As children we’re taught to seek advice from our elders, yet in a world that’s changing so rapidly, the old rules often do not apply. If we want to create truly original products and services, we must be skeptical of conventional wisdom. Not surprisingly, numerous creative entrepreneurs that Behance has interviewed over the years attribute their greatest achievements to having spurned the tried-and-true approach.
Revered graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, for instance, attributes his success to simply having the guts to see what others are doing, and do otherwise. After training under legendary designer Tibor Kalman at M&Co, Sagmeister set up his own design studio and made the unorthodox decision to keep it very small. “The conventional wisdom in our business is that you have to grow and keep moving to survive,” says Sagmeister. “We never grew, always stayed tiny, and it has served us very well over the years, allowing us to pick and choose projects, and keep our financial independence from our clients."
This defiance didn’t only impact Sagmeister’s business plan, however, it governed the studio’s entire aesthetic. He elaborates, “In the early ‘90s, when the modernism revival started and many designers opted for cold, slick design, it seemed a natural reaction for us to go the other way. My feeling was that so many viewers are left untouched by those machine-like visuals out there; that a more human approach seemed a smart alternative.” Of course, it was an uphill battle for Sagmeister and company at first, but he has ultimately emerged as one of the most respected designers of his generation.
Navigating uncharted waters can be downright uncomfortable – not to mention risky – but it’s the only way to discover truly new territory.
This post by J.K. Glei is based on research by the Behance team, which runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List.