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10 things I’ve learned from interviewing over 50 creatives

Written by Post-Grad Community
Published date 11 February 2020

By Justyna Green, MA Illustration student at Camberwell College of Arts


I’m a MA Illustration Yr 1 student, exploring illustration as a meditative practice, which supports mental health. I’m also a London College of Communication alumni, having studied PR & Media Studies there a decade ago now!

Whilst I’m now on a new creative path, linked to my current work in design industry is the On Design podcast, which I have been hosting for over a year now.

I started the On Design podcast in late 2018, out of the sheer curiosity of wanting to get into the minds of some of the most inspiring people I have met in the past decade working in design industry.

Here I share with you top ten things I’ve learned from a variety of creatives, ranging from illustrators and designers to architects and editors:

photo of woman on a sofa
Harriet Fitch Little, Editor of Kinfolk - Justyna Green podcast Series 'On Design'
1. Harriet Fitch Little, editor of Kinfolk

Harriet and her team work on the forthcoming issues of Kinfolk magazine at least six months in advance. This means looking for content and featuring people who have something to say beyond the news cycle. Whilst it could be seen as a disadvantage by some, with the magazine not being in line with the current trends and topics, Harriet sees it as an advantage, mentioning that it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and talk about things everybody is talking about. The advice? Be in it for the long-term – keep doing what you’ve committed to, and you’ll get noticed.

photo of man standing amongst plants
Michael Anastassiades, Lighting Designer - Justyna Green podcast Series 'On Design'
2. Michael Anastassiades, Lighting Designer

Don’t believe in a quick road to success. Michael Anastassiades is one of the world’s most renowned lighting designers, but it was only when in his 40s that 100 per cent of his income came from design. Until then he was actually teaching at Camberwell College of Art and worked as a yoga teacher part-time to supplement his design work.

woman sitting on a arm chair next to coffee table
Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director of COS
3. Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director of COS

In the age of Instagram, it’s easy to be swept away by the aesthetics it champions and the beauty of the image. But there’s more to art and design. At COS, Karin champions focus on materiality, quality, detailing, precise finishing and careful thought that goes into production of each garment. Whilst it might not be Instagrammable, it will make your creative output stand the test of time.

man sitting on chair next to book case
John Booth, multi-disciplinary Artist - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
4. John Booth, Designer and Artist

John doesn’t want to be defined or define as an artist, a designer or a creative. He wants to be open to opportunities and his creativity, applying himself equally to drawing, painting and ceramics. However, he does want to compartmentalise – he does draw the line between what he does purely for pleasure, which ones he fosters as a design career and which are more commercially-led. That helps him to divide his focus when needed and organise his workloads accordingly.

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Matt Alagiah, Editor of It's Nice That - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
5. Matt Alagiah, Editor of It’s Nice That

In our conversation Matt shares with me that one of the key reasons creatives don’t get featured on It’s Nice That is because they haven’t found their voice. He points out that as a visual art creative we have an opportunity to stand for something – an idea, a cause or simple an emotion, and use our visual tools to communicate that.

two men in matching lilac outfits sitting on lilac ercol chairs
Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, Interior Designers - 2LG Studio - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
6. 2LG Studio, Interior Designers

It’s ok to be kind and to do your own thing. Jordan and Russell of 2LG Studio have come to the world of interior design as the outsiders. Both ex West End actors with a love of interiors, they’ve come off the TV screens of the Great Interior Design Challenge onto our social media feeds, magazines and websites with their mantra of ‘Making Living Lovely’. And whilst they understand they might not be to everyone’s taste and they’ve seen the cut-throat side of the interiors industry, they insist of being open, kind and collaborative, as that’s what they believe in. So the lesson here is to stick to your guns – you do you, always!

two women wearing white tops and black cardigans
Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, Founders of Patternity - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
7. Patternity, Design Studio

Trust your method, even if it might feel like madness. Anna and Grace of Patternity are firm believers in our connection to nature through patterns – whether these are visual patterns found in nature, patterns of our behavior, or the circularity of the changing seasons. That means finding inspiration everywhere – not only in art galleries and museums, but in beach pebbles, smashed up pieces of stone, broken glass reflecting London skyline. If that’s what makes you feel something, if that makes you tick, lean into it and trust your method.

lady sitting on a graphic coloured sofa with black and white backdrop
Camille Walala, Artist and Designer - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
8. Camille Walala, Designer and Artist

It’s ok to want more. Camille Walala was living just off the Broadway Market in East London, selling her cushions and prints in a local boutique shop, but she knew she wanted more – and she allowed herself to do more. Starting with her patterned graffiti art popping up alongside the canal overnight, she’s forged her career with bravery and ambition, now designing for hotels across the globe and working with the likes of LEGO.

photo of man in his 40s wearing white shirt and a blazer
Marcus Fairs, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dezeen - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
9. Marcus Fairs, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dezeen

It’s never too late to get started and you can turn adversities into positive new openings. Marcus was let go of his job as the editor of architecture and design magazine ICON as he was turning 40. Loss of the job prompted Marcus to start blogging about architecture – something considered in 2012 very niche. Now his website dezeen.com is the world’s most popular architecture and design magazine with three million monthly viewers.

man wearing graphic illustrated shirt and glasses
Adam Nathaniel Furman, Architecture Commentator and Designer - Justyna Green podcast series 'On Design'
10. Adam Nathaniel Furman

Surround yourself with what inspires you! Lover of maximalism, Adam fills his London home with objects which he loves – whether they make him happy, thoughtful or simply have a curious shape. Surrounding yourself with inspiration means that even subconsciously you always remain open to new ideas, fostering daily creativity. Adam points out that they also can help us ‘get out of our heads’ and simply focus on something else than our personal creative overload.

I hope you found these lessons useful! You can listen to the On Design podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and everywhere else and you can also find out more about me at www.justynagreen.com and on Instagram @justynagreen.

In the forthcoming episodes of the podcast you will hear interviews with the editor of Varoom  magazine and House of Illustration’s curator Olivia Ahmad, Eliza Williams who’s the editor of Creative Review, Jon Cockley – the co-founder of illustration agency Handsome Frank as well as the art directors for The Guardian and WIRED magazines and the Chief Creative Officer of the meditation app Headspace.

Visit Justyna Green's website


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