Insights from a Designer: Jason Wilkins

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a designer? Or where they get their inspiration? The University of Texas at Austin School of Design and Creative Technologies asked Associate Professor of Design and Page Senior Associate / Senior Designer Jason Wilkins. Read on for an edited excerpt of his interview.

What area of design do you focus on?

Some projects require the design of communication, some the design of navigation, and others the design of space or place. Different problems need different tools, and for me, design is merely the process for understanding which tool might be the right to use. The individuals that I would regard as my mentors use the phrase “discipline agnostic,” and I was really taken by that because if all you’ve got is a hammer, everything will start to look like nails.

My good fortune in working with both a wide variety of talented designers and bright clients on a range of projects has really influenced and shaped my understanding of what a practicing designer does.

Where did you first start working as a designer?

A small studio called Dyal and Partners here in Austin is where I was baptized by fire. We referenced design and art history when sharing ideas and craft was table stakes. Books were the main feature of the space which sat alongside Eames splints, Corbusier chairs, and Nelson lamps. We designed posters, books, brand identities, signage, wayfinding systems, experiential graphics, retail environments, websites, campaigns… anything we could. The best part was that a majority of the work was here and for great institutions—the University, KUT and KUTX, The Blanton Museum of Art, ACC Highland Mall, and People’s Community Clinic to name a few.

What was the biggest takeaway from your design education?

  • Read, make work, and collect ideas—all of those things should happen independently of your professors and assignments from your courses.
  • Read because there are a lot of smart people out there that have probably figured out something that you think, but haven’t articulated for yourself.
  • Make work because repetition is how you build intuition.
  • Collect ideas because it creates awareness, and awareness is a great way to later connect seemingly disparate ideas.

To read the full interview on The University of Texas website, click here.