Frequencies Podcast by WGI: Unity Without Uniformity with Dylan Mulvaney


Dylan Mulvaney is Head of Design at Gretel, where he began as an intern 11 years ago. Today he uses his expertise in translating core values, strategy, and voice into striking visual executions for clients like Vice, Netflix, Knoll, and MoMA.

We discuss the importance of trying a lot of things when you’re young. The value of creating strong connections during an internship, and what it takes to go from intern to Head of Design at one of the best creative studios around.

Dylan shares Gretel’s creative and branding process. What it’s like to move through a project from discovery, to strategy, to the creative connecting and output.

Here is the transcript from the conversation. 

Please note we use an automated transcription process that is not 100% accurate. If you read something that seems a little off, it may not have been transcribed correctly. We try our best to catch them. If you catch one, shoot us a note so we can update it!

[00:00:00] Dylan: [00:00:00] I think if you don't feel those kinds of butterflies in your stomach, sometimes you're probably not taking enough risks moving into any new territory. I think you just have to fully commit to whatever you're doing and that ambiguity and struggle that leads to that kind of feeling of nervousness and doubt ultimately is what makes the thing we do rewarding.

Ian: [00:00:25] Welcome to frequencies a podcast by world's greatest internship, and Butchershop creative that share stories and practical advice from creative leaders around the world. I mean earns her and I hope you enjoy my conversation with the talented Dylan Mulvaney. Dylan is head of design at Gretel. His expertise lies in translating core values, strategy, and voice into striking visual executions for clients like vice Netflix, Knoll and MoMA.

His work has been honored by the DNA. DNAD the art directors club. The type directors club [00:01:00] and fast company. Welcome to frequencies. It's great to have you on the show. 

Dylan: [00:01:06] Hey, thanks for having me again. Super glad to be here. 

Ian: [00:01:09] Why don't you tell us where you're from and where you grew up. 

Dylan: [00:01:13] Yeah, I grew up, no one will have ever heard of it.

A small town in Iowa called Corgan that has about 500 people is right dead center Midwest kind of just West of the Mississippi. When I was growing up, everybody around me, my parents, all my friend's parents, they all kind of had like storybook jobs. My dad was a mechanic. My mom was a school teacher and then a stay at home mom.

Most of my friend's parents were farmers. So there weren't like graphic designers around like you and probably everybody who's watching and listening to this. When I was a little kid, I really liked doing kind of like arts and crafts projects around home. And I remember knowing that I wanted to be an [00:02:00] artist when I grew up.

When I was in fifth grade, we got this like ugly, beige, compact theater. It was our first theater and windows 98 on it and the internet and that kind of like blew open my world.  And around the same time I bought my first digital camera, which sounds crazy, but it was the 0.8 megapixels. Like not even one megapixel 

Ian: [00:02:27] that was advanced at that time.

It really was, it was 

this Polaroid one that  Polaroid camera and I  through certain means acquired a copy of Photoshop and started  just taking pictures of things and kind of clone, stamping things for no reason. And just playing around in there, kind of. Getting started on photography, but also kind of starting to learn the Adobe suite.

And I would add a horrible type to them and like make cards for people and make crappy CDR [00:03:00] to give to my friends at around the same time without knowing it, I kind of was getting into graphic design. Like I started to like certain logos, like certain things would pop out album art, which I think is one way that a lot of people get into design through all the years basically.

And I started doing some kind of horrible amateur web design, which like then God, none of that. Yeah. I think that's another, the way a lot of people get into it. When I was in high school, I started doing a little bit more serious web design thing for my own hosting, not using like GeoCities or whatever.

And I took some college classes where. I was doing some basic coding. And that was great because I learned that I hated coding, which was like one course correction on trying to figure out what graphic design was and kind of where it was headed. And I was kind of bumbling around in those high school years trying [00:04:00] to figure out what this thing I was interested in was.

And I finally got the term graphic design when I was on a job shadow at like a local newspaper. So I knew that finally, and then after high school, I knew I had to go to one of the two state schools. Basically it wasn't an option to come in New York and go to SBA or anything like that. Luckily, one of the two state schools, Iowa state has a really good graphic design program within this bigger college of design.

So I went to Iowa state, I studied sociology there and graphic design and the curriculum there is pretty traditional in a good way. It's kind of modeled on the Bauhaus where that first year everybody's mixed together. It's all the art and design kids. It's thrown together in these kinds of classes where you're doing life drawing and turning paper into architecture and all kinds of fun, kind of loose things that were meant to give you an overview of all the different disciplines.

And then at the end of that first year, you put a portfolio together with all your [00:05:00] work and photos. Everything your drawings and you apply to one of the programs. So I only applied to the graphic design one  cause that's what I knew I was interested in. And I got accepted in the first two years after you get accepted or just kind of learning the foundations of graphic design, like building up your knowledge of the programs type biography, layout, all the kind of basics.

And after two years I decided I knew enough that I should try and go get an internship. And I knew I wanted to live in New York. Like I've always wanted to live in New York. So I looked around for internships out here and I ended up getting two of them. One of them was at a studio called athletics, which is still here, they're in Williamsburg.

And that was my first kind of taste of studio life. And seeing how things run on the studio. And I got to work on lots of cool projects there. The very first day I was there. I did some t-shirts for Sesame street, like streetwear kind of t-shirts. And then when I was wrapping up, we [00:06:00] were doing this kind of animated infographic.

That was about the war in Iraq. So like huge range, different mediums. I learned a little bit of after effects, which was cool. I was starting to kind of dabble in motion D other kind of half of my week, I spent at this place called rad mountain, which doesn't exist anymore, but it was this collective down and go on us that had like print people and motion people and like screen printers and illustrators people that design textiles.

It was like this really cool, eclectic mix of people. And I worked on all kinds of things with them. My favorite thing I did there was this stop motion animation, just cause it was so hands-on and it was like a medium that I was interested in too. And I liked working and living in New York so much that I wanted to drop out of school.

I have one year left, but I kind of got lured back because the next semester I was going to be spending in Rome. So I was like, ah, [00:07:00] what else? What almost am I going to have that opportunity? And studying abroad was really great. So if there's anybody that's listening or watching this, and it's something that is an option for you, I would really, really, really recommend it.

So I spent those six months in Rome finished my last semester in Iowa. And then right after I graduated, just came back out here as soon as I can. And just started freelancing around for about six months based on basically connections through my internships. And then one of my friends that I had made is through one of those internships, started freelancing at a studio called Gretel and she thought it was a place I would really like.

So I ended up meeting with Greg Hom. Who's the founder of Gretel started freelancing at Gretel. And after a few months, I think around the holidays, maybe three months, I went, full-time there as a junior designer and I've been there for 11 years [00:08:00] now.  And I'm head of design there now. 

No looking back. No 

Dylan: [00:08:06] nothing.

