One week after I graduated from college in Ohio, I moved to New York with my new wife Dorothy and began working as a design assistant at Vignelli Associates. It was 1980, and I was the lowest employee on the totem pole. Working in a design office in those days was different. I never touched a computer. As I recall, the office didn’t even have a computer. In fact, we didn’t have a fax machine.
I spent most of my days putting thinner in rubber cement and taping tissue paper over mechanical boards. Every once in a while I would get to do a mechanical myself, usually following the direction of one of the more experienced designers. I was working in New York City for a designer I idolized and I was the happiest person on earth. It so happened that we got an apartment that was three blocks-literally, a 135 second walk-from the Vignelli office. Work started at 9:30 a.m. I usually got up at around five minutes to 9 and still had time to pick up a doughnut on my way in.
Dorothy, on the other hand, had a corporate job downtown, in the World Trade Center to be precise. She had to wake up before 6 to be at work at 8. I literally slept three hours later than her every morning. Every night Dorothy would go to bed at around 10 p.m. I was still wide awake, and our apartment was so small it drove me crazy. I had a key to the office. So I got in the habit of tucking my wife in every night and going back to work to start another shift, which often would last from 10 to 3 in the morning.
This went on for four years. Anything I’ve achieved in my career I credit today to those four years. I loved working late at night. I worked on office stuff, and I worked on personal projects. I played music really loud and drank Mountain Dew. I would design anything: invitations for my friends’ parties, packaging for mix tapes, one-of-a-kind birthday cards, and freebies for non-profits.
When Massimo Vignelli noticed I had extra time during the day, he started giving me extra work. Things that would have taken two days only took one, thanks to the night shift. The more work I did, the faster I got, and the better I got. It never occurred to me to ask for overtime. 25 years later, nearing 50 with three kids (and the same wife), I can’t tell you the last time I was awake at 3 in the morning, intentionally, at least. So my advice to anyone starting a career as a designer? Stay up late while you can. It pays off.
Partner, Pentagram Design New York
Thanks for sharing, Sampoilmari.
sampoilmari replied to your post: teaforonesvp replied to your quote: I urge you to…
it is okay because Vonnegut wrote about Ice 9. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ic…
Thanks for keeping it real for me, Paul.
sampoilmari replied to your photo: I just love the smattering of color (Taken with…
is it permanent?
I imagine that it’ll come out after a few washes, which is why I just want to frame it right now.
sampoilmari replied to your audio post: Penelope’s Theme (The Brothers Bloom) - Nathan…
i saw this song recently used on a mcdonalds ad and was livid. then realised like 3 other people would notice.
YES! I was watching the Oscars and heard the song. It drove me mad because I recognized it from a movie, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until someone on Twitter ranted about it (there was definitely more than 3 people who noticed. scores more — most angry — if that gives you any comfort).
I’m indifferent to its use in the McDonald’s ad. If anything, it made the ad even more charming. Though I must admit, it didn’t drive me to go out and buy McDonalds; it just drove me back to the film and soundtrack.
Newest music video for Japanese band Sour Mirror. If you liked Arcade Fire’s mv that used google maps, you’ll like this.
(Make sure you connect it to your Facebook, Twitter, and Webcam).
i love everything about this poster.