Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
By Kinzie Burke
12 — 14 — 2019
Last week I took the long journey home for Thanksgiving. On my plane from San Francisco to Charlotte, I couldn’t help to observe the man sitting next to me (the plane seats are so tight nowadays, I promise I wasn’t originally snooping or intentionally visually eavesdropping). The man in the middle seat was jumping from design program to design program on his laptop. He went from editing a script, to reviewing a storyboards, to leaving comments on a finalized animation. As I was side-eyeing and sneaking a peeks from over my phone while watching “Get Out,” I was fascinated by his workflow as I diverted my eyes from one of my airplane movie selections that trip. Periodically these peeping eyes caught glimpses of how he worked. Later in the flight, he sparked a conversation asking me how I liked “Get Out” – See I told you the airplane seats are so tight you can’t help but see other people’s screens. I responded and followed up with “if you don’t mind me asking, what is your job position? You have been working such a wide variety of programs.” He told me that he was a Co-Founder and VP and that he had previously worked for Pixar but he recently co-founded his own animation studio in Berkeley. I told him that his work was fascinating and that it was intriguing to watch him touch so many aspects of the process and watch his workflow. We talked about his journey and how he got to the point of starting his own animation studio. In turn, he asked me about what I did, about WGI, and about what I see myself doing after the program – that’s the question isn’t it?
I landed in NC safe and sound, greeted by my family and after a short stint in baggage claim, we headed to the family car. Leaving the Charlotte airport the radio was turned on to country (I despise it – but hey, “when in the south…”) As I reluctantly listened to the lyrics coming from the radio, some of them stood out…
“Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears, and I’ll do it better in my next thirty years…”
“Find a world of happiness without the hate and fear, figure out just what I’m doin’ here in my next thirty years”
(My Next 30 Years)
My next 30 years. wow. (sidenote: I’m 23 – I just learned that the creative directors at w2o thought Na and I were under 21, now they know but still call us kids) My next 30 years! Lately I have been grappling with the question of “What do I see myself doing after WGI?” Life is so twisty-turny. Really, look at me now – from just having had been given 24 hours to join WGI to, three months later in San Francisco and about to end the program. What is the next twist or turn I am going to make? Long nights talking to Es, Hannah, and Na about our next steps in the journey. Learning from Youtube about the ikigai – Figuring out the crossroads of what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs, and what we can get paid for – individually. Thinking seriously about goals and aligning them with intentions. So much to think about before we depart.
As the weeks wind down here in San Francisco, I find myself being so grateful for this experience because it has accelerated my learning and my knowledge about my personal and business sense. My morning commute into the city on “cute train cars” as Na calls them. We wind down the “Park Persido” roads, the coastal gnarled trees act as a curtain revealing the Golden Gate every morning wishing that my next steps will reveal themselves to me as in the same way. Moving on boldly and seeing the end in sight I cannot help but think about the courage it took the plane’s middle-seat-man to step out on his own and create his own animation studio. The amount of chutzpah it takes to trust the journey and step out in faith to start something new, and sept into the next step of your journey is what I am about to do. Wherever the next train, plane, or automobile (or any assorted public transportation) takes me on my professional journey, in the next 30 years I will create with humor, courage, and chutzpah.
As I find myself at the last stop, W2O San Francisco I can say that time really does fly. It has been a long journey since it all started at Koto, Berlin. The goal that I had set on the very first day was to learn about creative business. I knew I would be working in different creative companies and getting to see how each of them operates. I asked, listened, and observed at every stop—everyone has their own way—but one thing that they agree on is “Design is a business”.
Starting with Koto, a young branding studio that is rapidly growing. I wondered what their strategy was behind their growth and I started asking questions. There are 2 main key elements: One—a good relationship with big brands and start-ups alike. Prior to starting Koto the founders were working in different studios and developed good relationships with large clients who later helped finance the early days of the studio. Two—their design approach—which is simple, joyful, with an added human touch that they always manage to embed into the brands they design. This approach makes the brand design (especially tech-start-up brands) look and feel different. It makes them stand out in this competitive branding business.
Listen is a good example as it is a venture capital firm—you can see it as a business from the beginning. What really is interesting is how they integrate design into their venture capital business. They see design as an investment, as they invest in early stage consumer brands. They use design to grow the brand faster and stronger. The team’s advertising background helped them not only elevate the look and feel of products, but also design seamless user interfaces for brands they are investing in.
W2O is the biggest agency in this journey and the largest company that I have worked for. W2O is centered in the health care world and leverages PR, marketing, data analysis, and creative to set the clients apart from their competitors. It is so different from the others in term of size and specific market. Because of this, their hierarchy inside the agency is quite relevant and important. The company started as a PR firm and as they continued to meet the needs of their clients they found that they needed to add additional services. They eventually acquired a creative agency and other companies—then later established a holding company, which is now W2O as we see it.
Writing this blog made me realize how much I have learned about the business of design on this journey. The business side is something that I had never learned in school, but it is the most important thing to know to survive in this competitive industry. It is great!
The Last Dining Experiences in Chicago:
– As our time at Listen came to a close, the Listen team took Na and I out for BBQ and I was reminded of home and of the southern staple (even though it didn’t come close to real North Carolina BBQ. they tried). The food was stick-to-your-ribs good and the smell of smoked meat lingered on my jacket through the end of the week. BBQ was served at long, picnic-style tables As I looked down the stretch of table, I saw all the smiling faces of my talented coworkers that made my time sweet and bestowed on me their knowledge and their company I felt blessed to have known them and to have experienced their perspectives.
– A few days earlier I said goodbye to my church community that I built in Chicago. My small group brought me out to dinner and Jeni’s Ice Cream. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten so close so fast with friends that I had met. I went into the program not knowing anyone and just as I was feeling comfortable with the new community of friends, it was time to leave.
– My last meal with Listen was at a Nike popup where I had the most Chicago experience – the restaurant was rebranded to feature “The Most Chicago” food and sports memorabilia in one room, I realized how much you can’t see and experience in a town like Chicago in just 2 months. At the popup there were two boisterous and hilarious fry chefs bantering back and forth with us in thick Chicago accents. I’m going to miss the midwest with their passion, attitude, and spunk!
– After work Brentos, our creative director at Listen, took us out for drinks, we talked about how he curated the Listen office space, his advice for honing in the craft of typography, and about his journey to Listen.
On the last day in the Listen office I discussed my fears about going to San Francisco with Lucy, the amazing office manager and my desk buddy at Listen. I told her about what I had recently read about SF which had gotten me concerned… the earthquakes, wildfires, forced power outages, dirty streets, and thousands of tarantulas descending on the city… she interrupted my long line of research and fears and eased my apprehensions by telling me “just picture it as Full House.”
Full House, set in SF, was one of my childhood favorites – I had the entire box set. Now that I think of it, one of my favorite things about Full House was the moments that the ragtag group of personalities sat down together, family and friends gathering around one table.
I am so blessed to be invited to the table in the design community – invited to the table with my new friends Hannah and Es, and invited to the table by coworkers and companies. These conversations over food and drink have been the ones I will remember most. More times than we’d like, we get so caught up in work and designing at our desks, we bring our food and eat it at our desks. In the hurriedness of the workday we edge out communal eating and in turn don’t get to have meaningful conversations with people around us and miss out on insights, lessons, and opportunities for connection.
While now living in San Francisco I want to foster this idea and practice, and gather around a table and break (SF sourdough) bread, ask coworkers to grab coffee and get to know people in the time that I have here.
A venture capital firm is something that I would not have ever signed up for. It seems so financial oriented and math-related that totally scares the shit out of me. But being at Listen for two months opened up so many doors for me and totally changed my mind.
Listen is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage consumer brands. They back and build brands of the future and hope one day those brands turn into the next multi-billion dollar businesses making a killing in returns. I didn’t really understand how it works until recently I finally did. YAY!
The risk to invest in these companies are high, and that’s why deep research is mandatory focusing on consumer behavior, cultural trends, market growth, competitors, law and legislation and of course design and advertising. I have been designing for quite a while, but I’ve never had access to this much information before. There are just so many decks about different markets and brands that I love to read and go through, trend prediction books, revenue, and numbers to new and innovative products being brought into the office every week.
Being exposed to these alone is so fascinating to me, but having all the experts around you is the next level. They just know so much and I always feel stupid asking them questions. But, I have learned so much from that stupidity. These things are not only great creative inputs for my design but also making me live my life critically and understanding people around me better.
After a while being at a VC firm, now everything VC interests me. I recently just finished an audiobook Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Issac. It talks about the rise and fall of Uber one of the biggest players in Silicon Valley. It’s unexpectedly interesting and I have learned a lot about the VC and start-up world.