Ian: [00:08:08] Wow. Well, especially, you know, for so many folks starting off, I think it's. Pretty pretty standard or almost expected for people to bounce around and taste the rainbow, get out there and see the way that people do things. Yeah. Yeah. 

Dylan: [00:08:24] I think internships are kind of a great way to start feeling out different scales and studios and different types of work that you're may or may not be interested in kind of like when I took that coding class and it just threw up a flag, like this is not what you want it to be doing.

They're great for that. And I do think it's kind of normal to be moving around, like every two, three or four years. Probably it would be average. I've been in Gretta long enough that it almost feels like I've worked at maybe three different companies while I'm trying to start it there. They're really focused on motion and they're doing branding for [00:09:00] motion, but also like TV commercials and kind of smaller jobs.

And over the years, since I've been there, we've kind of slowly been shifting like away from specializing in motion and just more towards branding in general. So there's some kind of big shifts in like type of client, like scale of job that kind of made it feel like I was at different studios. 

Ian: [00:09:24] Yeah. It's often, I think a reflection of not just the opportunities with clients and their challenges and problems, but it's a reflection of the people at the company at the agency as well.

So of course everybody's changing and evolving and growing, and it's a reflection of where people are in life and their interests and where they want to see, you know, the, the agency or themselves going as well. 

Dylan: [00:09:47] Yeah. Yeah, and we have a great crew now, quite a few people have been with us for quite awhile.

And we've been growing over the past few years. I think in our last year we might've grown maybe like [00:10:00] 30%. Okay. 

Ian: [00:10:01] So from intern to head of design only took 11 years. What was that trajectory like? I mean, how did you get to become head of design at Gretel, 

Dylan: [00:10:13] going from designer to head of design? I would say it's kind of like going from musician to conductor, like when you're a designer, you're the super skilled specialist that performs as part of this bigger ensemble that's around you.

And design is one of the crucial things, like obviously have a design studio, but when you're a designer, you're kind of laser focused on your personal design work that you're doing, like your schedule, your output and your own development. When you're head of design, kind of being more like conductor, you're deciding how new works are interpreted that come through the door, you're trying to unify all these different performers and set the tempo for them.

And then a lot of what you're doing is like listening critically and trying to shape that final [00:11:00] output. So yeah, the process is going from design to how to design for me was really gradual over those 11 years. And. Totally organic. And it's just been this kind of slow long zooming out. Basically, if I was going to give advice to somebody about trying to make that jump, it sounds kind of grandiose, but try and make yourself invaluable and a good way to do that is to start widening your scope and start by contributing to projects that you're not like explicitly assigned to.

It can be simple things like seeing something on somebody's screen and just suggesting a reference that might be helpful to them, or sitting down with somebody for five minutes and brainstorming some ideas. It might mean like hand sketching, something out, just kind of getting the justice something across really quickly, and then handing it on for somebody else to kind of work on kind of whatever it takes.

Because a big part of that role is enabling design [00:12:00] through work that isn't actually doing design. Another thing you want to do is start to think about the process that you go through on a project and start breaking it down and think about what you're doing and why you're doing it at each stage, and then try and develop some systems or some templates that can kind of help you along.

Another thing is trying to be a bridge between the different people and the different teams that are working in your studio and try and help solve any problems or kind of miscommunications that come up between them. Another thing that I started doing early on was help find new talent kind of up and coming people that we might want to work with either freelance or full-time.

A great place to start with that is your internship program. If your studio has an internship program, get out there and just start meeting with people, it gets you out there talking about the studio and you kind of start to learn to evaluate [00:13:00] other people's work, which is a really good skill to kind of foster.

And the last thing is just look around what's happening in the studio internally. There's always internal projects. The website always needs updated there's case studies always being built capabilities, presentations that need to go out tomorrow, sign projects  a magazine that your studio is putting together.

Something. If you work on projects like that, you'll learn what's happening across the studio and you'll get to interact with those different departments. And you'll probably get a glimpse into the direction that the studios headed. 

Ian: [00:13:36] Hear that everyone. Awesome advice. Yeah. I think especially what you started off with was become invaluable.

You know, be valuable at every, every intersection where there's crossover of the business, of the company, the agency, the studio, and the output, the actual craft, and look for those areas to multiply and to help grow. [00:14:00] It's difficult for people to see kind of a larger picture, but that comes with asking 


Dylan: [00:14:06] Yeah. And I purposely don't work with headphones on part of that is because I liked hearing what's going on around me. People talking about some other project over here. That's the thing I started doing when I first started working. And I've kind of stuck to another part of it is just because music screws me up if I'm trying to think about anything, but yeah.

Being aware and being kind of curious and poking your nose around. If you're lending a hand to somebody they're never going to reject it. 

Ian: [00:14:36] Yeah. Right, 

right. Yeah. I've heard people say headphones are like  Signaling don't talk to me. Yeah. Yeah. Completely. And sometimes people do put headphones on because they need to get heads down and get to work.

So it's in the groove. But you know, when you work in an environment where, so often you're just spinning around tapping people's shoulders, walking by  if you're wearing them, be expected to take them off pretty [00:15:00] regularly. 

Dylan: [00:15:00] Yeah. That's kind of the beauty of working in a studio environment. It's like such a unique way of organizing a workplace, all these desks and the kind of big open floor plan, everybody kind of walking by seeing what everybody's working on.

I think for some types of work, it might not be the smartest way to organize an office, but for what we're doing, that kind of meshing of people, even sitting at the lunch table, kind of. Talking about each other's projects and the OBS stuck on this thing, all that kind of organic back and forth, I think is really, really helpful.

And lots of times there's breakthroughs that happen there from somebody who's not even supposed to be on the project. 

Ian: [00:15:39] Right. Right. Yeah. You kind of walk as you're walking through the signals and the lines of communication. Sometimes you can walk through some, some inspiration, there's some magic or a catalyst that helps spark an idea for something else.

Can you share with us, what is, what some of your, your processes like  Gretel, do you guys have a set [00:16:00] process or framework that you use to move through project? 

Dylan: [00:16:02] Yeah, we do have a pretty set process and when we show it to clients, it looks pretty kind of clean. Cut. There's phase one, two, three, four, five, you work through them.

We're going to hit these dates. Look how nice and clean and linear it's going to be. And there are phases to it. And the first one that we always start with, we call it discovery. And that's where you're just immersing yourself in the client's world. Kind of like Jane Goodall, going to Gumby and camping and living with the chimps.

You're just trying to. Be around them and soak up as much as possible. You're looking around, looking at everything, reading everything, talking to everybody, keeping an eye out for what the problems are, why did they call us? And then different opportunities, different ways you can help solve things. And they're also going to be given you, and you're going to gather lots of logistical considerations, which I just try and keep in the back of my head at the end of the discovery, we present our findings. [00:17:00]

 Sometimes we'll do like a custom printed book for them. Sometimes we'll do it on screen, but we're just kind of bouncing the brief back to them. And usually it's a kind of a refined version of the brief based on what we've learned and then we'll share some initial directives and what their implications might be for the brand.

