debbie millman

Thursday, March 26, 2009

AIGA Y Conference, March 26-28!

Y Conference

I'll be at the 14th Annual San Diego AIGA Y Conference March 26-28!

From the conference website: The most important natural resource the world needs right now is creative energy; the force that develops ideas, discovers solutions and pushes business forward. During times of dramatic change, creative thinkers have always seized the opportunity to design the future; and now it's your moment to shine. Inject a shot of adrenaline to your life and your work at Y14. Be inspired! Feel empowered! Get energized! Don't miss out on this chance to recharge your creative energy!

Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Thursday, March 26, 2009 — March 28, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009


My first job after college paid me $6 an hour. I was doing what would now be considered “old school” paste-up and layout for a fledging cable magazine, and because I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t believe that I was actually getting paid to do this very special thing that I loved. I never wanted to leave the office; I was the first person in every morning, and I happily stayed way into the night. The evenings in the office were my favorite; I would busy myself drawing picture boxes with a rapidiograph, but this activity was simply a shroud to eavesdrop on the real designers sitting in the bullpen as they compared notes on the latest issue of the Soho News, or who was going to see Richard Hell at CBGBs that weekend. I knew I was out of my league and I knew they were better than me, but I projected the fantasies I had of what my life could be onto their lives and imagined that I was one of them, but still me, only better. What I coveted most was the easy confidence they had in their design ability; and while I worked on mine, I watched and waited and wished for a moment when they might accept me.

All that changed when Penelope DiRossi was hired. Penelope was tall and thin and she had a swingy brunette bob with lazy bangs that brushed the tips of her eyelashes. She had the coolest hosiery I had ever seen and sported leotards in fuschia and yellow and sky blue; some had stripes, some had geometric patterns, some had textures that allowed you to see through to her long, pale legs. As I was only 5’4”, Penelope towered over me, and when we met, I felt her squint trying to figure me out. In that instant, I knew she didn’t like me. Penelope was everything I wasn’t. She was lean and breezy, effortlessly chic and slightly haughty. And she was smart and sardonic and droll. I, on the other hand, was chubby and over-eager; I bit my nails and wore grey courderoy gaucho skirts with matching heels. Penelope had an Italian boyfriend she lived with in a swanky loft uptown. I lived in a fourth-floor tenement railroad flat and had to pass through my married roommates’ bedroom in order to get to mine.

Everyone liked Penelope and her arrival brought on a fiery jealousy I never felt before. I wanted to look like Penelope. I wanted to dress like Penelope and talk like Penelope. Looking back on it now, I realize I simply wanted to be Penelope.

Suddenly my $6 an hour job wasn’t enough. Becoming a good designer wasn’t enough. I needed to buy new clothes and new shoes and I needed a new haircut and new thighs and a new life. Everything about me was utterly awful and wretchedly wrong. I didn’t have enough money to buy the clothes I wanted but I bought them anyway and charged them to my brand new American Express card. But when I went to work in my new duds, I still felt shabby next to Penelope, and I knew that no matter what I did and how much I tried to change who I was, I would never be like Penelope. And I hated myself even more.

When I opened my American Express bill I felt nauseous. I didn’t have enough to pay it, so I asked my mother for a loan. She didn’t have much money either, but she gave me what she had after I swore I would repay her. And though I managed to scrape by, I never seemed to have as much as I needed. I wanted new things and I kept wanting more. I told myself that if I could just save $1,000 everything would be okay. I would pay my bills and buy a few pretty outfits and I would feel better about myself. I would be secure. I could feel safe. And with that, despite the fact that I still actually loved my job, I started thinking I that perhaps I should try to find another one that paid better.

And I did. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a job at a real estate development company in Westchester as their Director of Marketing. It was a big title with a big increase in salary—now I would be making $25,000 a year—and it came with a car. I took it. Everyone congratulated me on my good fortune and the potential of this prestigious new opportunity. But after the last day at my old design job I went straight home, and—fully dressed— climbed into bed, pulled the blankets over my head and cried.

I hated my new job for the entire time I was employed there. I hated the work and I hated real estate and I hated the drive back and forth every day and it took me a whole year to save the $1,000 I hoped would insure my future security. I thought about this money every day on the long, grey drive to and from work. But by time I reached my goal, I realized that I actually needed $2,000 to really feel safe. Or maybe I would need more! And just when I settled in on what it would take for me to feel impervious to life’s challenges, I looked out at that long, grey landscape and remembered there was a sexy pair of black suede boots at Bloomingdale’s that I had my eye on and I realized that I had to keep driving.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Design Matters Today with Gong Szeto 03.20.09

Gong's Patent

Joining me today on Design Matters with Debbie Millman is Gong Szeto.

Gong Szeto recently served as the Director of Design and Product Design at PEAK6 Investments, LP, a proprietary equity options trading firm, hedge fund, and new financial services business incubator based in Chicago. He recently designed OptionsHouse, a next-generation retail equity options brokerage, garnering top in category in design and usability in Barron's in 2008 and 2009. He was formerly Chief Creative Officer of publicly traded Rare Medium, Inc. and Principal at New York-based i/o 360 digital design, inc. Gong has lectured world-wide, and is a recipient of numerous awards from The Art Director's Club, American Center of Design, Net Tech, CASIE, and was included in I.D. Magazine's ID40 Top 40 Designers in the U.S. and Europe in 1996. He has work in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum.

Gomg is a career-entrepreneur, most recently launching the OptionsHouse retail brokerage with PEAK6, and co-developing the Moon Units Live/Work urban infill development in Austin, TX as Partner at Szeto Brothers Ventures, Inc. He holds a U.S. Patent in on-demand interactive advertising in digital television, co-invented with Sony Corporation of America. He has served on the National Boards of the AIGA and the Van Alen Institute for Public Architecture. He received a B.Arch ('91) in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and Planning, and has studied Business, Finance, Economics, and Intellectual Property Law at NYU Stern School of Management Extension School, and Harvard Business School Executive Education Program.

Gong lives in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Bonnie Schwartz, daughter Willow. Gong recently resigned his position at PEAK6 to found FURY, LLC, a completely bootstrapped platform upon which he will undertake with collaborators applying everything he knows in designing open tools and business models for gigantic migraine-inducing macro-world problems. He calls it "Open Source Design," what he believes is Design's next great frontier.

Design Matters airs live weekly on the Voice America Business Network, now the industry leader in Internet talk radio. The show was voted a "favorite podcast" on PSFK's Marketing Podcast survey and it was voted 9th out of over 300 entries for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s People’s Choice Award in 2007. The show is also available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 100,000 people download the show every month.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select
"Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following: as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My New Book!

Look Both Ways, my new book cover!

This is the cover of my forthcoming book, "Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design." The amazing Rodrigo Corral designed it. The book will be out in late October, 2009. It is a collection of fully illustrated essays created by me and Rodrigo and it all about the intersection of graphic design, love, life, behavior, rituals, brands, perceptions, music, art, and even physics. You can see it on Amazon here.
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