A piece of advice that Ryan, a creative director at Listen, gave early on was to put myself in situations that I don’t belong in. Navigating new surroundings and office climate it’s not hard to bring this advice to life.
One of the phrases they use in the Listen office is “raising your hand.” At first this notion seemed juvenile and intimidating – I was accustomed to this in school settings, asking questions and receiving advice came so naturally – I don’t know why it is a stumbling block in work culture. Perhaps this might stem from feeling that in a professional setting I need to know the path/direction, all the answers, and how to use software now that I am out of school. The vulnerability of asking “a superior” and the fear that I might look lacking is intimidating.
I have had to become more and more aware, asking questions, asking for clarification, and trying to break from being meek. I need to keep reminding myself that my creative directors have ten plus years of design experience than I do and some designer out there has ten plus more years than they do. I have so many more years to be honing my craft, figuring things out, failing, and learning through the process. I am transforming, getting stronger, and looking challenges dead in the eye. Through this experience at WGI I have the ability to grow as a designer and learn how to assert my voice, adapt to workplace dynamics, and be vulnerable – all of these lessons will make me a better employee.
Walking into work one morning I spotted a man teetering on tall scaffolding, arm raised high over his head and in his hand was a spray can. Each morning I pass walls and walls of colorful graffiti on the way to work but I had never seen any local graffiti artists in the action. The stretches of graffiti, each with their own character, style, and story greet me every day. Each artist has something they want to show the world and want to believe their tag has permanence and meaning. As we are coming to a close here at Listen in Chicago, I have been thinking about how will I leave my mark in the design world, this community, and life in general.
As I look closer, each piece of graffiti evolves and blends into the next. The man with outstretched arm is covering up the graffiti under his new piece. The good thing about street art and creating “lasting” marks is that it can be renewed/revamped/reworked and spray-painted over. In my career I’ll have a new thing I want to share in every leg of my life…maybe daily. Ask me again in ten years and my “tags” will have evolved every time I raise my hand and grow.
“Listen What is it exactly?” I ask myself while scrolling through the website. Hmm venture capital…b-o-r-i-n-g. What exactly am I going to be doing there, putting together decks or maybe spreadsheet stuff? To be honest I have no idea. I can’t do math so it’s gonna be real bad if that’s the case. All of those questions keep going round and round in my head for weeks.
Fast forward to the first day at Listen, the office is nothing like what I expect. I am walking into a spacious, high-ceilinged, American loft building with posters and skateboards hang on the wall. There are boards pinned with design references, images, pantone cards and decks all over. Hmm interesting.
I am assigned to work on design and animation, everything I do feels like I am working at a creative agency having Brentos and Ryan as my creative directors. Until I start to listen. Jeff and Rick, our founder and head of investments, are talking to investors about the companies we are investing in. Joelle, head of brand platform, is working on brand research, creating content for brands. A week in at Listen I have seen so many faces. Lucy works on administration. Scott works on social media marketing. And so many more..
After many conversations with everyone, all the dots start to connect. I see the bigger picture of what Listen really is. It’s nothing like the traditional venture capital idea I had in the back of my head. Listen is not only financially investing into companies, but using different expertise from finance, creative, branding, marketing to help companies grow as a form of investing too. And finally I know what exactly listen is.
Story and Design by Naspock Edited by Kinzie
In 24 hours my life got turned upside down.
I was contacted to join WGI in an email which included the phrase “I would need to know ASAP” – ASAP meaning a 24-hour decision on my part. I have always been one to mull over things, make a pro/con list, think about the intricacies and implications of my decisions but there was no time for that.
Who does this, drops everything in a day and moves to a place they have never been, a place where they don’t know a soul – I guess I just did. I practice adaptability in design all the time but it’s a different story when applied to major life decisions.
In an instant I was throwing all the business casual wear I owned into a suitcase and seemingly the next I was lugging my belongings up the stairs to meet Na in our new humble abode for two months.
What can I say, it’s been a whirlwind week in the windy city: from learning public transportation, walking routes, laundromats, and surrounds, to getting settled at Listen and listening in on their intelligent discussions about the future of businesses, current events, and “what ifs”.
Currently at Listen I have been trying to iterate on different social media designs and assets for their revolutionary client. The style is not like anything I have approached before, and the freedom to iterate and explore the brand at hand has been refreshing and challenging at the same time – much like my time here in Chicago has been so far.
So what do you do when you have less than 24 hours to make a decision on what will impact you for the next several months and no time for a typical pragmatic approach? I Google searched the area and found that Listen was located on Kinzie St. – my name must be all over this experience, I will claim this place as my own. I thought to myself:
Maybe it’s a sign.
Cover in collaboration with Naspock
Things don’t always go as planned in life, which is normal. Otherwise the word ‘plan’ wouldn’t exist, things would just work. Sometimes you get thrown a curveball, and need to learn to pivot.
Enter WGI. The plan was to go from Berlin to Montreal, to Chicago, to San Francisco. The plan. Life gave me Berlin and Montreal, and then a curveball. A ball shaped like a working visa for the US, or more specifically, I wasn’t thrown that ball at all. Sadly, this means I’ve had to dip out of WGI, as this expedition has grown to be less worldwide and more Europe-centric with some Canadian spice thrown in. Better learn to pivot.
Instead of moving on to Listen in Chicago, I’ve gravitated back to Koto Studios in Berlin, where I’ll be writing nice things till the middle of October. Can’t get rid of me it would seem.
I’ve learned new things and a lot about myself, and the following is my completely biased, ungrounded advice. Stay hungry. Say what you mean. Back your own ideas. Hone your craft. Own your craft. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
Thank you WGI. Thank you Butchershop. My life has been changed forever.
If you’d like to keep up with my extended Germanic journey, follow me on Instagram @tomlander_.
Berlin is a city of great things. From its diverse cuisine, museums and world-class exhibitions, to its history and good people. But there’s one thing that makes Berlin truly special; it once was home to Bauhaus, one of the most influential art and design movements of all time. This year is the centennial anniversary of Bauhaus, since it was founded in 1919.
The Bauhaus was founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius, which moved to Dessau, followed by Berlin in 1932. At that moment the school was run by a legendary architect name Ludwig Mies van de Rohe, before it was closed under the pressure of the Nazi party, still in power at the time.
Bauhaus influences can be seen everywhere; from primary color in graphic design to geometric forms in furniture and architecture. Many design ideas from Bauhaus like “form follows function” or “human-centric design” are still discussed and used today.
Bauhaus is not only rooted deeply in modern and contemporary design, it influenced a lot in design education as well. The process of experimenting and design critics in most of design school was originally picked up from the Bauhaus approach to analysis.
For me, Bauhaus aesthetics play a big part in my identity as a designer and my design approach. Bauhaus has influenced the last almost-century of design, and I’m excited to see where it continues to grow, and how it will continue to change design in the future. Long live Bauhaus.
Image by Naspock, words by Tom Lander
Berlin is a place of good fortune, and of things that feel out of place. Like two kids from the other side of the world. And steering wheels on the wrong side of cars. And cars on the wrong side of the road. And lakes in the middle of cities. And eating Vietnamese for dinner and getting two Chinese fortune cookies. Crunch. Rustle. Written in English.
‘Your life will be flowery’ said one. ‘Your life will be flowery’ said I. I suppose it means bright, and zingy, and fresh. But flowers of every kind grow in every direction. Some grow towards the sun, some grow and wilt within a day. Some hide from the day and bloom only to the moon. Flowery is a terrible way to describe something. Give me specifics, cookie.
What kind of flowery does this smug piece of paper mean. Maybe it means flowery like how a flower’s petals spread out over the land, providing soothing shade to the little creatures that run through the grass underneath it. That’s nice, isn’t it. I like that. Or maybe it means flowery like crazy, like thinking a piece of paper wrapped in a biscuit knows something you don’t.
‘Great fortune will kiss you in the year of the pig’ said the other. Equally as interesting, but from a cookie I did not crack, thus a fortune that’s not mine.
A kiss from a pig for a flowery life. I don’t know what any of it means, but for some reason it feels like these cookies are patting us on the back and telling us to keep going.
So keep going we shall.
After what feels like a lifetime spent packing, unpacking, procrasti-packing, and repacking, I’m standing in front of these giant sheets of glass watching the planes take flight. Another journey is about to begin. I call Mom, as I always do in this moment. If that plane goes down, then the world would remember me as a good and caring son. At least that’s what Mom would tell them. I beeline to the gate to get on board, only to find out that the flight has been delayed due to an overflow of planes on the runway. Three hours, terrible turbulence, and a can of sour cream and onion pringles later, I land safe and sound in Berlin airport.