The second phase that we go through, we call strategy and we have a whole strategy team. That's something that's grown up at credal over the past, maybe three years, it's so valuable. And in the strategy phase, you just start by filtering and kind of sorting all those different inputs that we got from discovery.

And we can try and turn them into themes. So each theme for us is just one or two words, and they're kind of like truths about the brand. And at first they're just kind of scattered around the page.  They're kind of like the raw ingredients that we built into a range of different territories. And when we're building that range of territories, We're trying to make them each [00:18:00] distinct from each other.

So all the different themes that we're using to build those are true for the brand. But when we create a territory, we're kind of like narrowing them down, clustering them and prioritizing them. So at the end of the strategy, we'll present back to the client D is final territories, and then we use whichever ones resonate best with the client to help point the way for the next phase, which we call lab.

It's the kind of R and D phase. And it's really the most important phase, especially as a designer because it sets what's going to come for the entire rest of the project. I always think of this as the place that I want to put all of my energy. And if I'm going to spend late nights, I'm going to spend them in this phase.

And the goal of lab is just to translate each of those territories main ideas into a structure and a style, the structure, something that gives the brand a kind of underpinning or a logic [00:19:00] and ties together, everything we do with design. So I always think about that as kind of the architecture. And then we also translate each territory's main idea into a style.

So the structure is the architecture. The style is kind of like the interior design. So the same structure, the same building can be styled to be super minimal and restrained, or it can be like really loud and expressive. And for brand identities, the structure and style are expressed through brand elements.

So all the choices you're eventually going to make about the logo and the type and the color and the imagery and the composition and the behavior. All those things should be meaningful and memorable and tell you something about the brand. So we start by building a mood board for each of the territories.

It's usually like a mix of references, like post-it notes, scraps of writing sketches, hand [00:20:00] sketches, digital sketches later on. And when we're building mood boards, we consciously try and combine opposing forces, which I think helps lead to more interesting work. So it might be some it's different for every project.

It might be something like high and low or old and new or order and chaos. And then at the end, you just want the mood board to kind of become more than the sum of its parts, where if you kind of like step back and tilt your head and kind of blur your eyes  you get what the ideas. And then after that we just hop into design.

So we'll choose one of those territories and the mood board that we made for it. And just start sketching, sketching, sketching, sketching, and at the beginning. For me personally, at least I put the emphasis on structure instead of style and these early sketches and the less kind of decisions or variables that I'm weighing at this stage, the better.

So I'll pick a format and it's [00:21:00] usually like just like a two bites or any kind of poster format. And I'll stick to that and just start digging like lots and lots and lots of shallow holes. And I'm always conscious to do a kind of range of expressiveness and like play with different densities and different scales.

And as you're kind of piling up these sketches, the goal. When you kind of zoom back and look at them as a group is to get unity between them without uniformity. So you don't want a lot of repetition. You're kind of trying to flex and stretch this metaphor and see how far it can go. And at first it's kind of like, whatever you want to do there, you can go, you can always dial it back in later, right after I've been scheduled for a while.

What I'll do is. I will zoom back and I'll find like the single best poster that I've made so far. And I'll put that up at the top of my screen, kind of gather everything else down below and I'll try and figure out why that one's the [00:22:00] best. And then I'll try and beat that one with the sketches that I'm doing after that.

And usually this kind of process goes on for like a day or two for a single territory. Then you kind of have to set that to the side and do like a men in black, like minder race, take up another territory and like, repeat, like do that same process of sketching over and over again. And you kind of go through as many territories as you can in the time or that kind of feel promising.

Then I'll gather all the territories and, and them up on the wall and kind of stand back. And then you kind of have your editor hat on and. I'm thinking about like first does this solve the problem? Like that's the most basic thing? Is it representative of the client? Is it driven by some structure, some underlying principle?

Is it scalable? Is it memorable? You have to kind of check and see if they're distinct enough from each other. Sometimes they end up merging or sometimes it feels like [00:23:00] a direction is missing. Maybe you need something that's much more minimal or maybe you need something that's more colorful to kind of flesh out the set.

And I think about it myself, but we'll also do group critiques obviously. And I think it's also helpful sometimes to ask like a non-designer Paul ran, used to always ask his daughter or the mailman. Like if he is designing a logo, like what do you like a or B? Yeah.  And after that, then you just start making edits and kind of pressure testing your designs by starting to make.

Kind of a range of key applications. So I'll usually put like a one-page overview together that has something very kind of small and quiet next to something kind of big and loud. This can be like a real brand moment and you start kind of translating those sketches into those applications and kind of modifying them for what they would need.

Then you start making decisions [00:24:00] about structure and style, kind of locking down variables as you go through that process. And then eventually, basically time runs out. You have to present those design directions. Sometimes the client will just pick one that's happened to us before. For sure. Sometimes they'll tell you to start completely.

That's not good. Sometimes a lot of times though, they'll just tell you to refine and you'll do a couple of rounds most of the time, based on their feedback and kind of narrow the directions until you eventually get to one that gets approved, then you've kind of made it. The hardest part to me at least is over.

And you get to move into application, which is really fun because you start locking down those variables, those final things like final kerning on the logo, PMs, color, swatch, and CMY, K RGB, all those tools and templates. You need to work with ratchet, all of those down. Then you just start designing and [00:25:00] iterating and proliferating it across all the different deliverables.

For some jobs, this goes on for weeks. If it's a smaller brand, bigger brands, it can be months we've done jobs. Our longest jobs probably been like a year, like single job. But while you're doing that, you want to leave yourself room to like grow and flex and evolve. It's that unity not uniformity thing again.

And then the very, very last phase is brand guidelines. At this point, you've made all these hopefully beautiful designs and that's all well and good, but a really good brand guideline. But some art director that's sitting in Stockholm or an editor that's sitting in LA build something themselves that's on brand.

And the big goal with these is to quantify the brand into some guidelines, some tools, some templates, and some examples that. Internal teams and external partners that they're going to be working with can all kind of look at it together. And it's always a [00:26:00] balancing act, how much you want to include in brand guidelines.

If you put into little people, aren't going to understand the system. And if you go the other way and you put it in too much, their eyes are just going to glaze over and they're going to. Push it to the side and do whatever they want. So we try and tend towards principals and kind of talk about flexible behaviors instead of a big, long list of kind of like rigid rules.

And then the last step after that you deliver the guidelines and the templates and the tools, all those assets you made. And we'll usually kind of follow up with some workshops or like training sessions just to get teams on their side up to speed and kind of comfortable with it. So I know that's a lot to hear, but I want to go into some detail  especially so people that are starting out get a kind of sense of the process.

And as a designer, like what you're thinking about at each phase. 

Ian: [00:26:53] Yeah. That's great. Thank you. People starting out  actually at any phase of one's career, it's. [00:27:00] Easy to get excited and want to go straight to the thing, the output, the identity, the, you know, the essence, you know, you want to re you want to be able to craft that, you know, the story from a brand.

