Tag Archives: Pratt

Is the age of fifty and over the end of a design career?

Recently, I got a save the date card from Pratt announcing a reunion for my graduating class of 1989. Reality sank in—it’s been 25 years since I graduated college. Holy fuck!

Andrew Bass Through the Years

I remember being that ambitious, bright-eyed design graduate looking to make my way into the design world with such energy and drive. My dream was to be an art director working at a big company, traveling for photo shoots, mingling at company parties, building a network of creative allies and maybe one day run my own studio all while doing something that I loved. Looking at the calendar, I’m reminded its around 20 days away from my 47th birthday. I’ve realized that many of the things I dreamt about as that young graduate have came true. But I also realize that some have yet to see the day of light. There’s still much I want to do and learn as a creative but there is an undercurrent that I am beginning to feel—it’s the age concern.

I AM APPROACHING 50.

In the past decade, I have seen the industry shift to a younger mindset for design leadership in all creative disciplines and discarding experienced creatives (i.e. older) as stagnant, out-of-touch and irrelevant. This weighs on my mind more recently now as I see the pages drop off the calendar. Reading Commarts.com, I came across a link talking about this same idea (click here). Ask yourself, at your place of work how many creatives are employed with you that are over 50? So many places value youth as being the only innovators, the only ones interested in new technologies, the only ones willing to learn or try new directions. That’s so short sighted as we turn into a country that is dismissing a large segment of our population.

At the story link points out, unless you are a studio owner or high-position creative, you don’t see many mid-level creative over a certain age given the same latitude and tools as a younger creative. Thanks to my parents’ genetics, most folks have no clue about my age and guess it at 10 to 12 years younger. I keep up-to-date with the latest trends and tech not because I need to but because I can’t exist without it. I equate it to air—you can’t breathe without it. Now add to the mix, the issue of race and gender. Fuck all you naysayers; this is a stone-cold hard fact of our society. If you are older, white and male, you will have it tough. If you are older and non-white (male or female), it just got unbelievably difficult.

Don’t believe me, can you name at least three designers over 50 who are white? Now, name three who are non-white, male or female and over 50? Bet you it’s easier to name three older white designers without much trouble but hit a wall the other way round. (Look at the gallery and see if you know their names.)

Three white over 50 designersThree non-white over 50 designers

Tony Gable (gable206.com), Crystal McKenzie (cminyc.com) and Archie Boston (archbosgd.com) all happen to run their own shops and have distinguished themselves in the industry although they don’t receive the same recognition as their counterparts above. How often do you hear their names in lectures and publications compared to Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and Kit Hinrichs? Be honest.

So, what are the options if you don’t run your own studio or a high-level creative? Going into academics in one possible avenue. Freelancing might be on the table but poses this question, if one won’t hire you as an older full-time employee why would they hire you as a freelancer? Changing career paths when older might be a consideration but that present a new series of obstacles that might bring you back to the original age problem. Many of us will face this dilemma in the coming years and I hope the tide strengthens for the value of experience when we do cross that road. You would tend to think, creativity has no age limit but sadly, business seems to have an expiration date on age.

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Soulight On: Lisa Hunt

spotlightlogo_LHSoulFul Design is proud
to present the series
Soulight On: a showcase featuring designers of color across different creative fields. My purpose is to shine light on fellow creatives that we don’t see in the mainstream design trades. My goal is for you to be inspired, be informed, be creative.

Lisa Hunt, former Creative Director of Essence magazine, launched her own design consultancy, Lisa Hunt Creative, and product line, Parasol New York, in 2009. With over a decade of experience in art directing photography in the categories of food, home, celebrity, fashion, beauty, health, fitness, and travel her work is vibrant, polished and fuses her well-honed knowledge of industry trends in publishing and branding across multiple platforms including web, tablet and mobile.

Her passion and special interest in ceramics, home textiles, furnishings and tabletop led her to create a line of home accessories, greeting cards and art prints for her company Parasol New York.

A former adjunct professor at New York University and a Pratt Institute alumnus, she currently resides in Brooklyn.

1. How did you first become interested in graphic design?

My mother was very instrumental in my interest in art and encouraged my creativity from an early age. She was a true creative spirit herself as she was always drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, decorating and gardening. She passed away very suddenly two years ago but her creative spirit lives on in my sisters and me. During my preteen years, my love for reading magazines and music sparked my interest in type, color, and photography. By high school, everything from album covers, book covers, fashion and packaging were things I found myself drawn to and became a bit obsessed with. As a junior, I took a commercial art class at a technical school—where they also taught farm machine repair—for two hours a day twice a week. We learned everything about color theory, composition and typography. That class and its teacher really paved the way for my career in graphic design.

Even after my experience in the art class, I didn’t understand that it was possible to make a living as a graphic designer. I applied to and was accepted to liberal arts colleges. My decision was to study journalism as a way to work in magazines. For financial reasons, I had to delay my enrollment in American University and worked for a year to save money. It was during that year that a friend told me about different art colleges and encouraged me to apply. I used my high school portfolio. Continue reading Soulight On: Lisa Hunt

So Why The Blog?

The idea behind this blog has been fermenting since I was in college. Here I was an eager, design student looking to learn all I can about my future industry. Semester after semester I’d pour over design annuals and magazines reading about the titans of design. But there was always something that really bothered me when looking through all this—I never saw anyone that quite looked like me. What I saw was page after page of designers that were male and white. Occasionally I saw some women but they too were white. The only folks of color I saw were the occasional Asian designer but they didn’t look like me.

All I keep saying to myself was, “Are there any black/brown folks in design?” One semester I did start coming across designers who looked like me but it was far and few. And it took a lot of looking. I noticed that not much was different years after graduating and now working. Most of the folks I encountered working were white and I was the sole creative of color. Basically I was used to the growing in school but was this really how I was going to live through my creative life. Not seeing, reading or hearing about any designers like me was extremely depressing. I mean it was the 90’s, right? What I discovered was that there were designers of color out there past and present…it’s just they weren’t talked about or given the same consideration as Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, April Greiman or Joe Duffy as examples. No disrepect to these legends but c’mon not one designer of color is ever put in the same conversation as them. Where are the legends that look like me? Continue reading So Why The Blog?