I order my Uber, and it snakes through the streets from the airport to Mitte, slows, and parks right next to the Uber head office on Brunnenstraße. An uber parked next the uber. Little things like that always make me smile. This is where me and my soon to be bff Tom are going to spend our first week together. I pick up my phone and text him “I am here”. “Sweet I’ll chuck some shoes on and come down,” he says. I’m nervous. I finally get to see who I’m going to spend the next six months with. Oh, he is cute! I give him a big big hug and have a little chat. A minute later we both struggle carrying my two heavy ass suitcases up five damn floors. This is a good sign. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, Tom seems like someone I can count on.
After the morning run to get myself ready for the first day at the studio, Tom and I catch the train to Charlottenburg. We find ourselves in front of the old but gold building, buzzing the Koto bell. Somebody says “Hallo” and the door opens. Spooky. We climb the stairs up to the first floor and meet our English creative director, Tim, and another English senior designer, Fred. I thought we were in Germany, why is everyone English? This studio is full of the Queen’s english. Like Buckingham Palace. We spend our morning setting everything up and running to get all the staff coffee. Joking. Kind of. Tim talks us through Koto and what they do, and I’m amazed by the calibre of the work they’ve done, from Fanta, to Airbnb to BlaBlaCar. After lunch I start working on a big branding project, researching and sketching. I can’t say much about the project, but it is a good first day. Our time at Koto is going to be great, I can feel it.
The first week passes by, and it’s time for us to say goodbye to our lovely apartment in Mitte. Charlottenburg is calling. All my bags are packed and ready to go, and we take the stairs down. We both struggle carrying my two heavy ass suitcases down five damn floors. Tom’s last handle snaps off his suitcase before we even hit the ground floor. I laugh. I order my Uber, and it snakes through the streets from Mitte to Charlottenburg, slows, and parks. We get the key to our new apartment, and we both struggle carrying our three heavy ass suitcases up five damn floors. Deja Vu. I guess if it ain’t hard, it ain’t life.
Story by: Naspock Edited by: Tom Lander
Introducing the wonderful journey of Na Rojanusorn @naspock and Tom Landers @tomlander_. Together they are on Track 1 of World’s Greatest Internship. They’ll journey to Koto in Berlin, Factry in Montreal, Listen in Chicago, and W2O in San Francisco.
We asked them a few questions to understand what makes them tick.
What drives your creative process—why do you do what you do?
Na: aesthetics always freshen up my day
Tom: I do what I do to change behavior for the better, and, the industry from the inside; a rebel with a good cause
In 5 words or less: what are you looking to learn from WGI?
Na: I am looking to learn more about design, culture, design tools and business.
Tom: global street smarts
One thing that I have been doing more than usual in the past few months is cooking. I enjoy the process of sourcing and preparing the ingredients for a meal. Wandering through the aisles in a supermarket, chopping things up and then watching everything turn from raw to cooked is an enjoyment and accomplishment. All the while there is the lingering thought of a satisfying meal soon to be ready. Cooking is also a very light but active form of exercise. My body is in motion, my hands are busy, I think my endorphins are released when I cook.
I realize that when I’m cooking, I’m practicing how to design. When I browse through an aisle at a grocery store, I’m sourcing all the content that I’m going to give form to. The grocery store is my internet browser, my library. On my way back home, I begin to think about how I’m going to enjoy this meal. This gets me excited. I start preparing the ingredients. I get my culinary tools. The knife, the peeler, the scissors, sometimes other shiny stuff. Then I begin to dice, chop, peel and cut the potatoes, the carrots, the onions, the sausage… Sometimes I forget an ingredient, so I head out again. Then I turn on the stove, heat up the pan, and it’s action time! I grease the pan and start to add the ingredients, one after another. Slowly, the ingredients mingle and mix with each other and gradually began to look like something I have been imagining. Sometimes it doesn’t. With practice, I’m able to adjust the flavor to my own taste without precise measurement, but it’s still on point. Usually, I know a meal is going to be good before I try it because I have made it so many times before. Other times I’m unsure until I have actually tasted it because I’m trying out a new ingredient, a new soup base. Occasionally, I feel unsure until someone else tries it and reaffirms that it’s excellent. A meal can turn out to be revolting, hard to swallow. Occasionally there is room to save a meal (diluting a bowl of overly salty noodle can reverse it to an extent, for example) but sometimes I have to abandon and try again a different time.
Some specific themes have been reoccurring in all the places I’ve been and the projects I’ve had the chance to work on lately. And because I keep noticing these themes, that means they’re important and I should continue to look out for them and the places they may lead me.
To be more specific, I’ve had multiple interactions with gradients and building blocks across all the studios I’ve been at so far. My first interaction with these elements was at Butchershop while working on a branding project for a new company. The initial direction I was helping to develop focused on creating connections via the brand elements and using them as building blocks. But the direction that ended up catching the eye of the client was a gradient that radiated from the main icon.
The next instance of interaction with these elements was upon our arrival to Gretel. The project I was placed on was for a long standing company that was in the market for a rebrand after having the same look for over 40 years! My team had developed 2.5 (meaning 1 and 2 and 2b) directions they were focused on and again, the direction I landed was the one that incorporated building blocks coming together to form the new brand and represent the creative components that they develop for the people who then use those parts to create something entirely different.
Now, touching down at the last stop of Koto’s Los Angeles office, the gradient finds me again as a piece in one of the direction proposals they are working for a v cool human-centered company. The gradient presents itself to me again and again.
I wonder what this means for me, for design trends, for ideas? I think it speaks to this whole experience and how things are constantly changing and becoming something new. Koto has just set up shop in their new space and it’s very cool. Seeing this and working constantly with pieces is a reminder that EVERYTHING is a work in progress. It’s definitely reaffirming to see and notice but how does it translate in a way that I can use to grow myself into the person I want to be, in the direction I want to go?
I’m well on my way to finding out!
This is one of those moments. One of those moments when I’m just beginning to see things more clearly and finally beginning to feel like I’m in the right place doing the right thing. And before I know it, my time here, for now at least, is up. New York was too short. Missing everything about you, from your crowdedness to your livelihood and all that in between. And before I can bid a proper farewell, I’m already in Los Angeles. I pack everything you’ve given to me and everything I can take from you, some inside my luggage and some inside my head, and I’m back to where I started. It can feel a little disorienting. Things can feel like they are in a mix. But I bring back some realizations and conclusions drawn from my four months of hustling. I sift through them and I try to adapt once again. There are still pieces and bits here and there waiting to be organized but I have a more equipped toolbelt to pull from. I feel different, is what I’m trying to say. Better. More confident and competent to do what I need to do. Last stop. Less than two months left. Much to look forward to.
New York…what can be said about New York that hasn’t already been said a million times before. I got to experience so much amazing food, art, and fashion during my time there AND got the opportunity to work at one of my dream studios.
I’ve been interested in working at Gretel since I saw the Viceland rebrand they did a few years ago and having this opportunity fall into my lap felt perfect! I got to work side by side with award-winning designers as a part of the team. I also got the chance to learn more about the freelance world and what makes a brand truly have the legs to go the distance!
While the art, food, and events were all great (like fucking amazing, truly). One thing that I really valued was being able to spend time with my fellow WGI-ers Qiang, Hannah, and Es and getting to know them better over delicious shared meals and learning and relearning how to navigate the subways for train rides to unique sights unseen.
I could say so much more in this post but like I said before, what’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? And with that I’ll leave short, sweet, and to the point. I love NY. I really do, and until we meet again, the fond memories will stick with me for a lifetime.
P.S. Onward and upwards to Koto LA!
One of the first places I visited after settling down in our apartment was the Strand Book Store. I thought I could perhaps find a book about NYC and learn more about the city that I’ll be spending the next two months in (I had been in the city for a few days on a trip earlier in March, got a taste of it but never knew much about it). I wandered around the bookstore and saw this book in a large, golden case, which immediately drew my attention, it’s called Capital. It’s a collection of quotes sourced from newspaper articles, novels, memoirs, among other documents, all about New York and organized into categories. Here are some quotes from a few pages I’ve bookmarked:
(From a chapter called Flâneur):
“The city is so accommodating for the exploration of identity that it is a place of doubles, where the individual can be both self and other, where he can become an underground man and go unnoticed and where his secrets can remain secrets.”
(Another one from a chapter called Psychogeography):
“‘Americans have practically added a new dimension to space,’ a British journalist wrote in 1899, ‘when they find themselves a little crowded, they simply tilt a street on end, and call it a skyscraper.'”