And of course we get excited and want to just go straight to it, right? Like start sketching, start, start drawing and creating. But it's important to move through a process where you really listen to what the opportunities are and start to draw the lines in the sand, or to create that sandbox that you can plan.

At what point for you in your career, do you think you started to really realize that where you started to emphasize structure over going right into the brand elements or the identity? 

Dylan: [00:27:42] Yeah, it's a thing that the wiser professors at my college tried to drill into our heads. I think when you're first starting out, you're.

You're trying to get up to speed on the programs. And you're like learning what design means and what its [00:28:00] kind of limits are, how it can stretch what the river forms are. And you're like, at least for me, I would get really excited about a certain technique or I would say I want to make a certain thing.

And whether it was like appropriate at not, especially for like a school project, I would just kind of shoehorn it in there. And I looked back at those projects now it's like so obvious, but I think as you get more used to the kind of base pieces, you start to see that the better work is when the needs of the client and the kind of thing that makes them unique, dovetails perfectly with the technique that you end up using all the decisions you make about all of those brand elements.

And ideally it's such a kind of perfect mesh that when you cover up the logo in the corner, you can tell that it's that brand without being explicit. And it just feels unique. Like it couldn't, what else could it? 

[00:29:00] Ian: [00:28:59] I just saw a commercial and it was a Doritos commercial, but they don't show the Doritos logo.

Right. And they play into that. You know, it was real tongue in cheek. They're saying how they're not saying the name. And it's like, Oh, that signature flavor, that signature look. And it was really cool. It was similar to what you're saying, you know, it's like, okay, what if you remove the logo, can you still identify the essence of the brand?

Like, what's the idea behind it? You know, what are the things they stand for the values. And that's a really overlooked thing. It's really difficult to understand. At the core of what a brand stands for or what they're trying to do or the impact they're trying to make in the world. And it's so easy for us to just to like, want to jump to that and create that thing without understanding what the goals are, you know, why, why this brand exist, why they're in business, you know, what's their bigger purpose out there.

And, [00:30:00] you know, I, it reminds me of that saying that amateurs have a goal professionals have a process, and that's true if that's when you, when you fall, it serves as a guiding light or a principle. So as you're moving through, you have this process to fall back on, and of course you can break your process if you're a professional, because you know, you made the rules, so you get to break them, but it's so important to just not go, you know, skip steps and ignore and to, to not listen to what people are saying.

Dylan: [00:30:30] Yeah. Yeah. I get so much more jealous. Now, if I'm like scrolling around, looking at design work of the ideas, like a really great idea, that's what will catch my eye, beautiful design, it's all around. But when you get that kind of overlap of purpose and kind of meaning, I think that's, that's the best word.

And that's what kind of stands out in the sea of all the blogs and Pinterest 

Ian: [00:30:56] mess. Yeah. The idea comes to us really when there's clarity, when as a, as a consumer or a user of a product or a service, when you understand what that is. I mean, that's essentially. Great communication. Right? It's the product of the service talking to you or the brand speaking directly to you.

And that's really difficult to hone in on the clarity of that and to communicate clearly what a brand stands for, or even people, you know, as we communicate with one another, can you shed some light into that, of the emphasis that you place on communication with your team and in creativity? Yeah. 

Dylan: [00:31:40] Yeah.

Communication is literally when it comes down to it. That's what I think we do all day long. We do for our clients, obviously. That's why they're coming to us, but we're also doing it ourselves.  And it's a really important part of the success of anyone's work. I think [00:32:00] really great design on its own isn't enough. You have to be able to really clearly communicate the ideas that are driving that work. And be able to explain how they solve the problem that you've been given as true in the studio, like working back and forth. And it's also true when you're presenting to the client. When you're working internally, it's obviously less formal.

Everybody's already kind of on the same page. They know the background. A lot of designers, people familiar with the process, but for us, there's tons of discussion through the process. Now there's like, morning check-ins we have these zoom morning. Check-ins every morning they're sitting down and kind of sketching together, which we've been doing kind of versions of that.

And Figma now. Brainstorming sometimes we'll do hours long zoom calls where we're kind of like spit balling things  or just sketching together and kind of talking back and forth and sharing kind of things we stumble upon. We'd do [00:33:00] pinups. Like our new version of pinups are generally in these kind of shared a keynote files where we're kind of going through what will eventually become the deck that we share with the client.

And when we're putting a deck together to share for a client work, obviously it's more formal. We usually start by picking a format. We used to do a lot of printed books, pre COVID, and we would sometimes do only a printed book. Sometimes we would do a book and the digital deck that we had share on screen.

 The printed book is nice because people that are at the meeting can kind of flip through it and follow along as you're presenting on the screen. And then it gives the. Them  kind of leave behind that they can talk about leave on their desk, refer back to later  when we're building those presentations, whichever format it is, the front of it is where we kind of lay out the problem and we try and build like a Supreme court level argument, or we're [00:34:00] letting out our logic kind of step-by-step page by page.

And each step leads to the next and almost feels inevitable. So if you accept this, then this, if you accept that and then this, and in the back of the presentations, we show the design directions and we just start with a page that introduces each one of those there'll be a title. That'll be kind of like a one-word summation of the whole concept.

Then we usually have a couple of keywords, tonal keywords, usually. And then a longer write-up, that's a couple paragraphs that's like a little bit more inspiring and kind of helps flesh the idea. And then after that, we just show the actual design and it's usually presented in situation. So if you're showing a billboard design, it's in a billboard, it's your Shaunish social media posts that might be animated inside a phone.

And then we present them in person if possible, obviously that hasn't been happening a lot lately, but yeah. Talking in person and being able to [00:35:00] kind of. See people's gestures and read their tone of voice, I think helps you when you're presenting, 

Ian: [00:35:07] I love that idea of this Supreme court sort of building a case, this chain of logic that happens because it almost it's undeniable, you know, as you continue to move forward, you've already built that trust from these check-ins right.

And you've built this, created this case and the story that's so exciting and so true. It's like, you can't go back on it. So that that's really great. And it takes into. Consideration the context, right? It's this very gestalt concept of like, okay. Context matters. And what is in what is in that chain of logic really does matter.

You're trying to create more of a linear journey versus this squirrely zigzag, looky loo that's when things get messy and get knotted up and same thing with communication, you know, if you're not very succinct and direct and you start just kind of scrambling and [00:36:00] meandering, then things get confusing and you got to know what you're trying to say.

You gotta know what you're trying to create. Like what's the idea. Can you fit it on a post-it note? You know, if the idea doesn't fit on a post-it note, it's probably too complicated. 

Dylan: [00:36:14] Yeah. I heard a great interview on NPR a couple of years ago, and it was Francis Ford Coppola and he was just talking about his process and he kind of does the same thing that we do.

