New York-based designer ad ADC Member Justin Négard decided to take the wisdom he has collected over the years and put it between two beautifully designed covers. The result is On Design, a pocket-sized quick guide for designers, both established and aspiring.
We caught up with Justin to chat about the book, and what lead him to create it.
They often say “write about what you know,” so how did you get to know what you know? How did your career path as a designer lead you to this?
My career began differently than many. I did not receive a formal design education, and instead built my business as a freelance designer by literally walking door-to-door along the streets of Los Angeles and New York. I sold my design skills to local shops, read every book and article that I could find, and attended lectures as often as possible. I simply had to teach myself as I went along.
Before long, a real career began to emerge. One client became two, two became five, five became many. The size of the clients grew as well, and the exposure increased along with it. Humbly, I even received some wonderful recognitions and awards which really helped build my confidence.
I spent an equally laborious amount of time learning the business of design. I realized that quality design is equally dependent on one’s ability to deal with clients, sell the idea, and manage one’s company. A strong focus had to be placed on this aspect of the work as well.
What made you want to distill all of that experience into book-form?
I wanted to encourage all serious designers to have confidence in their work, to find their voices, and to constantly be reevaluating their understanding of design. There are so many great and talented designers out there, and it breaks my heart to see their abilities undervalued by a client, a director, or themselves directly.
We should all constantly be learning because we all have room to grow. At the same time, we should also be proud of our accomplishments and abilities. It takes both ego and humility to move forward.
On Design is a result of these many years of work and education. This book does not offer all answers to all people, but contains solid advice on many of the real-world challenges a designer may face. After all, it’s one thing to understand color theory in a book, but it’s something else to apply it to the face of someone’s business.
What was the best part of creating the book?
I truly enjoyed every part of the process in creating this book. The writing portion served as a bit of design therapy for myself, helping me to frame my thoughts and beliefs in an organized, tangible way. Meanwhile, the designer in me loved creating the visuals and layout for every page. Each image in the book has a direct association with a chapter. Sometimes the connection is clear and other times it’s a bit more abstract.
Who do you envision this book is meant for, and what do you hope they get out of it?
Everyone can get something out of this book. Students will have a better understanding of the foundations of design and how the business actually works outside the classroom. Actively working designers will also learn new things while also reevaluating certain aspects of their own career. All people will be forced to consider, not only their style and execution, but their courage as well.”
I envisioned On Design to be read in short bursts on a train or during a lunch break. It’s easy to carry, and the chapters move along quickly. The goal was for this book to be a call to action rather than an endless encyclopedia. It’s very informative, beautiful, and fun. I hope everyone agrees!
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