I liked this book because I can start on any page and any section that interested me. Every paragraph or sentence can be an individual story about the city. Also, books are kind of everywhere in the city, too:
We visited Chinatown in Lower Manhattan a few days after on a rainy afternoon. Chinatowns across the cities that I’ve visited seem to have some things in common: colorful and vertical signages in calligraphic characters, red lanterns, and a game of chess going on somewhere. At this moment it’s happening on the sidewalk…
Gretel! 7th floor on 3 West 18th St. I have been working with some of the most talented, ambitious, and generous people here. Working in New York City feels very different compared to our last stop in San Francisco. The city’s geography and the fact that we live roughly 10 minutes of walking distance away from the studio means I can practically wake up at 9:00 every morning (what a luxury! which I have been tempted to take advantage of) and still have plenty of time to get to the studio. I have a totally different sense of time here. There is practically no commute, which means there could be a lot of time to explore the city both before and after work.
One of my favorite spots in the studio. Gretel’s ACD Simon (who also seems to be a talented florist) has been kindly picking up flowers from Union Square on Monday mornings to freshen up the studio.
In late September, I visited the New York Art Book Fair and discovered many, many great books. I only bought a couple since I have to travel back to Los Angeles in a few weeks and didn’t want to overload my luggage. Thinking that I will just remember the other books I wanted to buy and find them online. As resourceful as the internet is, there is so much that cannot be found online. Many of these books I thought I could easily find turned out to have been published exclusively in print, with no information at all on the internet. Gretel certainly knows better. Research for a project involves going offline and visiting relevant and available print archives that may not have been digitized. The image above was taken during a visit to The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design & Typography.
In my first year in undergrad, I took a typography class with an assignment to create a series of CD covers, a custom typeface, and a poster around a song. I picked the song Chelsea Hotel No.2 by Leonard Cohen. Some of those cover designs were based on the hotel’s signage. Two years later, I got to see this song in life. One of the charms of this city is the fact that so many artists I admire have worked and created here. The artistic energy of this city accumulates never ceases to grow. Their spirits linger and continue to affect those that come after them.
Notes on NYC by others:
I am a list person. That’s one thing I’ve always known about myself.
I like to make lists for literally everything! I make lists about projects I want to do, photos I want to make, places I want to go, etc. I make lists regrading, artists to check out or movies to see (287 and growing) and just about any other creative idea or otherwise, becomes a list of its own.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of lists I’ve made over the years are sitting in the Notes app on my phone collecting digital dust and therefore never evolve into anything tactile that can live in the ‘real world’. My lists are slowly growing into a personal archive of lists showcasing the lists i have of other lists.
This list archive I inadvertently created creates tension with the whole purpose of why I began writing lists in the first place. It began as a process that helped me manage my daily tasks and turned into a collection of a collection of ideas.
I never really thought about how many lists I have until on a recent call with Ian, we were talking about being proactive and taking initiative and he said the phrase:
Planners don’t get shit done.
In the process of making all these lists, I’ve forgotten the purpose of the lists in the first place. To get shit done. Lists to me are a way to break down what feels like a lot of tasks, ideas, or things into more manageable and actionable steps. Simplifying the process.
I don’t know how but that group of words burned itself into my brand and since then I’ve been more focused on the do. Just doing shit and getting shit done. It’s so much easier to make excuses as to why we can’t do something, lists have been a precursor to my excuses; but what i’ve noticed about the people I meet and look up to most is the fact that while they do have their own constraints they mostly just DO the thing. That is a mentality I have been, and hope to continue, carrying forward with me as I move on to the next steps of being.
Anyway, the moral of this long winded story is if you really wanna do something, just do it! Do your googles, learn a new skill, and if it comes out ugly, that’s just part of the process but you have to just do.
“the phrase a drop in the ocean, refers to something that it is a very small amount which is unimportant compared to the cost of other things or is so small that it has very little effect on something”
Over the short time I’ve been on this journey, I’ve found that often times I become fascinated or obsessed with certain phrases. Most of the times it’s less about the actual phrase itself but more so about what it implies.
When I look at a glass of water, or any body of water for that matter, you don’t notice the individual drops. You just notice the water, it becomes homogenous, you can’t really tell one drop from another and it becomes less about the drops but more about the water. This idea of being a drop in an ocean speaks to my longing to have a place where I feel like I belong. In New York I feel that more than I have in a while.
Therefore, being a drop in an ocean is a very interesting phrase to me. Depending on how we interpret it, it could mean we’re just another face in the crowd (which isn’t really a bad thing in my opinion) but I also see it as a play on words that can speak to being flexible and learning to ebb and flow with the currents.
We found ourselves a cozy spot with sunlight in the waiting area, on-call to board our flight. I was falling asleep, having woken up early in the morning after a late-night farewell to the people of Montreal. It was only a week-long trip but it changed a lot of things. So I recall from here, as we settle down in New York for our second stop, some of the things that made this city a special one for me.
Thank you for your hospitality this past week. It was a brief stay with a lasting jolt. I’d like to thank you for many things. Your energy, your community, your novelty, and your idiosyncrasy.
One of the first thing that I noticed about you is your use of the word “gratuity” instead of “tip”. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and I think we should all adopt this term.
I also appreciate your gathering of people in public spaces. Seeing them casually or passionately having a celebration gives me a sense of freedom and brings me joy — even at 2:00 am in the morning.
I appreciate you for challenging definitions. For providing me with a space to ponder what creativity can mean and what a speculative workforce can look like. For a judgment-free zone where I feel encouraged to be radical and to express myself.
Also, thank you for embracing and welcoming everything coming your way. Your openness gives me hope and softens some of my fears.
Most of all, thank you, for the immense love I felt.
“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
As the days wind down, our time here at Butchershop is coming to a close and it has been super insightful. Next week we’ll be off to Montreal and not soon after that NY. The journey has been so surreal and I am constantly snapping back to reality and realizing that I am actually here, doing this, doing what I love.
As a part of the program, as well as the culture here at Butchershop, I was able to pick the brains of folks from the various rolls throughout the company. Learning what everyone does and how it all fits together to make this whole thing run (sometimes smoothly, sometimes not so much) was a great learning experience and left me with invaluable perspective not just on my practice but on life.
The thing I found most interesting about it all is that with everyone’s vastly different paths and walks of life, eventually each person’s path converged and it all lead them here. And while there is a certain level of mastery that everyone possesses in their roles, no one came into Butchershop being a master of their craft. This was especially reaffirming and It showed me the importance of being able to wear many different hats in the world and adapt to what the climate calls for.
While our jobs as designers does rely on having a certain level of mastery over our craft, it is equally as important to understand how to be a jack of all trades, and not just a master of one.
I waved at Marco as he approached me. We frantically found our way to the spot designated for Uber pick-ups and were soon on the way to our crib, as Marco calls it, which we will be staying at for the next few weeks. We shared our excitement for what’s to come and learned about each other’s backgrounds and histories with Marco spontaneously pointing out and recalling the makes and models of the cars passing by… We dropped off our baggage, hit the streets looking for food while mesmerizing over the colorful blocks of buildings, and soon found out ourselves in front of Butchershop thinking we had figured out our commute, not knowing we will one day be waiting on the wrong side of the station for a Muni that was constantly “not in service”.
We were thrown right into it on our first day. Shadowing in meetings, participating in brainstorm sessions, working on projects and sketching out ideas while trying to grasp who exactly the client is and what they do. And at the same time finding out that we are giving a presentation on Brand and Business… It has been a whirlwind, to say the least.
All of this was intentional, of course. We were thoughtfully connected with a different crew member at Butchershop every week, who hosted and guided us through the journey. Which were tremendously helpful in navigating this whirlwind. Numerous coffee/tea walks and many insightful conversations. We took a walk down to the pier one day, talking and looking out to the water when Caroline, one of the design directors, brought up the term “kit of parts” as she describes what Butchershop does. The phrase kind of stuck with me. To see and think of design as this intuitive and flexible object that can be handed off, then assembled and reassembled as needed is a refreshing perspective.
Days here are filled with heads-down time working on projects, meetings, but also regular check-ins and conversations that spark ideas, not to mention all the great personalities we’re surrounded with. There are also many challenges along the way — moments of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty. And these challenges are truly luxurious. They are opportunities for learning and growth — a chance to embody that “kit of parts” ourselves — to be reassembled and reconfigured so that other variations of the true self can be seen.
Introducing the wonderful journey of Marco Cousins @babypanther_ and Qiang Wang @qiangjohnwang. Together they are on Track 2 of World’s Greatest Internship. They’ll journey to Butchershop in San Francisco, Factry in Montreal, Gretel in New York, and Koto in Los Angeles.
