Nuggets of Advice: TYPO SF

In addition to TYPO SF being full of inspiration it was also full of tid bits of wisdom, lots of advice, and tons of aspirational quotes.

Here are the nine nuggets of advice I came away with. And, yes, I included some of the quotes cause every listicle needs some cheesy aspirational quotes.


Chuck Close Quote

1. Just Show up and Work

Maria Popova, the keynote speaker, explained it well when she said success is about more than talent. It is about showing up and work ethic. So just show up and work.


2. Say yes even when you don’t know how.

Pretty much every speaker I listened to talked about taking on jobs that they had no clue how to do. More often than not, it was these jobs that they got the most out of. So say yes and then figure it out.


TYPO: Potato Type

3. Get Back to the Basics

Sometimes the basics are the best solution. René Knip’s work hit this idea home whether it was his typeface made from the same potato stamps we all carved as kids or putting the word “orange” in the color orange.


4. Lean into the uncomfortable.

This was the biggest epiphany I experienced throughout the whole weekend, thanks to Lisa Congdon. I don’t know about you but I always seem to solve my design problems in the shower. I have even been known to take a shower when I am really stuck to see if that helps. Yes, it is weird, but it turns out I am not the only one who does great thinking in the shower and here is why. And if you have no idea what I am talking about replace shower with going for a run, being on an airplane, waking up in the middle of the night, or even knitting. The reason people solve creative problems in these situation is because they embrace the abyss, the uncomfortable abyss. In today’s technology-impacted world we are never without our smart phones (except when in the shower) and therefore never uncomfortable. Think of the last time you had a creative block. What did you do? Browsed the web, checked your email, read the latest Buzzfeed articles, posted an Instagram photo of your surroundings. Rather than struggling with the uncomfortable, you distracted yourself. It is having no distractions in the shower, and leaning into the uncomfortable that allows for such great thinking. So next time you are starting a new project or have a creative block, get rid of all distractions, and embrace the uncomfortable and see what happens.


5. Embrace that you are a beginner.

Nobody is ever good at something at the beginning. Embrace that you’re a beginner and practice, practice, practice until you are no longer one.


6.Be your own client.

If you have a dream project you have been wanting to do, but don’t have a client, be your own client. Both Gemma O’Brien and René Knip talked about spending their nights doing their own personal work and how this work, more often than not, led to commercial work. René took is a step further. He suggested rather than just spend your nights doing personal work, be your own client, and take yourself seriously, as a client.


7. Practice more, plan less.

It is that simple. Stop planning and start doing.


TYPO: Routine

8. Develop a routine.

No specific routine guarantees success. Maria Popova even analyzed famous writers and how their sleep habits affected their literary productivity. The conclusion she came to is that it doesn’t matter what the type of routine, it is routine itself that leads to success.

Maria Popova Quote

9. Do what you love.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “do what you love and you never work a day in your life,” I would never have to work a day in my life. Every speaker talked about doing what you love and had a different aspirational quote to go with this concept. What really proved this point to me was when the organizer of TYPO mentioned that the while no one speaking was a professional speaker the reason they were so interesting to listen to was because they clearly loved what they were doing. He explained that if you do what you like doing and do it with all your heart you will be successful and happy.


Potato Image from René Knip’s TYPO SF Presentation
Routine Image from Maria Popova’s TYPO SF Presentation


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