In the Spotlight

In the Spotlight

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Travel & Leisure Creative Director Emily Crawford visits the mothership for today’s Design Spotlight interview by Greg Lindsay. Crawford on the benefits of a formal design education:

I think it’s ultimately more of a meritocracy. There seem to be more people who have become very successful as art directors or designers who don’t have formal training for it. If they happen to be talented and visually astute, it doesn’t matter if they went to law school.
If anything, having that diversity in their background is a bit of an asset. The higher up you get in a magazine as a designer, the more involved you really are in the creation of the editorial. You’re not just looking at making things pretty and solving visual problems – you’re contributing to the ideas behind the stories. The people who are most successful in the field are able to straddle those things. I’m kind of jealous of people who went to arts school and knew early on what they wanted to do, because I fantasized early on in my career about working on these utopian projects without limitations and really having fun. At the same time, I’ve heard that art school can actually be quite limiting because you don’t get as solid an education as you would at a liberal arts school.

I am self-taught in a variety of disciplines. Had I ever worked at a gallery before I opened my own? No. Art History degree? No. My previous career in internet land was only informed by my college education in writing. (With a poetry concentration, at that.) So, I have my own reasons for believing in the School of Life approach.

I’ve worked with great designers, some self-taught and some designers who have had rigorous design educations. There are differences, of course, but I can’t say I absolutely prefer one to the other. It does strike me that Emily’s quote above can be interpreted as fighting words, or at the very least as the departure point for a very vigorous debate. Make me giddy and weigh in: Send your opinions to jen AT unbeige DOT com.