We asked them a few questions to understand what makes them tick.
what drives your creative process—why do you do what you do?
Marco: my purpose for creating is to honor a reflex within myself, as well as to put a bit of my creative conscious into the real world.
Qiang: my creative process is driven by two things—a desire to know more and my instincts.
In 5 words or less: what are you looking to learn from WGI?
Marco: to strengthen my execution
Qiang: communicate, collaborate, trust, and improvise.
New York was my first experience of America. It was loud. At times I’ve been overwhelmed by the noise in New York — one night when I returned home from walking around times square, my ears were ringing. In the mornings, even when we couldn’t see NY from our apartment we could hear it. The crowds, sirens, constant honking roadworks, and the sound of the subway rattling by under grates in the sidewalk.
Whilst in New York I had some respite from the buzzing of the city, I went to see A quiet evening of dance — new and newish dance performances by artist and choreographer William Forsythe.
The audience was instructed to keep as quiet as possible. The first piece, titled prologue was performed in near silence accompanied only by twittering birdsong. The piece that followed, named catalogue was performed in complete silence. All that was audible was the dancer’s ragged breath and the sound of their bodies connecting with the floor. A rhythm was created by the dancer’s heavy intake of breath and forced exhale. I was totally absorbed by the performance. I could sense that everyone in the theatre was also transfixed. I found myself becoming very still as I focused intently on the performance.
The movements were balletic. Piece by piece the dancers carried us through an evolution of ballet positions. The dancer known as Rubberlegz, incorporating b-boy movements. He contorts his body so fluidly it doesn’t seem human.
In this choreography, William Forsythe subtracts music to focus our attention onto the movement and rhythm of the body. The strategy team at Character follows a similar approach of subtraction.
Strategy is not about adding more stuff.
Strategy is about taking stuff away.
Taking away everything, until there’s only one thing left. One single powerful thought.
By distilling what you are communicating to a single idea the effect is more potent. Character is able to take away all of the superfluous fluff piece by piece until only the essential idea remains. With this philosophy, the visual identity must track with the strategy and communicate a single idea. Character frequently works with startups, and in this arena, it is essential to have clarity around what is the most important thing to communicate about themselves. I’ve really appreciated learning this fundamental power of simplifying from Character.
By removing musical accompaniment we became sensitive listeners and focused on the pure form. When the music played for the second half of the evening, it was a new appreciation for the movements we’d seen just before. It led the audience to compare what effect music really has on the dance. I felt that the music immediately predictable, we know the tempo structure and this dance felt less free and spontaneous. The dancers were no longer following a secret rhythm, now we could all hear the score.
As I navigate through my early design career, there are many moments when I feel completely exhausted by my immaturity. I feel frustrated at my naiveness and complete lack of eloquence that all the designers I admire possess. They speak with confidence and poise about their craft, which is a tone that never seems to reflect back in my own practice. I find myself completely enchanted by the way some people are able to articulately process their perspective in contrast to my awkward hyperawareness.
While sitting in a client meeting during my second week at Character, I was able to see the manifestation of years of experience in action. The lead designer and creative director led the presentation as the clients threw in several curveball questions after each slide. The creative director and lead designer were able to quickly answer these unexpected inquiries on the spot with precision and persuasion. I realized then and there that this kind of skill set is something that is built with years of experience, observation and participation. There isn’t a crash course or cheatsheet someone can study to build this kind of eloquence and expertise overnight.
Surprisingly, this was the first time I realized that I am still very young in the field of design compared to all the seasoned designers I have been working under. After carefully observing that meeting, I realized that I need to be more forgiving and patient with myself. I now trust that as long as I stay agile and curious, I will continue to develop. As of now, I have accepted that I may not be the most eloquent person in the room, but I can be the most enthusiastic person. I began to start seeing my day to day challenges not based on the characteristics and skills I lack, but based on how I can contribute at the very moment.
Upon reflection, I realize that I have already made huge strides within the last fourth months of WGI. In my earlier blog post written during my first stop in London, I acknowledge my overwhelming anxiety that clouded my ability to trust my intuition as a designer. It heavily hindered me from actively contributing with my team. Eventually that anxiety developed to create doubts in my confidence as a designer. Now fast-forwarding to today, I arrived to San Francisco feeling more energized than ever before. I knew I wanted to finish strong. Hannah and I both fearlessly kickstarted our first day of at Character with our self-initiated introduction presentation. We shared our background, current WGI journey, and our new goals as we join their team.
Now that we are reaching our last internship, I joke with the other WGI interns that we are now “senior executive interns” at this point. For the past 4 months, we have faced the unknown over and over again. From the fairly expected challenges, such as adapting to a new work culture in a new city, (x3) then to dealing with unexpected difficulties, such as of establishing emotional stability while constantly on the move, has all made me resilient overall. Anxiety who? I don’t know her. Finally building my confidence in my imperfect self and easing the tensions of my anxiety and irrational fears of failure was possible through trial and error developments over time. Knowing that I’ll always be evolving throughout my design career, I finally feel at peace with my current state and excited for whatever comes with my next developments.
college. Made my dog proud.
wildest opportunityof them all.
strangerfrom New Zealand.
swans, and lots of
Qiang. I love you guys so much. You guys are
incredible soulsat the
warmthinstead of fashion for the first time in my life.
friendsfor upcoming collaborations.
Maddyand Whitney in the city.
family. My dog is still proud of me.
vulnerableand appreciative designer.
We’ve now past the halfway point in our journey. Our time in London feels so separate from our lives now it seems like a dream, we have to remind ourselves it really happened.
I’ll take so much from this journey — memories, lessons, experiences and books. Books that I will lug around in my already overweight suitcase for the rest of the year. One of these books I know I will treasure is a reprint of Re-Printed Matter by Karel Martens. I bought this at the NY Bookfair, a few weekends back. I spent most of my weekend bearing the heat at the packed Moma PS1. As I shuffled from table to table my eyes gorged on books covering every inch of available space. I took in every cover – I had a major fear of missing out if I didn’t at least flick through each and every title that caught my eye. On the first day, I stayed right up until the building had to be evacuated. It was totally serendipitous that I got to meet Karel Martens – I had no expectation that he would be there. I was just at the right place at the right time, and before the crowds swarmed, I had my copy of Re-Printed Matter stamped and signed.
Karel Martens is a graphic design legend, and at 80 years continues to work on design projects. At his Q&A, Karel said he often calls himself the best-paid student. He was referring to how he asks his students for help with learning new software. I loved the sense of humility in the idea of continuing, at 80 years to be a student of his craft. This resonated with me as I feel a sense of insecurity of needing to move on from this student phase and just hurry up and be a designer already. But here is a design icon, who is also a student. It was a reminder to myself that although I have graduated I can learn to embrace a lifelong role as a student.
Martens celebrates students in his commitment to design teaching and he chose to use Japanese binding in Re-Printed Matter to keep the book affordable for students. We typically admire designers for their body of work, but what really captured my admiration was his humility and generosity towards others.
Karel signed my book with a Good Luck — I have already had the best luck I could have ever hoped for with this internship journey.
On the first day of our new internship, Hannah and I arrived at Prophet on 5th Ave in our business casual wear. Along with the new business casual dress code now part of lives, shifting over to Prophet has called for a drastic change.
With every new job I’ve had, I’ve learned that quickly adapting the firms’ workflow and systems are the best thing I can do to be the best communicator I can be. Being a very large international firm, Prophet has many unique terminologies, workflows, and systems which I am currently learning and constantly readjusting my workflow to. Being newly placed in an in-house design team for big strategy consulting firm requires me to ask a lot of questions to adapt. The old me used to anxiously avoid asking too many questions in fear that I might ask something embarrassing or stupid when adjusting to a new environment. However, the current and constantly evolving me conclude that I no longer don’t have the time and energy to spare to be shy during work anymore.
Being shy never benefitted me. While my internal anxieties and insecurities never really take a break from bullying me, I’ve learned during this journey that it never hurts to say hello to the person next to you. I realize that every good opportunity (including this very special WGI opportunity of a lifetime!) was possible because I spoke up and made a conversation. Simple greetings and questions have led me to incredible friendships, collaborations, and insights that would have never been possible if I decided to let my insecurities get the best of me. While the external world filled with so many strangers (especially in a huge city like New York) can be overwhelming, I like the believe that we are always more similar than different.