He says for every movie, he boils it down to one word and that's his kind of main theme. And that most of the time he's able to make decisions. You know, they come to him with seven trench coats. He can pick the one out that he likes, but he uses it when he gets stuck or when it's something that he's not totally sure about.

He'll just come back to that theme and have that word, help him make the decision. It's it's so funny to hear it about something as seemingly personal and. At the same time, large and complicated as a film. [00:37:00] But  yeah, I mean, I've heard clothing designers talk about that. I think lots of people have a similar technique.

Ian: [00:37:07] Yeah. And even like you were saying with Supreme court or in a court case, you know, every, every side has to thesis, you know, it's like here is the central idea that they continue to come back to, you know, that's, what's driving the case forward and it's similar with what we do with creativity. You know, here's the idea.

Dylan: [00:37:24] Yeah. Always in the back of your mind when you're doing all of this stuff, just looming large over everything should be why.  


You don't have an answer. 


Ian: [00:37:36] Yeah. I think that's what a lot of  companies need as well. Right. When you're creating a brand for them, they need that North star.

They need that mission statement that really guides. Their internal culture, but also allows them to communicate externally to the audience that, Hey, this is what we stand for. And  yeah, we might get innovative come up with new products and services, but this [00:38:00] is what we're here to do. We were talking about communication and the relationship between communication and building relationships, you know, it's like you can't have one without the other and the importance of relationships for emerging creatives, for leaders of companies, for clients, for customers, right.

It's about building strong relationships and that's built upon trust. And so how do you, I mean, as the head of design, how do you nurture building strong relationships within the team and with your clients as well? 

Dylan: [00:38:34] If you zoom out and look at the kind of different models of people working in our industry, there's kind of two approaches.

There's kind of like the lone genius toiling in their room.  And they get hired for their kind of expertise or maybe you come to them for their style that they're famous for. And basically assignments kind of get slid under the door and then they [00:39:00] slide work back out when the check comes through, then that's it.

But there's a cap on the kind of scale of job that you can do alone. I think the second approach, which is probably the most popular working with a really strong team, a strong and diverse team is really smart. And I Gretel, we have about 30 different people. We have super talented teams on strategy, design, motion, production, operations, and as a team where we're able to accomplish things together, that would definitely be impossible on your own and each person's experience and knowledge and interests end up kind of adding richness and depth to the products that you guys are working on together.

I mean, we have people that are like scientific experts in topography. So if you're finishing a word Mark, you need to send it to this person.  We have people that [00:40:00] are excellent at editing. So  if you need an extra eye on a brand rail, you're cutting or something, they can come in and help out people that are really good at naming.

And you never really know what the next project's gonna call for. We had a project last year, a rebrand where a deep knowledge of the golden girls ended up coming in and being really crucial. 

Ian: [00:40:28] That's amazing. 

Dylan: [00:40:29] So I think another one of the biggest benefits is just being able to like talk through your ideas with your team and being able to kind of riff with each other.

And when it's all kind of humming along and kind of going well, there's this kind of comradery that I'm sure is true at your studio and probably a lot of studios and you end up almost feeling like your coworkers are family. And then as far as clients, we have a lot of clients that come [00:41:00] back to us after we do a first job with them, one that I've been working with a lot is Knoll.

 We did our first job for them in 2016. And since then we've done six products together and we've worked together long enough where we kind of developed a shorthand that lets us collaborate more closely and easily. We can get on a call with them and just share like loose sketches or literally talk through like initial ideas.

So that formality that might be there with a first time client, you get to kind of shortcut that because of that relationship 

Ian: [00:41:37] allows you to work so much faster. 

Dylan: [00:41:39] Yeah. Completely. The last project we did for them, we surrounded all four.  Sides of the room with references and writing, and then we just invited them in and kind of kicked the project off as a workshop.

And that probably saved us two weeks. 

Are [00:42:00] those some Knoll chairs behind you? Yeah. 

Yeah. They actually work 

Ian: [00:42:05] doing a little, a little  research. They look good, look good. Yeah. That's a, that's so crucial, right. Building up that trust in which allows you to move faster. And I like saying the best way to build trust is smaller and sooner, not larger and later.

And it's kind of like what you were saying, you know, that you have. Your one camp of creativity, where you get the brief and then you disappear for weeks or months, and then you show up again and sometimes you knock it out of the park. Most often you don't. So how do you mitigate that? Well, you go to the other camp and you have this frequent communication just smaller, but sooner, you know, it's like more frequent check-ins and not in an annoying way, but it's closing in the focus and you're narrowing in on the, you know, you're just distilling the idea faster and you're, co-creating it [00:43:00] with your partners and it's not this like big disappearing.

Dylan: [00:43:03] Yeah. That's the beauty of, we used to do back when we did more broadcast work, we would do more pitches where two or three different companies are basically submitting their solutions to the problem. And in that circumstance, you don't get to do that back and forth. You kind of do have to pick a thing.

Kind of make a, a series of assumptions, hand it to them and hope that it's all gone. Well, that's the beauty of doing work directly with clients. You get to bring them through that process and kind of shape it together. I watched a masterclass with Frank Gary  and he was talking about when he does a residential design with somebody, all the steps that he goes through with them.

And he said, when it goes with best, they feel like they've designed it themselves at the end, even though there's a huge team of people doing drawings and sure. Really complicated [00:44:00] computer renderings and stuff. I think it's true. And they are, the client is an expert on their brand and they know things that you will never know about it.

So it's really helpful to have them there. 

Ian: [00:44:13] Yeah. And that's why it's so crucial, I think. And especially those phases that you outlined around the discovery phase, where you're sitting down and listening and asking questions, you know, sometimes it turns into a therapy session or you might, yeah. You might have different stakeholders in the room where all of a sudden they're, they're getting into heated discussions around what the brand or the strategy should or shouldn't be.

Dylan: [00:44:38] That's exactly why we started doing them with one person at a time. Now all the, all the comments anonymous later, if we show a quote in a deck or something, but then there's no inhibitions and people can kind of like say whatever they want. 

Ian: [00:44:56] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, that [00:45:00] requires a sort of  skilled person.

I didn't know that you also, you were studying sociology and design when you're sharing that in the beginning. 

Dylan: [00:45:08] Yeah. I think they're kind of like the two sides of my brain.  There are literally two sides of my bookshelf. One's sociology, political stack. And then the other side is a lots of design and art books.

There are a few books that kind of between the two, but not. Yeah. 

Ian: [00:45:28] Yeah. Well, I mean, that's great when you look at that Venn diagram, the overlap, right. And that's why I brought that up with, in that phase where sometimes it is a little, a little therapy. It is about clarifying, right. And you don't need to be a social psychologist or a behavioral economists to really get to the essence of, the essence of an idea, or to, to find that clarity, right. It's just about factoring. It's like assigning weights to the importance of problems and solutions. [00:46:00] Cool.  Let's talk about change, 

Dylan: [00:46:03] change the only constant. 

