This week Tim and I attended AGDA’s 5/15/25. It was a great dose of mid-week inspiration as it’s always motivating to hear people talk so passionately about their careers and their work. The three speakers were Henry Luong, Dan Agostino and Stephen Castledine. Some of my standout messages were:
Henry Luong, despite his success, never really considered himself to be a super talented designer (he is). Instead, he attributes his success to his ability to work hard, and to always show up.
Taking calculated and justified risks are a sure fire way to make sure that you always move forward. Henry took calculated risks in the way he pushed his career forward. He changed his course of study, started a business, leapt into teaching and is now building a startup that focuses on food distribution. Henry’s risks were driven by no more than extensive research and an idea of where he wanted to go. “You may as well do them while you’re young”, he said. Sage advice.
Dan Agostino, on the other hand, talked about how he takes calculated and justified risks in the way he approaches new design projects. Dan talked about his method of respectfully discarding restrictive corporate brand guidelines as a way to push a company’s brand and design forward. The results, from what he showed, are beautiful.
This one really struck a chord with me. While it’s not exactly verbatim (thanks, bad short term memory) I’ll just quote what was said because I don’t think there is any better way to put it:
If you don’t believe in your work, how do you expect others to?
I have to be honest, I had never heard of Stephen Castledine before Wednesday night. I am so ashamed to say that. Stephen is a graphic designer, the type that was around before the age of computers (I know, right?!), and the work that Stephen showed was phenomenal. Through pictures of Stephen’s work alone, you could almost feel the finesse that a good hand, a creatively driven soul and a bucket load of passion can bring.
I often wonder if designers of today, particularly in the digital world, are driven by the love of tools more than the love of ‘creating’. Stephen is one of those designers who is purely driven by the love he has for what he does. He said, on multiple occasions throughout the night, that drawing (and designing) is just something “he has to do” and that there was no way he could “just not do it”.
I’m inspired on a number of different levels by this point: I want to learn more about the history of design, I want to bring more manual practices into my design workflow and I just want to focus on nurturing that from-the-heart-and-from-the-gut passion for design.
Overall, the 5/15/25 event was excellent. I’ll have to admit, as a designer rooted in the tech industry, I have often been apprehensive about attending an AGDA event simply because I thought it wouldn’t be relevant to me. The truth is, design is design, and we are all dealing with the same things so we may as well be open, and learn from each other.
As far as I know 5/15/25 is an annual event. I’d definitely recommend heading along to the next one if you can!
Show up, take risks, create with conviction and be driven by passion.