Making a name for yourself in the design industry takes time, skill and patience. It’s not just about having a show-stopping design portfolio: this fast-paced industry means creative folk need to continually look for ways to upskill so you can lead from the front.
Tobias van Schneider was born in Germany, raised in Austria, and now lives and works in New York City. He’s gone from self-taught beginnings to lead product designer and art director at Spotify, and is currently the co-founder of Semplice, a portfolio tool for designers.
He describes himself as a “designer and maker”, and he possesses a spectacular beard. Here, he imparts five simple maxims to help you raise your design game.
01. Forget the idea of overnight success
“We love to celebrate success stories and put people we admire on a pedestal,” says van Schneider. “But we forget even the most successful people had to start somewhere and worked hard to get where they are today. There’s no such thing as an overnight success.”
02. Remember any project can change your life
“Look at every task or project that comes your way, even the seemingly small and insignificant ones, as an opportunity,” he advises. “You never know where an article you write, a video you make or a design you create might take you. Say yes until you can afford to say no.”
03. Be stupid
“The greatest ideas never make it into the world because we’re too afraid of what other people think. We fear failure and come up with excuses. We overcomplicate and our idea dies before we’ve even begun. Keep it simple, be stupid.”
04. Trust your gut
“With all the information in the world at our fingertips, we can easily talk ourselves in circles,” says says van Schneider. “Information often fails us, but intuition almost never does. Your intuition is the sum of your experiences, learnings and a little magic. Do what feels right.”
05. Don’t do it for money
“Of course we need money to live, but it shouldn’t be our main motivator,” he adds. “Aim to make what you need to get by. This will open up opportunities and relationships you wouldn’t otherwise consider, and work that actually excites you. Money usually ruins the fun, but fun brings the money.”