Editor’s note: An updated version of this interview, including new images and work, is featured in print in The Great Discontent, Issue One, available in our online shop.
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Since you do a lot of different things, I’ll start by asking you what you’re currently doing.
I’ve always done a lot of different things, which is what I like. I’m currently President of the design division at Sterling Brands, Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, and I host the design podcast, Design Matters.
When do you sleep?
People always ask me this! Believe it or not, I’m a big sleeper and I like to get a minimum of seven hours a night. I think high-energy people need a lot of sleep to stay high-energy.
Would you describe your path to doing all the things you’re doing now? You can go as far back as you’d like.
That’s 30 years! Are you really sure you want to hear the whole story?
Of course. We want to give our readers a sense of how you got to where you are now.
Okay, get comfortable. I graduated college in 1983; this is my thirtieth year as a professional practitioner of design. My first ten years after college were experiments in rejection and despair. I knew that I wanted to do something special but, frankly, I didn’t have the guts to do anything special. When I graduated, I didn’t feel confident enough, optimistic enough, or hopeful enough to believe that I could get what I really wanted. I wasn’t living what I would consider to be my highest self—in fact, I was probably living my most fearful self.
My first job was creating rudimentary paste-up and layouts for a cable magazine—fairly old school stuff. After that, I worked as a designer for a real estate company, which was the worst job I’ve had in my career. I quit in despair after a year and started my own little business with a partner. This might have seemed like a fearless thing to do, but I wouldn’t say that the work we were doing warranted that description. It was the mid to late 1980s and back then, there was a big, powerful design scene happening in New York. I felt like I wasn’t contributing anything meaningful and was in awe of designers who I thought were indeed making a difference: Tibor Kalman, Emily Oberman, Steven Doyle, Bill Drenttel, and the folks at firms such as Doublespace and Manhattan Design. My work at the time felt very feeble in comparison.
Then I got divorced, quit my job, and moved out of my apartment—all within a few months of each other. I was homeless, unemployed, and turning 30, which was difficult, but I slowly started to put the pieces of my life back together.
Shortly thereafter, I decided that I wanted to work for Frankfurt Balkind, the best design firm in the country at that time. Through a friend, I got an interview and when I showed Aubrey Balkind my portfolio, he said he’d hire me, but not as a designer—he didn’t think my work was good enough. And this was all the work I had created in my entire career thus far! But I really wanted to work there, so I took the job he offered me—a job in marketing.
“My whole life has been one thing leading to another, leading to another, and then another. It has been completely circuitous and mostly unplanned.”
Richard Mouw packs a lot of wisdom into a few dozen small packages. Writing in an easygoing, conversational style, Mouw here considers how the outward life of a Christian should reflect the inner workings of the Spirit. Including beliefnet.com columns of Mouw's never before collected in book form, these pieces are alternately amusing, touching, and poignant. From the digniRichard Mouw packs a lot of wisdom into a few dozen small packages. Writing in an easygoing, conversational style, Mouw here considers how the outward life of a Christian should reflect the inner workings of the Spirit. Including beliefnet.com columns of Mouw's never before collected in book form, these pieces are alternately amusing, touching, and poignant. From the dignity of chickens to a weeping Savior, Mouw shows how an extraordinary God meets us in everyday life....more
Published March 2nd 2007 by Eerdmans (first published March 1st 2006)