“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW!
Milton Glaser

My greatest weakness? 

I’d probably say that I’m kind of a workaholic. I know, it’s a classic “job interview” response, but in my case, it’s really true. I love what I do so much and I have so many goals and plans that I find it hard to turn off. It’s gotten even harder since I’ve become more of an entrepreneur. Finding that ever-elusive work/life balance is the struggle of almost every entrepreneur I know.

How do you stay creatively inspired?

I am a voracious consumer of inspiration. I gather imagery, ideas, and ideas from a huge range of sources. When I was Old Navy I traveled the world a couple times a year. I would go to Tokyo, Milan, Paris, London, Berlin, Antwerp shopping hundreds of stores looking for graphic inspiration for apparel. But I was also looking at the industrial design, print design, digital design, retail design, architecture, signage. I learned how to trend hunt. It was part of my job. That experience helped me grow a strong “observation muscle” that has served me in well throughout my career.

What advice do you have for creative professionals today?

I spent the majority of my career working for large agencies and corporations. I was well compensated and I had a ton of resources at my disposal: human resources, technical resources, financial resources. It was comfortable. But the work environment for designers is changing. There isn’t the same security in the workplace as there used to be. My strongest advice is to start building an independent personal brand that you own. Don’t put all your eggs in the basket of your employer. You can be dropped at any time.

Build a brand, a website, a social media presence, a content presence, a portfolio that is only yours. Statistics show that by 2025 over 50% of workers in the USA will be independent contractors. Think about that for a minute! They will be on their own, responsible for their own success, their own business development, their own client base, their own finances, their own marketing. My advice is if you haven’t started building the brand of you, then start now, even if you are employed. Especially if you are employed – because then you have a financial cushion as you are doing it. And it takes time and lots of courage and work.

What is your ultimate message besides ‘never giving up’?

My ultimate message is this: yes, become the absolute best designer you can. Learn to create beautiful and effective work. But it shouldn’t stop there. Be sure to learn the methodologies that make up true strategic design and branding. Pure design chops and aesthetics will only get you so far in the world today. Your strategic and business brain in combination with your design skills is what is going to give you a competitive advantage. Never stop learning. Learn finances, budgets, project planning, people management, social skills, business development, presentation skills, how to pitch clients. Don’t let yourself get pigeonholed as a one-trick-pony. Become bulletproof and recession-proof.
Philip VanDusen
And lastly, Have Fun! Everyone wants to be a designer. Working with designers is the best part of every clients day – and you are lucky enough to be that person. Enjoy it.
You can visit his website by clicking Here
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