Ian: [00:46:06] That's a fact, 

I mean, with the amount of change that you've seen Gretel go through over the years, what are some, what are some insights like what, what has helped you be adaptable and flexible with not just the changes there at the, at the agency, but with yourself as well, you know, having to adapt to different times, pandemics different clients, different emphasis of creativity.

Dylan: [00:46:31] Yeah. I think for anyone working in the studio, whether they're a designer or not being able to kind of. Be open-minded and embrace change and be adaptable. It's super important. And part of that, for us, as part of our process, we try and start each project without any preconceptions, like we were talking about earlier, you're not trying to sneak letter press printing into this or 3d Chrome or something, especially for [00:47:00] branding.

Like you might be able to get away with that. If it's a birthday invite for your friends, but brandings, it's like a couture suit it's made for an individual and tailored to their exact measurements. Charles Eames used to always say the extent to which you have a design style is the extent to which you have not solved the problem, which is true.

The adaptable thing. I mean, sometimes you'll fall in love with your initial design, those first few sketches that you do, and you kind of secretly hope that it won't change, but it always will because jobs are so long and complicated and there's so many people involved and there's so many aspects that are just out of your control.

It'll change because of the feedback from the client. It'll change from feedback from the creative director, and it'll just always change when you're kind of flexing and adapting it across all the different deliverables that you'll need to make. Sometimes it will have [00:48:00] changed so much in the end that you kind of get nostalgic for where it had been.

But I've found at least for me that if I step back and get a little bit of distance and I compare that very first design presentation, that kind of initial burst to like say the final case study, even if you were kind of pining for that first version. You'll realize how much richer it got through those changes and the different things that the different people add into it, through that process.

Ian: [00:48:33] Yeah. Sometimes  where you end up isn't where you expected to be, but for the better, 

Dylan: [00:48:39] yeah, absolutely good life lesson there. I think it always ends up stronger. 

Ian: [00:48:44] Yeah. So is that something that you look for when you're hiring or when Gretel's hiring, are you looking for people that are adaptable and have this sort of like malleability?

Dylan: [00:48:54] Yeah, I think when I'm looking at the person themselves, definitely that kind of [00:49:00] flexibility also just kind of curiosity and like general enthusiasm is really important. I'm also looking at whether or not they kind of have a range of techniques and kind of mediums and like level of expression then.

That they are capable of, and that they're not just taking the same path over and over again. And when I'm looking at their work, one thing I always look for is strong composition. Something that will catch your eye. If you're walking down the street or scrolling through Instagram and it needs to work, whether they're designing something small, like a business card or something large, like a billboard.

The other thing I always look at because it's the only thing that's completely ours as graphic designers is type our graphy and it's in everything that we do. So I look at [00:50:00] what the type is saying, like their writing skills and also how the type is saying it. And I'll look at it within their work, obviously, but also in things like their project write-ups and the email that they sent us and the thank you that they hopefully send afterwards.

I think that's really telling about the person and their kind of like strength of the logic that's behind everything. Yeah. 

Ian: [00:50:26] I mean, in some of those things, it takes an individual a long time maybe to  build up their toolbox around those things, right? Like, like how to, how to respond, you know, how to not write super long winded emails, like how to be clear, indirect and how to receive.

Feedback and how to give feedback. These are all things that I think we work on forever, forever, yeah. For our entire life. And I mean, as far as, you know, being, being a creative leader and helping guide and mentor the team  whether it's [00:51:00] an intern or, you know, a creative director or senior copywriter, what is your leadership approach?

How do you help people become their best? Like how do you help maximize people's potential 

Dylan: [00:51:11] when you're head of design and you kind of have to wear a lot of different hats and kind of be lots of things to lots of different people. So sometimes you're playing manager, sometimes you're the mentor. Critic curator, educator, engineer, archivists therapist, brighter firefighter, if things are going really bad  your kind of core responsibilities are just like defining territories and design briefs on projects, trying to inspire the team and help kind of crack that big idea with them.

Then you're developing the design and kind of solving any problems that arise. You're trying to build bridges across departments and parts of the studio too. And like you were saying, you're always trying to kind of foster growth, [00:52:00] both of the team and of the studio itself, like the kind of work that you're known for, or the range of styles that you've worked in.

And I'm always trying to build a kind of creative and collaborative environment and. The kind of best way I know is by leading by example, the way that you treat your work and all of your coworkers sets the tone for people that are around you. And part of it is helping guidance, support, less experienced designers.

I always try and inspire the whole team by sharing new tools, new techniques, resources, references. We have a thing we call the Roundup. We do every Friday and we go through what's happening in culture. And then just, did you see this great rebrand that came out?  Or I learned this and the illustrator last week when I was making all these mechanicals, it's so helpful, or look at this new [00:53:00] typeface that came up.

I also try and do things that aren't directly design-related because I think that's really important too. So. Kind of like instigating trips to talks now, digital docs, galleries, now, digital galleries, archives, anything you can do to get out there. And sometimes we've been travel as a group and we'll do something like stop by a sculpture garden, or there's a blue ball in center.

We went down to the loo ball and center as a team once and just kind of sifted through like old sketches from Vanilli and Milton Glaser. That stuff's really exciting old gaugi packaging, some great  stuff in there. 

Ian: [00:53:42] Yeah. It's so important. I was had a conversation last week.  And we were talking about pulling inspiration and she was saying, if you expect to just be able to reach into your inspiration pocket at that exact time when you need it, you're going to be kind of grasping nothing [00:54:00] grasping at air.

Yeah. And you need to just be constantly filling up that box or that bucket of inspiration. All the time. And that should be coming through poetry, through film, through conversations, travel, whatever your means of becoming inspired are, or even little moments of inspiration or whether it's a femora or, you know, something that's got historical significance to it.

Keep putting them in there, put in the archive, put it in the archive. And then when you do need to go in, open up that drawer, the box it's there, you have this huge, you know, wellspring of ideas and creativity. 

Dylan: [00:54:39] Yeah. Princes from a lighting designer or theater designer or architecture. I love architecture.

I'm always looking at architecture. Yeah. That's kind of, what's amazing about our job. The more you know about the world, the more you've taken in it can always apply to your work in some way [00:55:00] that that's even true for skills. If one of your hobbies is photography. It's going to be great for graphic design.

If you are a musician, Greg, for graphic design, almost anything. If you marble paper, it's great for graphic design, anything like that kind of comes in handy at some point. 

Ian: [00:55:18] Yeah. Our head of creative at butchershop Ben McNutt says, you know, he likes pairing these unexpected juxtapositions and you were sharing that as well.

You know, you want to create this tension. It's like, if you have something here, then you want to pair it with something over here. And when we talk about. People and inspiration that I can't help, but apply that to, you know, people's personalities and traits as well. You know, if you're, if you're a really confident person, try listening more, if you're reserved and shy and a little more introverted, try speaking up more and speaking louder and creating this sort of  balance.

