October 13, 2010
Being talented is hard work
I'm a long-time fan of designer Von Glitschka so, when he was scheduled to speak nearby, both my sons (Jeff and Rob — also designers) gave me a heads up. Last night we sat in on his presentation sponsored by the Richmond AIGA.
The message I came away with is this: Being talented is hard work. By that I mean Glitschka is clearly gifted — he's one of those designers whose work looks near-effortless. His ideas are clever and the execution of his layouts and illustrations are crisp and tight.
But I think the tendency is to look at "talent" (his and that of others) as some sort of magic sixth-sense, something that is bestowed on a few, not something that can be learned or earned. Glitschka's message reveals something quite different.
He tells, for example, about the two-foot stack of notebooks he keeps that catalog his doodles of the last twenty years. And he talks at length about the importance of learning about marketing, about the many tools and techniques he uses to spark ideas, and the importance of growing intellectually through reading, travel, and study.
He must have referred to at least five people he interviewed to prepare his presentation and did not even mention the time or energy it must have taken to write, design, and produce the 250-plus slides he uses in this one presentation.
To me, he is proof of the fact that "talent" takes hard work, that "simple" is complex, and that great design requires great dedication. If you think, "I don't have what it takes" — you're wrong. Being a solid designer takes passion, practice, tenacity, commitment, leadership, and lots of study. If you are willing to pursue it, you'll find a place and an audience that values what you do. If you want to write that off as talent, so be it.