Review: How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

I recently finished Adrian Shaughnessy’s book How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul. I can’t recommend it enough to any aspiring designer, especially those of us in or just out of school. Previously the head of the design studio Intro, Adrian opens up and provides a savory array of real-world, down-to-earth advice on the ins and outs of daily life as a designer. I also recently read Debbie Millman’s How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, and while reading interviews with the likes of Paula Scher, Michael Bierut, and Milton Glaser provided something of an energy shot to my creative juices, Adrian’s book is both inspirational and practical.

Adrian paints a realistic picture of what life is like in a design studio, an in-house department, or going solo as a freelancer, giving a little shot of reality to the design student who wanders from a creative stupor in a studio classroom to face the working world. He tackles many of the business issues we design folks would like to forget about, like finding an accountant, finding a lawyer and taking care of legal issues. He describes having an interview at a design firm, and gives advice such as how to package and present your portfolio. He explores in the importance of good relationships within a design firm, how studio heads can find and take care of good designers, and ways to foster a creative environment.

In short, it’s a beautiful book, and immensely helpful. Don’t pass it up.

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Stories of the King

So I discovered the Rabbit Room, home to singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson and friends, and subscribed to the podcast. And I listened, captivated, by Pastor Russ Ramsey speak on the passion week of Christ. Then I visited Oak Hills Presbyterian’s site for more, albeit old, sermons. There isn’t a ton there, but what is there, from what I’ve heard, is well worth checking out. Russ has a down-to-earth authenticity coupled with passion for God and the ability of a great storyteller. Especially listen to the passion week series, and let it change you.

Incidentally, Andrew’s new release Appendix C: Live With the Captains Courageous is amazing, beautiful Christian music, well worth a few bucks. We need more Christian musicians like this.

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A Calvinistic Tightrope

Today is the 500th anniversary of John Calvin‘s birth. In many Christian circles, it’s quite the celebration. Books on Calvin have been multiplying as of late, as many seek to capitalize on this theological bandwagon.

Though some label Calvin’s teachings as heretical (see article, “Election and Free Will”), many today have come to laud him as the great recoverer of the doctrines of God’s sovereignty in salvation. To me, it’s definitely good to see a recovery of Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty and election, and we can learn much from him. In a description of a new biography on Calvin, John Piper calls him the most influential theologian of the last 500 years. Ligonier even themed their entire recent catalogue around Calvin. While I’m not at all arguing against the influence of Calvin, I’m calling for caution as many discover the truths this hero of faith proclaimed. Calvin’s doctrine was rich, and God-centered. But Calvin was merely a man, a fellow disciple of Jesus Christ, and his life was lived to point us to him. Many fellow reformed believers would heartily agree, but when we walk around proudly sporting our John Calvin threads, shoulders back, haughtily ripping those who don’t share our views, how are we a picture of Christ? Paul warned us of division resulting from labeling ourselves by our favorite teachers in I Corinthians 1:10-17. I think if we mainly label ourselves as “Calvinists” it can easily cause a superiority complex, as well as further the danger of letting Calvin’s teaching on election become the sum total of our Christian focus when the Gospel only begins there. We must be careful when glorying in God’s election that we don’t ignore the simple call to man’s responsibility.

While I see the benefits of using a label such as “Calvinist” to explain our theological positions, I think it’s better to say we are disciples of Jesus Christ, and we agree with John Calvin’s theological understandings. In the end, be a kinder Calvinist.

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Fear This!

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

— Ronald Reagan

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A Patriot Straggler

It’s July 4th. While I do feel a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who have laid down their lives for this country, who paid the price of freedom, I grieve when I see our government throwing those freedoms into the fan without a care. There aren’t many patriots left. As the media continues to spew hate and attempts to silence any who dare challenge a socialistic agenda, there are few men left who are willing to stand, endure the attacks, and not compromise.

Few men, maybe, but at least a few women.

Sarah Palin’s recent speech announcing her departure from the office of governor stirred a bit of hope back into my soul. Can anyone who is capable of rational thought watch the dignity, character, and selflessness of this woman and not conclude that her ideals and potential are vastly beyond that of the current administration? Her astounding list of accomplishments reinforces her lofty words on cutting government waste for the good of the people. Quite the opposite for our first family who demand that we commoners lower our standard of living for the good of the whole, yet completely ignore their own advice. Mrs. Palin, keep your chin up. And please, please run for 2012.

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Speeding Summer

A quick one, here. I am alive, and amazingly done with half of my college career. God has been good, and helped me over a lot of hurdles I never thought I would’ve gotten through. I’ve learned a ton about God, art and design, life, people, and surviving on hospital food while hacking one’s lungs out one’s throat (it’s actually pretty good—I discovered there that I enjoy fried eggs). The road looks rough and long starting out, yet looking back it seems like you began only yesterday. I guess a word of wisdom from the year is the best way to grow and learn and is not to step out hesitantly but to hit the ground running. I mean, eventually, you’ll pass out, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now the summer’s blazing by, I’m hanging out with some good ol’ friends, some good reading and listening in (of which I’ll write shortly), and getting information gushed at my brain like a firehose at a teacup at my summer job. A good summer.

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Helvetica on PBS

Typographers, rejoice. Helvetica, Gary Hustwit’s celebrated documentary, will be showing in PBS’s Independent Lens series tomorrow, January 6th. Check the PBS mini-site for local listings.

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Filed under Design, Typography