I’ve always hated the term “making connections” and “networking” used with career-building. It always sounds so forceful and unauthentic to me. Matter of fact, I actively avoid logging into LinkedIn as much as I can to avoid the cringe chills I get when scrolling through LinkedIn’s “social media.” While I very much love the free charcuterie boards at networking events, I never really feel like authentic self when forced to upsell myself and my work on the spot. Regardless of my discomfort in career networking rituals, I do acknowledge that it is very helpful to get to know people. Luckily I have found that most people enjoy the company of others taking interests. Cold emailing designers I’ve admired for years have led to tremendously helpful critiques for my projects. Asking a colleague out for coffee has lead to helpful advice and future collaborations. Asking for a quick portfolio review has even recently led to a job interview with my dream job. 👀
It never hurts to say hello.
Diving into creative research is like heading towards a fuzzy target — this phrase struck me. It feels reassuring to hear two words that so well epitomise the uncertainty of navigating towards an outcome. So often have I started to explore an idea and felt overwhelmed and lost. At times it feels like the willingness is there, but the direction is unclear.
Element AI describes their creative research as a fuzzy target. We were lucky enough to visit Element AI with Factry in Montreal. When using advanced technologies, Element AI is heading into the unknown with every project. They take an experimental approach to problem-solving by exploring different paths which can sometimes result in failure. When embarking on a creative experiment, you need to allow freedom to experiment and as the project progresses, the path will clear. To follow a fuzzy target feels like the process becomes more important than the end product.
The fuzzy target allows space to consider the impossible. Without a sharply defined outcome, we can consider the space that an idea can grow. At Factry, we followed an ideation process around creating a space to connect people. We were asked to consider our moonshot idea. What idea feels impossible? Letting go of a clear sense of direction is liberating. A rigidity falls away and lines between what is possible become blurred. A fuzzy target means not being afraid to experiment and see potential everywhere. It is a good reminder that we don’t need to be able to envision the outcome from the outset.
At Factry, in an exercise to start a discussion on adaptability, we found ourselves being asked to write a two-minute song in two minutes – and then perform it. Instead of becoming paralysed and frozen we got through it. Adaptability is embracing what you can’t control.
We had an intensive and immersive week visiting creative studios in Montreal, each embracing their own creative research in different fields. It was the perfect stop to reflect on our journey so far and prepare ourselves for the next chapter. Merci Factry!
As a recent design graduate coming from an experimental design program, I found myself overwhelmed with transitioning my design practice from being a student to an incoming professional. While all the amazing people at Koto are more than supportive and always willing to share their expertise, overwhelming anxiety was my first reaction during the first week diving into the very unfamiliar world of branding. Designing for a professional branding studio required different skillsets, thinking process, and prioritization that were all completely new to me.
Outside of the Koto office, Hannah and I faced new challenges trying to find balance in a country that is unfamiliar to both of us. During our first few weeks, we took the wrong public transport several times (What on earth is DLR? Why is it called an Oyster card?), struggled to interpret British accents and terminologies (Here are some of my favorite new words I’ve learned: Hiya! Cheers! FFS! Proper! Wanker! Slapper!), and even endeavored figuring out how to properly order sandwiches at a British deli. (Why are there so many mayo based chicken salads in England?) While the cultural immersion have been absolutely insightful and fascinating, we also found ourselves missing the familiarity and comfort we considered home. While Hannah and I have each other for constant support throughout this entire journey, we found ourselves missing the people we love and the stability we were familiar with in our own countries.
Nevertheless, I experienced that being completely removed from my comfort zone has pushed me to quickly learn and adapt in ways I never expected.
Currently at the Koto office, I have been learning new methods by closely observing other experienced designers and studying more about what makes branding successful both functionally and visually in the real world. I also finally got myself to cool down my design anxieties by allowing myself to intuitively learn and explore rather than pressuring myself to complete and deliver each time. Once shifting this to mentality, it has completely changed the way I approach each day at Koto with excitement and anticipation.
As far as the challenges of adapting to new lifestyle goes, it’s still something I am continuously navigating through. While there is always the rush of excitement of discovering and experiencing something new, it also comes with its own set of challenges as well. The best piece of advice that truly fits with dealing with such drastic changes came from my conversations with last year’s WGI candidate Whitney Badge, “The best thing to do is be open with yourself and acknowledge how you feel.” Although it’s not easy, I remind myself that this is a special kind of growing pain that I very much need during this season of my life.
Just as Hannah and I have finally started to feel that our flat in Angel has become our home and the people at Koto have become our mentors and friends, it is almost time to head to our next destination. Preparing for Montreal feels like moment to take catch our breathe and celebrate our progress so far. I realized that we still have a very long journey ahead of us. We have grown so much in such a short period of time all thanks to embracing discomfort and leaning on spontaneity.
Introducing the wonderful journey of Es Youn @es.youn and Hannah Small @hnnhsmall. Together they are on Track 3 of World’s Greatest Internship. They’ll journey to Koto in Berlin, Factry in Montreal, Prophet in New York, and Character in San Francisco.
We asked them a few questions to understand what makes them tick.
what drives your creative process—why do you do what you do?
Es: process of finding and developing solutions drives my curiosity to create.
Hannah: tinkering and playing throughout the design process fuel my curiosity to challenge boundaries and create visual utopias.
In 5 words or less: what are you looking to learn from WGI?
Es: developing my practice with others
Hannah: looking to sharpen my eye.
We present to you the beautiful account of experiences, insights, interviews, stories, and reflections of World’s Greatest Internship Edition 1.
Written by Madeleine Carrucan and designed by Whitney Badge, they detail their experiences around the world at Butchershop in San Francisco, COLLINS in New York, Made Thought in London, Base in Brussels, Parkside in Graz, and Re in Sydney.
WGI Edition 1 was such a huge success that we thought more people should have such an opportunity.
So WGI Edition 2 will feature more interns, with more stops, at more companies.
But the name of this intern game is still the same. It’s an open invitation for hybrid creatives, lateral thinkers—part designer, writer, strategist, entrepreneur, artist, culture-maker, and contributor.
Interns will dive headfirst into a creative cornucopia, with stops at top companies doing top work. Less photocopies, more collaboration. Same high creative bar, new office views. A few more stamps in the passport, and couple more lost in translations.
A better, well-rounded endeavor that’ll help modern creatives learn new skills, focus their talents, navigate complexities, and leave with a powerful experience that will accelerate their careers.
As always, interns will be compensated, and travel from city to city as well as lodging will be taken care of. And if that ain’t enough to entice you, you should really figure out what will.
There’s a $25 entry fee this year. Submitting an application guarantees it will be carefully considered by real people at several of the world’s best creative companies, as well as automatically adds you to a network of top talent which our partners are often using as a resource to add talent to their teams.
We’ve been impressed since the moment we laid eyes on their work. Poetic, clear, and confident. Curious. They assured us they were ready for this voyage. They were ready to travel to exotic lands and meet interesting people. We learned as much as they did through their travels and experiences.
They learned the difference between wisdom and opinion along the winding path of courage to intuition. Deep down, they already knew what they learned, but experienced moments of validation.
But there were moments of uncertainty too. Crafty and resourceful, they quickly created their own approach to staying focused—confiding in each other and their new friends, peers, and mentors.
Every day they turned awareness into action. They exercised conscious restraint and consideration. How to construct ideas into experiences by themselves and with teams.
They experienced the warm welcoming embrace from each agency upon arrival. As cultural ambassadors, Maddy and Whitney would share their tales from place to place. They experienced heartbreak every time they had to say goodbye to their new friends, community, and home. Only to be filled with the exhilarating anticipation of a new arrival a few hours later.
Maddy and Whitney weren’t meant to follow anyone else’s path. No one is—unless they’re lost. They turned a million mini-actions into an epic journey. We are proud of them. Our partners are proud of them. And we are honored to have had them as the two courageous women who pioneered the path for the World’s Greatest Internship.
Maddy and Whitney, it is because of you that other people will have the opportunity to participate in future editions of WGI. And to our partners at AUFI, Base, COLLINS, Made Thought, Parkside, and Re, it is because of your generosity to people and commitment to culture that WGI was successful. This would not have been possible without you.
Your WGI team
We drive out south. Flowers on the dashboard. The sky splashed with stars. Day heaving into night. You park your car under the trees. “The ocean is a powerful thing”, you say, and we all turn to look. The shadows and the streetlights are swimming across the street, and out there, in the dark, the sea is smouldering in. Judy brought us here. “It’s a beautiful night”, she says “and sometimes you have to just go”.
How big. How blue. Sydney. All sand on your clothes, salt on your lips, sunburn on the back of your neck. The midday sun at fever pitch. Boys at the beach after school, speed-dialling their brave faces, as the surf starts to tease them. Cicadas clicking their wings. Fruit bats flying like the gulls. The wind–howling and wild–picking up. Lightning snaring the clouds. The storms howling in. So under the weather! In the Uber like it’s a getaway car–we take shelter inside, light the wicks and talk up late. The town casts its spell on us, as they all did.
