Life Lessons from AIGA 50 Judges

The entries are in, and the judging has begun! This year’s AIGA 50 judges bring a huge breadth of not just design expertise, but life experience. In a conversation with AIGA DC, they shared some of what they’ve learned with us.

Simplicity can be powerful

Christine Taylor, Creative Account Manager in Licensing at Hallmark Cards, sees real magic in “thoughtful simplicity.”

“If you can convey a very complex message, call to action or trigger an emotional response quickly through a clever twist of simplicity, then there is no question, it will hold power.”

And what’s the one thing that can take a design from average to wow, according to Stephanie Hill, a Senior Business Development Manager at HP? “White space!”

Don’t be afraid to learn new things

The ideas that influence design can come from unexpected places. Christine has studied instruments, DJed, traveled, volunteered, and all of it has influenced her design work. “My insatiable desire and willingness to learn new skills in a variety of creative ways has made me a better designer. … These experiences have all led me to think about design, processes, and problems differently in my design career and any project I work on. Aspiring to be a more well rounded creative, I think, makes you a better problem solver overall.”

Only working your right brain isn’t always enough, either. Stephanie took business courses like marketing and accounting for her MBA. “I had to learn business skills — a very different skill set. I did this consciously because I felt that my career would be limited if I did not, but there are many models out there [for success].”

The road to design has curves

Christine started out in psychology, and Ricardo brought his background in humanities to his career.

“I think psychology is a good foundation for any career, period. But design and psychology work beautifully together.” says Christine. “Perception and cognition were my absolute favorite psych classes, and to see the way the brain perceives and processes information is just so fascinating to me.”

“Actually working in the field gave me so much more empathy as an individual. You learn so much more about people around you and what drives and motivates them not only independently, but also together by a natural desire to connect through commonalities, not just retreat from differences. It more than influences my career, it’s makes a huge impact on my life daily.”

“I do not have a formal design academic background,” added Ricardo Salema, Executive Creative Director at Isobar. “I … had a strong humanities background, and mostly I learned our craft in the field. I think this gave me the ability to see things from a slightly different perspective. It allowed me to find design positions in what at the time seemed like unlikely places such as technology and consulting firms … [and] given where the industry has gone today, I’d say it was a happy accident.”

Design is greater than the individual

No matter where your career takes you, the creative community will always support you. Though Stephanie started her career as an art director with the Village Voice, she has moved away from design and into a series of project management, consulting and sales roles. “Becoming part of and contributing to the design community has given me a chance to rediscover my roots.”

Ricardo relishes the chance to see diverse teams come together to solve big problems.

“The most exciting thing for me about design is the coming together of multiple skills, disciplines and people to work on solutions together … We are literally imagining a future not yet realized.”

Want to learn more about our judges? Come meet them at the AIGA 50 celebration happy hour on March 8. Space is limited, so register today.

By Puneet Kaur and Claire Blaustein
Published March 6, 2018