Looking for Design Principles and/or Creative Directors:

I’ve gone back to school recently (still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up) and have been greatly encouraged to pursue a design related field.

Being the insatiably curious individual that I am I have decided to thoroughly investigate the various fields of design in an effort to better understand not just the fields themselves, but the associated career paths.

Entry level positions, what they are and how to get them, I get. What remains somewhat of a mystery to me are the higher level positions of Design Principle and Creative Director. As my interest lie in having my own business someday I would like to hear from those who have succeeded in this endeavor or are trying to now.

My patience, like my curiosity, is infinite. I would love to hear from you about what it takes to reach these positions. Your trials and tribulations, things you wish you’d known when you were starting out, is it worth it, and if so (or not) why.

I’m in the Portland/Seattle area and if you are local, I’m more than willing to spring for lunch in exchange for your story.

Although I’ve posted this in several places, I would appreciate any pointers on where else I might post it or who I might talk with.

Many, many thanks for your patience and answers.

I think one of the best places to start is with professionals. That concept may seem scary and daunting, but it really is very surprising and refreshing how quickly professional designers will respond and how much information they will give you. Of course, you can’t expect to jump to the “big names” immediately, but start with whoever you want and work your way around. Often times, I have found, they are willing to critique and offer advice on your work and portfolio.

Which part of the whole design field are you leaning towards? If Industrial Design, then look here at IDSA’s mentor list for people to contact. http://idsa.org/content/content1/student-mentor-directory. I hope that somewhat answered your question; though, I am not sure at all about the more advanced jobs. I have heard, though, that to get any sort of corporate or managerial career you need a Master’s of some sort. But that is just hear-say and not confirmed.

There is a really great association of firm owners called the association of professional design firms (APDF). I bet that if you contact the executive director (Cathy Brownlee) she could help you arrange interviews at their next conference. I am not sure what the current requirements are but you might need to join to get that access.

My success in transitioning from staff designer to design director/partner and then owner is a direct result of being around really talented people and putting in the time to learn from them the things that I knew little about. Probably the biggest obstacles were/are my own impatience and the struggle to know when and how to be assertive. If there are more specific things you would like to know just ask.