How different are all these cities anyway? They all bleed together. I can only remember them in flashes. Baseball caps. Dahlias. How I was a kid from so far away, and you leant across the table and raised your glass to it. You: how fast, and sweet, and loud you all talk. California: how that word feels red and cursive–sometimes I say it just so I can sing it. Downtown! Snow! Thanksgiving! Walking to work wrapped in the scarf that you lent me. How it felt like all the traffic in New York had stopped–because under that orange ceiling, you shook my hand and believed in me.
You. You. And You. How we plunged up the escalators towards London and then back down to the underground. Together at Christmas and the New Year. Having lunch every day in Brussels with you all–and at once, feeling at home so far away from it. January! February! Walking around your small town with a box of Krapfens. “It’s no New York” you said, but that didn’t matter, because being with you was big enough.
And then there’s us. Side by side. How alive. How un-alone. We wore our shoes until they broke running for trains we almost missed. Blue sky unblinking in our heads. Blood still young, and running on what?
All the words I want to say stick to my throat at the airport. Goodbyes are a kind of motion sickness. Sharp. Heavy. Deep blue. Tears spilling out past the lash lines. We hold onto each other, and stay there, in each other’s arms, before we let go. You must leave to catch your flight. I watch you go, and you turn back to look at me. Together we walk away.
When all is said and done, what do I know now that I did not know before? Magic is certain. Magic is everywhere. It lights up every dark room. It holds up this tiny blue world, and pulls us all close. Even when you think something, somehow, has spooked it and sent it bolting away. It will come to you. It is saving another last dance for you. Hold your breath and you can hear it. It is moving towards you. It is about to arrive. Hold on.
I am back home now. Thundering down the road. My old city watching over me. This wide world: waiting, roaring, calling. My heart–my home–booming, blasting, beating outside my chest. I tuck my hair behind my ears and cross the street. And so it was. And so it is. And so I go.
1. What was the last song you listened to?
2. What do you love about working at Parkside?
3. What’s one secret hobby nobody would guess about you?
4.What’s your favourite thing about Graz that you can’t experience anywhere else?
5. What’s one thing on your bucket list?
6. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Watches the Whitney Houston documentary on Netflix once:
When the last Thursday of every month swings around, Parkside blows up some balloons and lights some candles to celebrate all the birthdays that happened that month. They call it ‘Birthday Thursday’. We think it takes the cake!
Photos by Nina Thonegg (Thanks, Nina!)
We travel through the violet night. Rolling past the intermission. Bolting to the 3rd act, with our clothing folded, and our lives packed neatly in suitcases. Here comes the safety demonstration. The oxygen masks. The sick bags. Your nearest exit. The belts to buckle low across your body. And the children wail. And the cabin lights dim. And the air conditioning kicks up the dry air and makes it spin. And the jet fuel simmers till it boils over. The take off. The turbulence. The touch down. The taxi.
Calm. Clear-skied. Landlocked. Veined with whitewater. On the ground again. There’s no wind here. Thin, black ice on the lake. Snow on the mountains far away. Red roofs above the houses. Bells ringing in the churches. Vapour trails, flying up all alone, or criss-crossing each other. And the nights arrive in sapphire–deep navy and purple–like someone’s crushed a blueberry between their fingers. The days rising in pale, glassy blues.
If a writer is to the world, what a florist is to roses, and peonies, and bluebells, then so be it. Cut what you see at the stem. Arrange it all like wildflowers.
The rush. The racket. The runaway. Oh! How the smallest details can feel giant. Music playing out of your laptop speakers. Full moon out the window. Painting our nails the same colour in the living room. Liquid soap–fluorescent orange–in the kitchen sink. Peaches from the can–sticky and gleaming–in a bowl. Each day is a lifetime if you look close. A tiny, new-born world.
We have lived together so long that we laugh and cry at the same things. Sharing music, and groceries, and bottles of shampoo. Adopting each others colloquialisms. We’ll stop in the street to point out the same things (a sunset, a building, a poster, a stretch limo airbrushed a shade of beige I can only describe as putrid, a… well, you get the picture). Moving at the same pace. Talking in shorthand, in glances, in gestures. Sitting across from each other in restaurants and around dining tables for over 100 nights.
Breathing in the same cabin pressure. Trying on these cities like dresses. Finding the seams. Taking them in. Hemming them up. Tugging at the sleeves. Turning around and around and around. I know. I know. I’ve heard the talk, the car-crashes, and the electrical storms. I’ve seen the headlines, the hangovers and the honeymoons. Trouble could be looming like a tidal wave, but so could anything? Who knows what’s going to happen? The world waits for us. We’ll set out towards it together.
It’s 2019. I’m in Brussels, sitting in what would be their conference table during the week and what is the table from which I project sappy movies on the weekend. Living, working, making all in the same space. I gave as much as I possibly could and barely took five breaths before the month was over. To think that this one month was merely a breath in the great span of existence, of my whole life, of this program, and somehow we move on.
Every month I transform into a completely new person, inheriting a new company ethos and learning a new design process over and over again. This was the first month that I really truly believed I had it in me. I feel like as young designers we get really good at faking confidence. This was the first time where I was confident, excited and proud of what I made–whether or not it lives to see the light of day is not up to me. I still gave everything I had, not only for the project but for myself, because I was excited about the work and eager for the outcome.
This whole month was filled with experiences that shaped my view of Base. Every conversation transformed my perspective time and time again. The kind where you can feel yourself growing while it’s happening. If anything, I think it embodies what made Base such a special place to be. Our conversation whirled from topic to topic, but something that really struck me was the reality that everything is relative. Everything is changing, but what matters most is to be present with yourself and with others.
I wrote some notes after I left the restaurant, and one of them reads: “everything ends. Everything ends eventually. Most things we make become destroyed in the end. But we do make beautiful things. We have music, and art, and design, and somehow that makes it all worthwhile. I care more about this moment right now, with these people, than the idea that everything will end.” We are so uncomfortable with change. The slightest shift will send us into shock, but there’s nothing we can do to change it. Everything is changing all the time.
This conversation was one of many, but it showed how thoughtful, honest, and real people are at Base. It shows how being open and present with one another changes the entire atmosphere. Every time we throw ourselves into new opportunities, there’s always the possibility of fault or failure. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been torn in half and sewn back together, growing a thicker layer of skin every time, and softening my heart with the understanding that life will have its way, whether or not I try to fight it. We blink and everything has changed, but that’s not meant to scare us. It’s meant to ground us in the present moment, and fill our hearts with hope for everything that’s to come.
Learn about how I used my time at wgi.whitneybadge.com
Oh, Base. You wonderful wonderful people. Thank you for such a creative month. Before we go, we were just wondering…
1. What was the last song you listened to?
2. How did you find yourself working at Base?
3. What’s your favourite thing about living/working at Brussels?
4.What’s your favorite piece of art? It can be anything–perhaps it’s here at the office, at a museum, or something you saw online.
5. What’s a secret hobby or past time no one would guess about you?
6. What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Without further or do here’s what January sounded like. Just hit play and you can hear the bops and beats we were bumping on the streets of Brussels. We promise it’ll sound better than the corny alliteration in that last sentence.
Bring in the string section. Turn on the lights. It’s my 22nd birthday. Paris is batting its lashes. Looking me up and down. Rolling its eyes like “do I know you?” And the song at the bar is like “welcome to your life/there’s no turning back”. And my beautiful friends tease me like “are you going to cry?” And I’m walking across the bridge towards The Louvre, thinking “holy shit, I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive”. My heart inflating like a perfect red helium balloon. Floating up past the satellites.
I am growing old. I am growing new. Singing, and spinning, and spilling my guts. The sun, and the cities, and the sea, and the sky, and the stars. They’re flickering and sparking and freckling at me. I’ve shed my skin so many times I lose count. Pulling out the stitches. Running white-hot. I feel it all. Head against the window of the car. Driving across the United States of Everywhere. I put my hand on my chest. I pledge allegiance to it.
You know me. I’m a sucker for it. The romance of it all. You tell me stories, because you know I like them–even when I’ve heard them before. Tell me about your hometown again. Tell me about high school again. Tell me about all the jerks, and the lovers, and your friends. Tell me about that time where you had too much and couldn’t keep your balance riding your bike home. Tell me where you were, where you are now, where you’re going. Tell me about that dream you keep having. Tell me again.
