The Burning Question: Our highlights
We learned a lot last night at the design panel and discussion “The Burning Question.” Our 3 brilliant speakers Paul Ryding, Anita Murphy and Christopher Murphy came from illustration, product and graphic design backgrounds and each brought their wealth of knowledge and experience (work and life) to the panel. Interviewed comedian Graeme Watson did a stellar job of interviewing the panel. Onstage, the designers discussed design and mental health, why Belfast is a great place to set up a creative business and we even learned about Paul’s “secret” background as an accomplished baker (and pastry chef!). Our event covered 3 key topics – Design & Society, Design & DIY Culture and Design & Wellbeing followed by an audience Q & A.
These are some (well, a lot!) of our highlights from the discussion:
Design & Society
“Belfast is a perfect place to nurture and grow a career internationally” – Paul Ryding
- You may be faced with designing for controversial or serious topics which you have to deal with sensitively. Paul spoke about his experience designing the cover illustration for the Trayvon Martin book “Rest In Power“co-authored by Trayvon’s parents.
- Belfast is becoming an exciting place to set up business, an “untilled field” with a lot of potential. Paul moved from Glasgow to London to Belfast and has been happy to set up business in the city.
- Both Anita and Chris spoke about how where you are based is now irrelevant thanks to the internet and that there is so much potential to develop your skills in the worlds of Art and Design.
Design & DIY Culture
“Find the time and an outlet to be creative.” – Anita Murphy
- Chris spoke about one of his earliest projects – an electronic record label on which he created hype around ten initial “fake” releases before creating a real sellable one. He spoke about taking risks and that sometimes when you are in the middle of it, you just have to deal with it.
- Anita spoke about how as a designer, it’s also important that you know how to run a business and work with clients.
- Anita had to make the tough choice of choosing between studying Psychology at university and going to art college and was told by others that she was “too smart” for art college. She felt that this was due to the complete misconception that design doesn’t require intelligence when in fact some of the most creative people out there are in fact very smart. The lack of focus on creativity at school has inspired one of Anita’s passions at The Creativity Hub – introducing design to kids at a younger age.
Design & Wellbeing
“There is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health in Design.” – Christopher Murphy
- Chris spoke about overcoming “Impostor Syndrome” – the feeling that everything that you are doing is in fact a total sham and that you will be discovered any minute when in fact you may in all likelihood be fine or even successful!
- Chris talked about a very personal story of his attempted suicide. This served as a turning point in how he was running his life and business and he made some major changes to make sure that everything was more balanced and that he was able to do everything he wanted.
- Some of the biggest challenges can be self-doubt and Anita spoke about the challenges of making tough decisions such as downscaling the business and as a result having to let people go.
- Paul spoke about what an inspiration it can be to teach and be in touch with those just embarking on their creative careers.
- Anita – Problem-solve every day, get all the advice that you can and think of business as a list of things to be designed.
- Paul – Work at it every single day, if you have a good product and you do it for long enough, you are likely to succeed.
- Chris – Ask other people for advice on money. Share any lessons you learn along the way and see the world as your audience – what you do may be niche but if you look internationally, you’ll likely find enough like-minded individuals to allow you to run a good business.
Audience Q & As
Design, Mental Health, Loneliness
- Do something that is purely a passion and fun, not work. For Chris, this is “breaking out” the keyboard and embarrassing his kids!
- On loneliness – build a network of people that can be your support.
- You may need to make changes to your lifestyle – diet, exercise, quitting alcohol or drugs etc.
Drawing – do you have to be good at it?
- Anita said that drawing is simply another way of communicating – in Japan, it is taught alongside writing so that it becomes second nature.
- Do not be afraid of drawing!
Can drawing also perhaps be something other than sketching – like collage for example?
- Stop worrying about what people think – a drawing can be as simple as a sketch.
- Your signature style is what makes your drawing more than just a drawing. Paul said that everyone can draw. The difference between someone that is good at drawing and everyone else is simply the number of hours that have been put into crafting their skills
What happens when educators tell you that you are not good at drawing?
- Educators have a responsibility to critique students in a non-dismissive way as they are responsible for shaping the students’ design educations and future careers. Chris talked about being educators being “designers of minds.”
and we’ll end on this quote by the hilarious Paul Ryding:
“Life drawing is like broccoli – people hate it but it’s good for you.”
“The Burning Question” was supported by Creativity NI as part of Creativity Month.