We are all reinventing.

One of my favorite designers was a guy named Hillman Curtis. Hillman was a graphic designer, turned web designer, turned film maker. He wrote two books and produced several short videos about design, process and his life. I’ve always been a distant fan, having never actually met him, but feeling like I knew him through his work. Sadly, he actually passed recently, and the AIGA honored him by making him the recipient of the AIGA Medal earlier this year.

I bring him up not only because he was a talented and smart guy whose worked influenced and educated me beyond what was in my reach, but because in one of the last films he made, he talks about how looking back in his design career, his story has always been about reinvention.

And designers in Saint Louis have to reinvent.

I was thinking about an article that Adweek posted in 2010 written by the St. Louis Egotist (which is not me btw) about the Saint Louis agency scene titled The STL’s Ad Scene: ‘Dangerously Creative’.  It lists a lot of great agencies in the city, but the article is really about living with the aftermath of the InBev buyout, and how that impacted an entire generation of designers that have worked on liquor promotion their entire careers.

So what happens to designers when the rug is pulled out from under them? What happens to entire agencies? What happens to an entire city?

We reinvent. Or we don’t.

Reinvention isn’t about figuring out what technology we should sell next. It’s about breaking the thinking of what’s been done in the past, and building from it. It’s about looking at things in a new way.

New perspective comes from new experiences. This year during Saint Louis Design Week, you have over 60 chances to do something new. Meet someone new. Learn something new. And I think you should do it.

If not, you’ll need to think of 60 excuses to stay the same.


Mike Spakowski is an enthusiastic young man and Chair of Saint Louis Design Week. He often spends his days at Atomicdust.

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