Debbie tells us about teaching, her philosophy on having time versus making time, and why creative making makes her happy.
Meet this weekâ€™s guest: Debbie Millman! Debbie is a writer, educator, artist, brand consultant and host of the radio show Design Matters. As a writer, she is the author of 6 books, including Look Both Ways, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, and How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer. Debbie is also the Chief Marketing Officer at Sterling Brands, Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at School of Visual Arts, and Editorial and Creative Director at Print Magazine. Recently, she joined the Board of Directors at Type Directors Club. Talk about an impressive resume!
Debbie gave a lot of thought to the question â€œWhat makes you happy?â€. To put it most simply, she is happiest making things. Podcasts, lesson plans for her students, presentations, art or writingâ€”if she is being creative, she feels happy. Debbie tells us making things helps her feel connected to living, explaining it is something that is bigger than her, giving her purpose and is ultimately fulfilling.
As far back as she can remember, Debbie has loved to make things! She made dolls, clothes for her dolls, her own clothes, perfume, magazines and even a made up friend, who she played until her little brother came along. Playing school with her brother, Debbie discovered roll calling during class made her happy; to this day, she feels a sense of exuberance when checking to see whoâ€™s present in her undergraduate classes.
She hasnâ€™t always had the ability to create things steadily. Debbie tells us there were two decades she did not create a thing with the exception of her professional career as a branding consultant. Ultimately, this is what led her to start Design Matters. She explains she felt like she was dying without any type of creative outlet. Enter a project that was a labor of love, made for the sheer purpose of being creative. This along with an intensive class she took with Milton Glaser in the summer of 2005 helped her tune back into many different types of creative endeavors all at once.
“We are all born with the ability to imagine. And if we can imagine, we can create.”
Debbie Millman on @thehappypodcast
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Debbie opened up to us about a period of depression she recently experienced following the sudden loss of her father, moving into a new home and experiencing an unexpected break up. The one common thing she has used to help her get through all of these things is timeâ€”to cry, to see a therapist, to grieve, but most importantly, to simply pass. She shares she has learned that the way she is feeling at any particular moment in time about anything is not how she is going to feel for the rest of her life. Now, she lets time pass before she sets upon how she feels.
Debbie found that the muse and inspiration to create things was more present during these difficult moments. Itâ€™s not that she felt more creative during these times, but more motivated as there was more that needed to come out. This is work we may eventually get to see with time…but not before itâ€™s edited.
Debbie tells us she is a firm believer in receiving feedback on her work from people she trusts. In fact, she refers to receiving feedback as a gift and shares this notion with her students. She tells them to never let their ego get in the way of receiving constructive criticism.
We asked Debbie to paint the picture of her ideal situation to create whatever she wanted, however she wanted, and she described it to us perfectly. It would be warm and sunny every single day. Her dogs would be healthy. She would never run out of art supplies and she would make things all day, podcasts included. And we canâ€™t forget she would eat lots of wonderful food and drink lots of wonderful wine.
Debbie gets a lot of joy helping and inspiring others to make things. The biggest thing being helping her students start their careers without compromise. She wants them to understand that anything is possible when you believe that you can. A lot of this comes from sharing her own experiences and influences with them.
Links / Read / See / Hear
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
RocÃo CastaÃ±eda for ongoing support; follow RocÃo on instagram.