This website is a collection of data from my time during World’s Greatest Internship from October 2018 through March 2019. It is an outlet for self-reflection and self-analysis, a tool to understand how I changed over time.
October came and went in a flash, but what a great way to begin. These types of opportunities just don’t exist within the creative industry and it takes a really special group of people to have a wild idea and actually see it through. Between travel and work, the month was filled with many opportunities to set an intention. I started to realize that this is more than just my personal growth, but an opportunity to learn something new from every place I go.
During this first month, the greatest takeaway was how important leadership is. I thought a lot about the leaders in my life and the kind of one I want to be in the future. At Butchershop, there’s a lot of great leaders. In fact, the office is filled with the kinds of people you look forward to seeing every day. I realized that environments like this don’t just exist. They’re set with an intention, a vision about what a workplace should be like and approaching every action with that in mind.
November. We started at Collins and wasted no time diving in. To be honest, this experience is what I’ve been craving for months, maybe even years. We (by we, I mean Maddy and I, the other WGI intern) always say, “give us an occasion, and we will rise to it.” I saw this month as an opportunity to learn as much as possible, and give as much as I possibly could in return. I loved every second. The endless iterations, the harsh critique, the piles upon piles of references. Through it all, I came out a lot tougher and sharper than before.
I got coffee with Brian one morning, and the conversation quickly became the theme of the entire month. “You need to be tough,” he said, “when anybody pushes you, what do you have to do?” I hesitated and then said, “you have to push back,” giving him a shove as we walked down the sidewalk. If anything, that’s exactly what Brian Collins wants from his designers. A strong point of view, the willingness to fight, the determination to stand up for the work.
I’m sure many people can relate to having worked in environments where they felt they didn’t have a voice. For the first time, I felt liberated from the fact that having a strong point of view doesn’t mean you’re subordinate. It means you have the gumption to stand up for yourself and the work. I mean, if we can’t even do that, what’s the role of the designer anyway? We have the incredible responsibility of creating work that influences behavior and shapes perception. With this in consideration, we have to acknowledge that nothing is sacred until the solution is absolutely spot on. Not our egos, our art boards, our shiny mockups–not even Brian Collins himself.
The next day, Brian pulled Maddy and I into the library and told us to sit down. It’s one of those conversations where you wish you could have recorded the whole thing, but in it’s distilled version, this is what he told us: “Talent is not enough if you don’t know how to ask for what you want. The world will demand things of you all the time that you won’t want to give them. You need to fight. You need to demand what you want from the world”. The elevator rang and Brian stood to grab his bag and scarf. Before he left the room, he turned to us and said “and you need to do the same, and do it now.”
So here’s to a future of absolutely zero compromises, of standing up for yourself, advocating for others, and fighting like hell for the work you believe in.
London! The last time I was here, I was on an orientation for what I thought would be my first job out of school. I stayed an extra long weekend after our scheduled events ended and soaked up the city I’ve loved from afar, and now I’m here again for an extended time. I love the experience this program brings–the opportunity to take your time and let everything sink in. When people go on vacation, they want to pack in as much as possible in a short amount of time, but I know that you can learn just as much by stepping back and watching the people around you.
Our first day at Made Thought, we were practicing our morning commute. When we entered the station, a flood of people poured in behind us and rushed towards the stairs. I noticed the silence. Nobody said a word the entire three-minute exchange from platform to platform! All you could hear was the footsteps of a hundred people all moving in the same direction, complying with one another to ensure a seamless morning.
That Friday, we were invited to a pub across the road to celebrate the weekend. At midnight, I checked my clock and asked, “how in the hell did we just spend the last 6 hours outside that pub?” Who knows! The time flew. Rounds of pints, shattered glass, and rowdy banter seemed to melt the time away. We realized what a fun and sociable group of people were surrounded with, and wondered how this sidewalk of boisterous strangers could have started their weeks in total silence.
There are pros and cons to being a tourist. We become immersed in a place, but still hold ourselves at a distance to observe from afar. I found myself asking a lot of questions I maybe wouldn’t consider if I wasn’t here for such a short time. I have written down in my notes, “elevation in design is restraint,” but I wonder how that statement applies to culture. The dichotomy between precision and inhibition is so evident in London. I wonder what would happen if someone shattered the glass and invited everyone to join in too.
It’s 2019. I’m in Brussels, sitting in what would be their conference table during the week and what is the table from which I project sappy movies on the weekend. Living, working, making all in the same space. I gave as much as I possibly could and barely took five breaths before the month was over. To think that this one month was merely a breath in the great span of existence, of my whole life, of this program, and somehow we move on.
Every month I transform into a completely new person, inheriting a new company ethos and learning a new design process over and over again. This was the first month that I really truly believed I had it in me. I feel like as young designers we get really good at faking confidence. This was the first time where I was confident, excited and proud of what I made–whether or not it lives to see the light of day is not up to me. I still gave everything I had, not only for the project but for myself, because I was excited about the work and eager for the outcome.
This whole month was filled with experiences that shaped my view of Base. Every conversation transformed my perspective time and time again. The kind where you can feel yourself growing while it’s happening. If anything, I think it embodies what made Base such a special place to be. Our conversation whirled from topic to topic, but something that really struck me was the reality that everything is relative. Everything is changing, but what matters most is to be present with yourself and with others.
I wrote some notes after I left the restaurant, and one of them reads: “everything ends. Everything ends eventually. Most things we make become destroyed in the end. But we do make beautiful things. We have music, and art, and design, and somehow that makes it all worthwhile. I care more about this moment right now, with these people, than the idea that everything will end.” We are so uncomfortable with change. The slightest shift will send us into shock, but there’s nothing we can do to change it. Everything is changing all the time.
This conversation was one of many, but it showed how thoughtful, honest, and real people are at Base. It shows how being open and present with one another changes the entire atmosphere. Every time we throw ourselves into new opportunities, there’s always the possibility of fault or failure. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been torn in half and sewn back together, growing a thicker layer of skin every time, and softening my heart with the understanding that life will have its way, whether or not I try to fight it. We blink and everything has changed, but that’s not meant to scare us. It’s meant to ground us in the present moment, and fill our hearts with hope for everything that’s to come.
February feels like forever ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. We touched down in an airport the size of my hometown, except every familiarity was clouded by the cover of night. No signal to call an car, nobody to meet us at the gate, no words to guide the taxi driver we haphazardly hailed. That’s all fine though–At this point, we’re used to it. We invite it. For the first time this whole experience, we acknowledged that the start of every month felt like a complete upheaval–shedding an old layer and taking on something completely new.
This was also the first month we acknowledged to ourselves that we aren’t invincible. That this thing we’re doing is E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G, and that our experiences will likely only exist between the two of us. We can only describe them to others and wonder how they choose to assign its context. What I find relieving is that context isn’t entirely our responsibility. Sometimes all people need is the answer to a simple question or an example to tether their own experiences to. Ask us anything, anything at all, and a waterfall will flow from our mouths. All we’re here to do is to watch, listen, ask, and share in return.
This is as close to the finish line as we'll ever get.