I think [00:56:00] confidence is something that's often not spoken about in our industry, you know, and that's what separates leaders from people who continue to stay focused in just a single track or  they have a more, a smaller scope of what they work on. You know, people that have really strong confidence.

They're usually the people that are presenting the ideas and talking through the ideas. And a lot of folks think you either have it or you don't. How do you, I mean, is that something that you focus on? Is that something that you help nurture with everybody on the team? Or do you kind of just like, let people be who they are.

Dylan: [00:56:35] Yeah, I think in general, it's something that everybody's working on all the time. And I think it comes with experience. At least for me, it did. When you're starting out, you kind of just getting familiar with the tools and the process, and it can be pretty daunting because it's not really an exact science and it's this long complicated process.

And there's all these ups and downs kind of can be an emotional roller coaster at times. [00:57:00] There's always other options.  Sometimes it feels like you haven't explored everything that you could have.  You can always make something better. You know, you can noodle one thing all night. And I think with anything creative, there's kind of no way around that, whether it's graphic design or composing or whatever.

And I think if you don't feel those kind of butterflies in your stomach, sometimes you're probably not taking enough risks moving into any new territory.  I think you just have to kind of commit and fully commit to whatever you're doing and that ambiguity and struggle that leads to that kind of feeling of nervousness and doubt ultimately is what makes the thing we do rewarding.

It's kind of a catch 22, but when you come up with that great concept or you have that breakthrough moment on the sketch, or you solve that [00:58:00] technical issue that just came up, it's so rewarding. I think it's why a lot of us do this, all of the struggles that you go through to get there, eventually fade into the background, like when the project's over and all that's left is like what you've accomplished.

And that kind of sense of accomplishment. I think, saying that it does get better with experiences true. And you are always kind of learning and refining your own process, which helps build your confidence. And you get familiar with what's happening during each phase of the project. And you can kind of like see around corners and anticipate something that's coming up that you can braise for.

And you've just been there enough, like you've been at this phase of the project, you know, you've gotten through it and if you look back, you can see how you've gotten through it, which is sometimes helpful. If, if you feel stuck or [00:59:00] feeling 


Ian: [00:59:00] Yeah. We were talking before and you were sharing with me the, the idea by Richard Dawkins about climbing mountain possible.

And I thought that was really, that was a really keen insight because that reflects what you were just sharing about when you feel those butterflies in your stomach. It's like on one hand, hopefully we're not, we're not taking on things that are impossible. You know, we do see the possibility. So there is like light at the end of the tunnel.

So it's not a one-to-one correlation, but I think it is really representative of what motivates people, you know, creatives in the work that we do to, to pursue, to keep going and to yearn for the next project. The next challenge, the next opportunity. And I think that's difficult for people starting off too is maybe, you know, they don't know yet the purpose, like what's the purpose, you know, they just want to make cool shit.

They want to make things that look good or that are catchy. So I don't, can you, I don't want to take words out of your mouth, but. Maybe you can share more about the analogy of [01:00:00] climbing mountain boss. 

Dylan: [01:00:01] Yeah. So Richard Dawkins uses this metaphor for evolution is never an evolutionary biologist. He uses this metaphor of Mount improbable, and he has, I've actually seen    him do like a lecture of this, where he has a mountain and there are all these kinds of crags and different peaks to it.

 Kind of ultimately coming up to a highest peak and he describes evolution as kind of moving up the mountain, kind of blindly up these paths, like evolution doesn't know which of them's going to lead you to the highest peak. And some of those options will hit a certain peak and then they can't go any further.

Another one we'll go a little bit further than it can't go any further. And eventually one of them will reach the top and it's that thing I think of sketching and iterating and just. The importance of exploration and like testing that [01:01:00] range, it's kind of like design, design evolution, like in the end, if you've tried enough of those one will come out ahead and it'll be the strongest.

Ian: [01:01:08] I love that that's so appropriate for the work that we do. Cool. Dylan, I want to jump into our lightning round if you're, if you're open to it,

Dylan: [01:01:17] I feel like there should be like some effects to kind of kick it off

Ian: [01:01:22] cue audio producer. Yeah. Yeah. I just want to fire off some questions to you. First one, what is the best advice that you've ever received? 

 Dylan: [01:01:35] There's one thing that's kind of my design mantra. Now that a professor at college named Alan Mickelson told me it was: the problem is the solution. And I think like a lot of good advice when you hear it at first, you kind of think you understand it, or you might understand it on a kind of superficial level.

And it's only with a little bit of experience that you fully understand and appreciate [01:02:00] what they're trying to tell you. I think at the root of it is just trying to say that you want to find organic solutions that kind of convert what was the problem and to an advantage. And when you're going through that process, that clear you can make the problem.

That's what those first two phases are. Then the clearer your solution will be to get into lab. Think a  lemon out of lemonade is a good example of that. Or lemonade out of lemons. 

There's this necklace that Daniel  Itak a designer and kind of artists had made that I think is like a perfect version of this it's made out of the neck clasps from a necklace.

So it's a string of the neck, the problem with the necklaces, you know, you have to like fish around. So when you look at it from a distance, it looks like just this subtle, like chain necklace. When you zoom 

in, you can take it off wherever you want. 

Ian: [01:02:57] That's amazing. Wow. Cool. [01:03:00] All right.  What's the best advice that you have for others?

   Dylan: [01:03:05] I think mine would be just to do the work. There's no shortcuts. You kind of have to just get up early and work hard all day, especially when you're starting out. You just have to put in those hours. I don't think there's a way around it. Balcom Gladwell has his thing of like 10,000 hours and you can master something, which I think is only like five years of working at something like full time I would say is just the start.

 But yeah, you only get better by doing a lot of work. And each project that you're working on has the potential to be great. Some of them that you work on will turn out good. Some of them will turn out bad. It's inevitable, but when one does turn out less, you know, less good than you wish, just try and look back at it and see what you can learn from it. [01:04:00] And then try it again. 

Ian: [01:04:01] That's great advice. 

Dylan: [01:04:02] I would think about it almost as breaking rocks. It's like tick, tick, tick, keep doing the work. 

Ian: [01:04:10] Do you have  do you have a daily ritual or practice? 

Dylan: [01:04:14] I, I do keep a pretty regimented day and I kind of have like a purposely simple life. It might be the kind of system thinking from work bleeding over into my personal life or my personal life that has turned into my job.

But things that I don't want to think about or deal with, I'll just make a kind of system for, or either that, or cut them out completely. So like, I don't know anything about fashion. It's not something I want to spend time learning about and the thought of like getting up in the morning and. Basically designing a poster that you're going to wear around all day, that express yourself.

Isn't something I'm really interested in. So I just [01:05:00] had this kind of like Helvetica, bold, boring uniform that I wear all the time. So I get out of bed, I put it on and I go onto the next thing. It's just like one less thing that I don't have to worry about. And then something like cutting something out is like social media.

