10 Suggestions for Success with Type – and Life!

The time has come to say adieu to my monthly TypeTalk column. That doesn’t mean this is the absolute end, but I will transition from being a regular columnist (which I have been for over 15 years) to a guest contributor whenever I am excited about a topic that I can’t help but not write about. So before I take leave for a while, I want to leave my faithful audience with a few final thoughts on type, design, and life in general. So here goes in no particular order…

1. Always look at the big picture. Don’t get caught up in the details until you have a broad view solution that meets all the objectives.

2. Design should first and foremost solve the client’s problem, not express your own creative impulses at the expense of the desired objective. The goal of a professional solution should not be to win a design competition (unless that happens organically), but to solve a problem, whether it is to announce an event, promote a product or person, inform or entertain.

3. Know your audience. If you don’t know who you are designing for, it is improbable you will come up with an appropriate solution. This includes knowing their personal demographics as well as their digital technology.

4. Don’t let anyone limit your dreams and aspirations, whether it be family, friends, or professionals. In my early years, I was told by more than one person that the design world (especially in NYC!) was very competitive, and the odds were against my ever succeeding. I’d like to think I proved them wrong!

5. Play to your strengths, not your ego, ungrounded fantasies, or someone else’s ideas of what you should focus on or become.

6. Proofread everything before it becomes final, no matter if it be print or digital. OK, so it might not be part of your job description, but the end product is a reflection on everyone who participates in its making. This includes resumes, portfolios, and (IMHO) even emails and some texts.

7. Be a team player. Don’t let your ambition, jealousy or insecurities cut you off from being a part of the whole process. Remain open and positive, and learn as much as you can. There is always room for additional knowledge and improvement!

8. Welcome comments and criticism without defensiveness. This can be a tough one! Whether you agree or not, listen and then give it some thought. Think before you speak – or don’t speak at all until you have a positive or constructive response. Collaboration will frequently improve a solution if you are open to it.

9. Seek out teachers and mentors and don’t work in a vacuum. This is one of the most important things you can do to become the best that you can. Join creative groups and organizations, and attend conferences to network and connect with those whom you can learn from.

10. But most of all, enjoy yourself and have fun at what you are doing. And if that isn’t the case at this moment, let that be one of your goals.

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Posted on: January 24, 2020

Ilene Strizver

Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer, writer and educator specializing in all aspects of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition, has received numerous accolades from the type and design community.

5 Comments on 10 Suggestions for Success with Type – and Life!

  1. Thank you so much for your rich insights and years of teaching, Ilene! I love these words of wisdom.

  2. Thanks for all the wisdom over the years. For me your previous column on Spencerian Script sums it all up.

  3. Alan Gilbertson

    January 30, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for so many lively insights and years of sage commentary on all things typogeekical. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes to see plenty of guest columns that you just can’t NOT write, so please feel free to get excited about all kinds of stuff!

  4. Glad you’re not leaving for good. Looking forward to more articles in the future.

  5. I always enjoy your writing. Best wishes in whatever you’re doing and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for future articles.

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