Debbie Millman explains why design matters

Makes sense. I had a counselor in college, and because I was always trying to do a lot of different things, she said, “You can’t be all versions of yourself at once.” But I feel like your career is so intertwined, he’s a high-level example of someone who’s actually successful.

Well, I think I might disagree with your teacher, but only in that it will take you longer to master them. If you’re doing a lot of different things at the same time, you don’t have much time to practice improving. However, you know, by the time you’re 50 or 60, you’ll have put 10,000 hours into all these different things, and then you can enjoy that kind of variety and diversity in what you do. You just have to be patient with yourself. And I suspect you probably aren’t, just as I wasn’t. But I think there’s something really special about this combinatorial creativity that enriches everything you do. Ultimately.

Since this interview is for vanity lounge and you generously shared your Condé Nast interview essay with me (“Pick One”), I was curious to know: when you applied to work at VF, What was in the magazine that made you want to work there?

Well, there’s a certain symmetry here actually, I think about it. You know when vanity lounge relaunched in 1982, it was a literary arts magazine, and it featured David Hockney on the cover and Philip Roth. And that’s the kind of people I want on my show right now. You know, people who change culture with their work.

So, for example, the [June 1983] David Hockney’s cover was and still is, I think, one of the most beautiful covers in magazine history. You know, with his feet, with the socks and the boat. And you know, that just wasn’t the case back then. These kind of creative, experimental, very risky covers, you didn’t see them, you understand.

And so I thought the magazine reflected the culture in a way that I felt the world needed to see. And that was so exciting for me. I thought the design was beautiful. Charles Churchward was the art director at the time. I thought he did such a great job with the magazine and the stories and the cover was just spectacular.

And how did you decide to make this trip to Antarctica?

So in 2017, I went through a breakup and gave myself an “I’m going to be single for a year or two.” I’m like, I’m not even dating, just single. And at the end of 2016, I also stopped working at Sterling.

And after I left Sterling, I started thinking, Oh, now there’s an opportunity to really see the world in a way that I haven’t had the opportunity to. So in 2017, after this breakup, I decided I wanted to do something really adventurous on my own. And so I signed up for a National geographic expedition, life changing and amazing.

Abdul J. Gaspar