Like I don't have any social media accounts. Don't spend any time on it. And it's just like one less thing to worry about streamlined it out of my day. 

Ian: [01:05:25] Yeah. Okay. Then I'm not going to ask you where people can find you online 

Dylan: [01:05:30]

Ian: [01:05:35] Do you  is there anyone in your career, your, your life that has  you know, greatly influenced you or had an impact on you? Any mentors? 

Dylan: [01:05:46] Yeah. I had some professors in college that really stood out to me and like Alan Mickelson, I mentioned earlier things that have stuck with me through the years, and that has lots of, kind of like heroes [01:06:00] and influences all around art and design.

But I think the people that end up making the biggest impact on you or the people that you work with kind of day in and day out and of those people, I think Greg Hahn, who's the founder of Gretel and Ryan Moore. Who's one of the partners at credible with Greg. I've been working with Greg for 11 years and I've been working with Ryan for 10.

And I have learned a huge amount from both of them about literally every aspect of what we do so far in away. It's going to be those two guys. Awesome. 

Ian: [01:06:34] Greg's the man, I haven't, haven't had the pleasure to meet Ryan, but  yeah, Greg's got a lot of, a lot of wisdom to share. 

Dylan: [01:06:41] Yeah. We'll have to have you by the studio when it opens up one day, 

Ian: [01:06:45] love that, love that. What's been the biggest obstacle or challenge in your career. I mean, we talked about mentors, you know, they help you get through challenges and give you this  you know, kind of mentorship, give you good advice, but [01:07:00] any, any big challenges that.  Stick out to you. 

Dylan: [01:07:04] Yeah. The biggest one to me is unfortunately immovable and it's time.

Generally speaking for me, at least the more time I put into something, the better results I get. It's not always true. Kind of what we were talking about earlier. Sometimes the first thing you do does end up being that best thing that makes it through, but you kind of want to know that by exploring thoroughly enough.

And you can also always try other approaches or refine what you're working on further, but eventually time always runs out and he has to move on. There are a couple of things you can do and get better at one of the things is just learning how to manage your own time, how to like plan your work and prioritize tasks is really helpful.

Knowing when to let something go, like when to cut something off and when to dig deeper can help save a lot of time. And then to me, at least knowing what parts of a project it's worth putting in that extra time has [01:08:00] been really good. And I think also just generally the more experience you have, the more efficient you get.

So I remember when I had done those two internships, that thing. That was most surprising to me was the speed that everybody worked at. And it's not like a year later I woke up and was at that level. But if you stick at it long enough, you build up your kind of repertoire shortcuts and you get more efficient.

Ian: [01:08:26] I agree with that a hundred percent. When and where do you find yourself coming up with your best ideas? 

Dylan: [01:08:32] For me coming up with ideas generally is kind of like sculpting. You're kind of like always adding and subtracting clay. It's that more linear ish process that we just kind of talked about earlier.

If I do get struck by like that lightning bolt of inspiration, which is more rare, it tends to be when I'm at the beginning of the lab phase. And I kind of know more or less everything there is to know about the [01:09:00] problem and. Just floating around the back of my head. Generally, it tends to be, if I'm doing something where I'm like physically preoccupied, a lot of times it's like, if I'm riding the subway, just kind of like zoned out.

Or if I'm like brushing my teeth and like my, the department, those are the times that I've had some breakthroughs. And if you're really lucky, a couple of times I've had like fully formed ideas where you're like scrambling to grab a piece of paper and sketch them down. But yeah, generally it's, it's not the lightning bolt. It's the sculpting. 

Ian: [01:09:35] Yeah. Yeah. Like you said, show up, do the work. 

Dylan: [01:09:38] Yeah. 

Ian: [01:09:38] That's how you break through. 

Dylan: [01:09:39] So true. 

Ian: [01:09:41] Cool. What would you tell your 18 year old self? If you could go back and have a chat with young Dylan 

Dylan: [01:09:47] when you're 18, you're like just beginning to become your future self. And you're kind of stepping out into the world and like into the driver's seat for the first [01:10:00] time.

You're leaving high school. So you have more freedom. You're like discovering new things, making new friends, thinking about the future. I think first I would like ask myself a couple of questions. Just like, what are you curious about? Like, what are you most interested in? Like what are you spending your free time on?

That's always a good clue of like what you should pursue. Another thing, because it was so important to me in the end is where do you want to live? Maybe now with us being quarantined, that's not as important at least right now, but for me, that was a big filter I could use to cut out 80% of the studios and the US, because I know I'm going to New York, then I'd just tell myself, try lots of different things  like going to Rome, studying abroad, and then just pursue whatever you're interested in.

Like, don't worry what other people are doing or what they might think. If you want to try and combine, I dunno, [01:11:00] theater and Polka, whatever it 

Ian: [01:11:06] might not be done yet, 

Dylan: [01:11:08] that might be the only thing that hasn't been done. 

Ian: [01:11:13] Amazing. Great. That's great advice for a 18 year old Dylan and other 18 year olds out there.

Dylan: [01:11:19] Yeah, I don't think I'll eve be 18 again. So hopefully that helps somebody else. 

Ian: [01:11:23] Never know one day. Cool. What do you  what are you reading and streaming these days? 

Dylan: [01:11:29] I was thinking about this a couple of days ago. I think in COVID like inadvertently, I've been leaning towards non-fiction things. Mostly I just finished reading a day or two ago.

 This book by Manning Maribel, that's a kind of a political biography of Malcolm X. It came out in 2012.  And one that field's surprised he worked on it for like 20 years and it. It would have been just an amazing feat to put this thing together when you're reading through it, it [01:12:00] reads like fiction almost as like such a strong narrative and so many details that you can't believe that he tracked down.

That was really, really good. I just handed it off to my sister and I'd recommend anybody reading that. Great. And then the last thing I streamed  was a documentary that just came out called George Nakashima woodworker. He's amazing. Yeah. He's so good. In non COVID times, you can actually go out to new hope and Pennsylvania and tour  the buildings that he built and see the woodworkers still building the furniture that he designed.

Wow. Same thing. I think it was a labor of love. They've been working on it for something like 20 years and you can stream it online. 

Ian: [01:12:40] Great. I'll check that out. I'll watch that tonight. He's so good. 

Dylan: [01:12:44] Yeah. He's, he's one of my favorites. Great. And if you don't have his book  the life of a tree, that's great too.

Ian: [01:12:51] Awesome, Dylan. Hey. It's been great chatting with you, man. Thank you so much for your time. We already know where to find you 


[01:13:00] Yeah. Thanks Dylan. 

Dylan: [01:13:01] Yeah. Thanks Ian. It was really fun.

Ian: [01:13:06] Thanks for listening to this episode of frequencies. You enjoyed it. Share it with a friend and head over to Apple podcast. To leave a review and a comment you can find us online at world's greatest and butcher See you out there.

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