepped into a hairdressers! We got to the end of our presentation and we could hear a pin drop - whoops, what have I done wrong? The head of marketing who seemed to be leading the project then explained that we had used Sorbet (instead of Sorbie) throughout the whole presentation. I politely showed them the way out and never heard from them again. Sorry Trevor!”

David Michon, Freelance Design Writer

“I have a deep respect for IKEA as the most democratic and, in some respects, most innovative design brand.”

Simon Esterson, Art Director, Eye Magazine

“I used to design an art magazine. We asked a world-famous photographer to shoot a world-famous sculptor. I briefed a classic artist in sculpture studio shot, left a big space in the layout and got on with the rest of the layouts. The pictures eventually arrived on press day. I had my studio shot but there was also a wonderful close-up of the sculptor’s hand. In a rush, I used the shot I had briefed, but in reality the hand was much better. Lesson: There’s nothing like getting it really wrong to remind you to try and get it right next time.”

Karen Day, Editor at Large, Cool Hunting

“Back in 2011, I had dinner with Maarten Baas. We'd been chatting for a while, having a nice conversation about design, when at one point he brought up Gerrit Rietveld. Maybe it was hearing a Dutch person pronounce a Dutch name or I just completely blanked, but I couldn't work out who he was talking about. Finally Maarten says, “the Zig-Zag Chair?” and it dawned on me, but I could tell he thought I was a total idiot! Such a face palm moment.”

Erin Sarofsky, Executive Creative Director, Sarofsky

“It was my first week in the business, we had a spot going out and the end logo sequence was short a few frames. So I asked: “does the commercial need to be exactly 900 frames?” I got evil looks from everyone around the table. Turns out, yes. Yes it does. Very embarrassing moment for a very junior designer.”

Steven Heller, Co-Chair MFA Design

“A memorable moment as an art director came interviewing an illustrator (with portfolio) as I did almost every morning, and I saw page after page of work that she had traced by other illustrators that I had commissioned over the past two years. When, after seeing a dozen of these I asked her if she knew this was stealing, she replied without a hint of guilt:“I did them all myself.” I guess, in fact, she did copy them by herself. But still…?”

Stefan G. Bucher, Designer, Illustrator and Writer

Some of my earliest design jobs came by way of referral from a famous cartoonist while I was still in high school. I’d get hired based on his endorsement, without having to meet face to face. I’d just get phone calls out of the blue. This was key, because I was 16 at the time. Whenever I talked to clients they had no idea they were talking to a *very* junior creative. All my business was conducted by phone, and mailed camera-ready artwork. After two years of working with my main client at the time, he invited me to his wedding in Hamburg. “Wonderful! How do I get there by train?” He told me that it's much easier to drive. “Well… um, I don't have my driver's license.” “Oh, did you get a DUI?” “No, I'm... ah... I'm not old enough to take the test yet.” You have to be 18 in Germany, and I took my test late. “Are you kidding me?” “No.” “You're 18.” “Yessir.” “So when you started working for us you were... 16?!” “Yessir.” There was a very long silence, before he cracked up laughing. “Well, we've always loved your work, we love it today, and we'll love it tomorrow. That's what matters.” Best client ever!

Rod McDonald, Type Designer

“I confess that I don’t think of myself as a designer – I really think of myself as a tool maker – I make tools for designers. When I started out, as a lettering artist, we believed that part of our job was to make designers look good. But I confess I don’t recall anyone telling me just how good designers could make our work look instead.”

What's your confession?

We'd love to hear more of these confessions, so feel free to share on Twitter @Monotype. If you happen to be at Design Thinkers, you can share a story with our Confessional SnapChat filter. Or come by and confess in-person at our Power Up Chill Out Lounge, open to guests each day.