Ask Me Anything!

2 months ago from , School of Visual Arts

Hi everyone! It's Debbie Millman here and I am ready for the Designer News AMA. For a little bit more about me, I am the host of one of the first and longest running podcasts, Design Matters; the founder and chair of the School of Visual Arts Masters in Branding program in NYC, and the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization founded by Law & Order SVU actor and activist Mariska Hargitay. We are hoping to eradicate sexual violence and the rape-kit backlog in our time. I am also a designer and author of six books. Ask me anything!


  • Radley OrdestaRadley Ordesta, 1 month ago

    do you have a dribbble invitation? :)

    7 points
  • Eric R, 1 month ago

    You've interviewed a wide range of guests on your podcast including David Lee Roth, Seth Godin, astrophysicist David Spergel, photographers, illustrators and other industry personalities. Who are some of the top people you admire or think would make for an insightful conversation that you hope to have on Design Matters?

    What is your favorite place you've traveled and where would you like to visit?

    3 points
    • Debbie Millman, 1 month ago

      Thanks for these great questions Eric! Question 1: Okay--here's a wish list! Michelle Obama, Anna Deveare Smith, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Neil Gaiman, Julie Mehretu, Kara Swisher, Jony Ive, and oh so many more!!!!! Question 2: The most favorite place I've travelled was Easter Island. The Moai are amazing and magical. I went on a National Geographic Expedition early in the year and it was life changing. I am going to Eygpt later this year and can't wait to see the Pyramids. : )

      3 points
  • Peter Lum, 2 months ago

    Hi Debbie! Love listening to design matters. I was wondering what your take is on design and design education is nowadays. We see a lot of people foregoing a formal college or switching careers to design from different walks of life and taking online courses. How do you view the importance of design schools, being a part of the formal system? Specifically, can anybody be a designer or do they have to go to school and does design education have to change?

    3 points
    • , 2 months ago

      I think it is a gift to be taught how to do things by people that know how to do things and want to help you grow and develop. That type of education can take many forms. Some do well with college or university settings, some do better with online learning, some prefer one-on-one mentorship. My college experience at the State University at Albany ('83) was a defining experience in my life--not because of my design education (I took exactly one class on design), but because of how it helped me grow as a person and my exposure to two remarkable professors (Dr Helen Elam and Dr Deborah Dorfman) who taught me how to think critically, defend my ideas, and most important--gave me the impression that they thought I was smart. That was the first time in my life I felt that was and it was revelatory. That being said, college isn't for everyone and college debt is now soul crushing. Fortunately, I went to a state school that was affordable and worked through school so I didn't have much loan debt when I graduated. SO long story short, I think learning your craft and working to grow is a lifelong pursuit and if you are lucky to be able to be in a position to learn from others, I would jump at the change, at any phase of life or your professional journey.

      3 points
      • Peter Lum, 1 month ago

        Thanks for sharing! It's great to have mentors who instill confidence and make you feel emboldened to do your best work and I agree, any craft is a lifelong journey. Thanks for crystallizing that!

        0 points
  • Matthew Hollingsworth, 2 months ago

    Hey Debbie! Thanks so much for being here. We really appreciate it.

    I'll kick things off: What project or initiative that you've done over past year are you most proud of?

    Thanks again!

    DN folks -- Debbie will be here until 1pm PST, so make sure you get in questions before then!

    1 point
    • , 1 month ago

      Hi Matthew! I am most proud of the work I do with Joyful Heart Foundation. We've been working tirelessly on ending the rape-kit backlog in this country. Despite the power of DNA to solve and prevent crimes, hundreds of thousands of rape kits, containing potentially crucial DNA evidence, are languishing untested in police evidence storage rooms and crime labs across the country. Behind each of these kits is a person—a sexual assault survivor—who is still waiting for justice. Currently, only 10 states (Colorado, Georgia, Hawai'i, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas) have passed laws requiring the testing of all kits, both backlogged and newly collected. Most jurisdictions do not track rape kits, most states do not require testing, and very few prohibit the destruction of rape kit evidence. The national backlog of untested rape kits is an unconscionable failure of the criminal justice system to take rape seriously. So doing this work feels like my life's mission!

      3 points
      • Matthew Hollingsworth, 1 month ago

        Amazing. This is really important work, and I'm glad there are people like yourself and your team supporting it.

        If members of the DN community wanted to help, what would be the best way to do so?


        0 points
        • , 1 month ago

          If anyone is interested the best way to get involved is to DM me on twitter, (my DM's are open) and we can discuss! I'm @debbiemillman on twitter.

          1 point
  • , 1 month ago

    Thanks everyone! That was fun! If you have any other questions, please DM me on Twitter, my DM's are open. @debbiemillman. Big love to Matt here at Designer News! Thank you for doing all that you do!

    1 point
  • Justine Shu, 2 months ago

    Hi Debbie!

    I love your blog post, “Anything Worthwhile Takes A Long Time”. Being such a multifaceted creative, how have you found the time to accomplish all that you have, while doing it well? How have you not let society’s expectations of “fast and now” influence your position while delivering quality work?

    Thanks for being here! Justine

    1 point
    • , 1 month ago

      Hey Justine-- It's hard and sometimes overwhelming. I often say you don't find time, you make time, and that busy is a decision. We make the time to do the things we want and the things that we believe are important and are priorities. Even still, sometimes I hear myself saying that I haven't gotten to something because I am too busy and it might take a minute or two but a little alarm goes off in my head and I have to reconsider whether it is something I actually want to do. As far as doing things well--I just do my best. Some podcast episodes are definitely better than others! Same goes for all of my other work. One thing to recognize--I am not married and I don't have kids. That means most of my days are really elastic. I absolutely positively do not think I would be able to do as much as I do on a daily basis if I had children.

      2 points
      • Justine Shu, 1 month ago

        Remembering we have a choice in each moment - of saying yes or no, how we perceive the situation, etc. Thanks, Debbie, super helpful!

        0 points
  • alec salec s, 1 month ago

    is a hot dog a sandwich?

    1 point
  • Tim SilvaTim Silva, 2 months ago

    Hi Debbie! Thanks for the years of fun and education podcast episodes. =)

    Years back, I bought your deck of cards from the DeckStarter launch. The deck was outstanding, and fun. Did you collaborate with Dan & Dave Buck on it at all, or did they simply give you a blank canvas?

    0 points
  • Ravi Shanker, 1 month ago

    Hi Debbie, I've been a big fan of 'Design Matters' for quite a while. 'Design Matters' was one of the reasons I'm in IXD at SVA :)

    Where do you see design education headed? As Peter mentioned elsewhere, there are a lot of people switching to a design career with varied backgrounds. How often do you think that education should change to reflect the changing demographics and industries?

    0 points