Driving across the United States of Everywhere. Straight ahead on that highway stretching through everything. Turn left. Turn right. Dry your eyes. Put your foot down. Tilt your head. Turn on the radio. Are we there yet?
Well, would I know it if we saw it? Will we ever get there? If we weren’t there now, then when would we be? I’ve spent my whole life waiting for it. In the backseat–looking out the window–waiting. I find the old words I wrote at my mother’s piano this time last year: “I love the future/and the day that I’ll see it/get dressed every morning/just hoping I’ll meet it”.
Bring in the string section. Turn on the lights. Are we there yet? My stomach drops. How could I have been so blind? In plain sight! There it is. Straight ahead on this highway stretching through everything. Ohh. Don’t stop the car. Keep your foot on the accelerator. We’re there. Right there. We’ve always been there.
Walking around a city alone is the same thing as going to the movies. The dark of the cinema, and the dark of this town, is the same dark. I know this only because I am up early enough every morning to see it. Drifting through the house, I tug a jacket around my shoulders and open the door. Pull my own hand down the stairs and out onto the street.
Like a smoke detector looking for a fire, I go walking. Past the houses, and the parks, and the supermarkets. Self-possessed, and loitering. Moving quick like a shadow or a figure ice skater. Turning every sharp corner. Not a girl, but a great white shark. Humming and reeling. Hurling up the hill with the gait of a New Yorker. One step, and then another, and then another.
I’m in Brussels now. The yellow streetlight singes the deep blue. Gauze hanging like a fog over the windows. If I’m lucky, when I look up, I can see it happening. The sky is shy for hours and hours, and then, for a flash, out with it. Sunrises like scarlet-faced confessions. Telling us how it really feels. An emotional light-show.
The streets, perfumed with cigarette smoke. Crows sit on the shoulders of statues, and the statues of angels sit on the tops of the buildings, watching over us. The people are talking, and I overhear them, but I don’t understand a word. I go in for handshakes, and get pulled into cheek-to-cheek air kisses. “The French way”, he says. Well, okay.
After work I call you up and talk to you. How nice it is to hear your voice. “What are you going to write about…” you say, “cobblestones?”. I laugh. Yeah. Something like that. Back in the Southern Hemisphere, where I’m from, it’s Summer. “It’s so hot over here”, you say. It’s true. It is. The dog is asleep on the linoleum in front of the air conditioner.
The washing machine in London turned half of my clothes blue. I rotate through what remains of my wardrobe like a cartoon character. I remember telling you this, and how you said, “…Maddy”, and how the laughter swung between us. You’re right, I should have separated the colours. It’s a catastrophe, but a beautiful one. A happy accident in the long list of happy accidents.
Happy accidents, like how I try to make breakfast and come back to a toaster whirring like a smoke machine at a high school disco. Happy accidents like the bruises that appear when I’m convinced I’m much better at dancing than I actually am. Happy accidents like falling asleep halfway through the TV show, and now all I can remember are waves crashing and Attenborough saying “blue whales have hearts as big as cars”.
Happy accidents like us. Like how I am here, and no matter how far apart we are, you are here too. These words put us in the same room. We’re together, if only for a second. You and me.
Every week, Base invites two people from the team to join forces and cook lunch for everyone in the office. We were up for the challenge and set out to create the World’s Greatest Tikka Masala for 25+ people! We started the night before by collecting the ingredients we needed and prepping everything for the next day. In the morning, we began cooking the sauce, making heaps of rice, and running to fetch some naan bread from a local vendor. It was a feat, but we were successful in the end!
Want to try the recipe for yourself? Here’s the one we used. Challenge: Multiply the measurements by 6 and invite 25 of your closest friends!
There’s so much to tell you, but this time around I’ll show you. This is a home movie of the past 3 months. I never thought a story like this would ever be mine to tell, but here it is. Thank you for trusting me. I’ll see you in this new year.
Made Thought, what can we say, we like the way you think. We like how you think so much we asked you all some questions. Here are your answers below.
01. What’s the last song you listened to?
02. What do you find most fulfilling about working at Made Thought?
The people, the enthusiasm, the ambition. The people. The people. The people. The people around me. Being surrounded by such talented people. Diversity of projects. Access to some of the most inspiring clients and their minds – from Sian Sutherland (A Plastic Planet) to Tom Dixon to Evan Sharp (Pinterest). We have unbridled access to the way they think, they feel and what makes them tick. That’s a genuine privilege. The atmosphere and the team. High quality design. The incredible projects are great, but in all honesty and as cliché as it might sound, the people are by far the best thing. We’re a bit of a family at MT. The variety– there’s never a dull day. The variety of clients, work and opportunities across a variety of sectors and disciplines. Apart from that curry on the market… knowing any amazing project could come through the door. The football team. Not really, but that’s a close second. Definitely the people. Quality of projects. The people. I enjoy working here! We work hard and have fun. All round nice place to work. Lovely people. Nice vibes. Ben and Paul are lovely to work for! The people. Talented people. The people are really great + we work with so many amazing clients. It’s lovely to be inspired by so many creative minds. The people. The creative. M.T. F. C. The freedom I get given on all projects. The type of work, crafting, thinking. Pushing already progressive clients outside their field of thinking to get to something new and different. Being surrounded by so many great people.
03. What’s your New Year’s resolution?
04. What’s your favorite place in London?
05. What’s one secret pastime or hobby no one would guess about you?
Juggling. Breeding hamsters. Writing a romance novel. Played drums in a glam rock punk band when 19 years old. Boxing. I play in a netball team in Croydon League. Collecting souvenir pennies. Knowing everything about the 2nd world war! And dancing in my kitchen! I love collecting music/records and fragrance. Cooking tuna pasta with melted cheese over and over until perfected. I create leather handbags. Guitarist. Playstation. Screenprinting. Playin’ the harmonica. Playing with my snake! Not so secret but from a previous life… golf. Cooking. Candle-making to custom fragrance. Eating. I get emotional about food. I also DJ outside of work under the Edele Andaya. I have been DJing since I was 16 and now play out across venues in London. Hoarding–very bad at throwing stuff away. Visiting SPAN estates (Eric Lyons). Whenever I’m in a new city I try and visit a cemetery to escape the hustle and bustle. Always peaceful and full of incredible sculptures. I used to be a big stamp collector as a child – mainly Australian to be specific! I do gymnastics and am learning to hold a handstand unaided for 20 seconds! My skateboard is my best friend.
06.What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
It’s not the end of the world. Just be nice. Ego is just an overdressed insecurity. Always be honest. Everything, every moment is what you make of it. Treat people how you’d like to be treated. Content-aware fill. CTRL + Z. Try until you manage. ‘Never drink by yourself’– my father. Don’t take life too seriously. Nobody wants to work with a wanker. Everytime something in your life feels wrong, ask yourself: does this deserve any of my time? If not, just let it go immediately. “Britney made it through 2007. You can make it through today”. The grass is always greener. Always stay true to yourself. Put on your lifejacket before helping others… i.e if you are capable and safe you can be greater help. Be nice to everyone. There’s more to life than work. Travel. Travel. Nothing better… Stop worrying. Don’t miss out on life or sleep. You have 2 ears, one mouth. Your communication should be in that proportion–listen more and speak less! Look left. Look right. Look left again. ‘There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable than the present moment. And yet is eludes us completely. All the sadness of life lies in this fact’ — Milan Kundera.
London! The last time I was here, I was on an orientation for what I thought would be my first job out of school. I stayed an extra long weekend after our scheduled events ended and soaked up the city I’ve loved from afar, and now I’m here again for an extended time. I love the experience this program brings–the opportunity to take your time and let everything sink in. When people go on vacation, they want to pack in as much as possible in a short amount of time, but I know that you can learn just as much by stepping back and watching the people around you.
Our first day at Made Thought, we were practicing our morning commute. When we entered the station, a flood of people poured in behind us and rushed towards the stairs. I noticed the silence. Nobody said a word the entire three-minute exchange from platform to platform! All you could hear was the footsteps of a hundred people all moving in the same direction, complying with one another to ensure a seamless morning.
That Friday, we were invited to a pub across the road to celebrate the weekend. At midnight, I checked my clock and asked, “how in the hell did we just spend the last 6 hours outside that pub?” Who knows! The time flew. Rounds of pints, shattered glass, and rowdy banter seemed to melt the time away. We realized what a fun and sociable group of people were surrounded with, and wondered how this sidewalk of boisterous strangers could have started their weeks in total silence.
There are pros and cons to being a tourist. We become immersed in a place, but still hold ourselves at a distance to observe from afar. I found myself asking a lot of questions I maybe wouldn’t consider if I wasn’t here for such a short time. I have written down in my notes, “elevation in design is restraint,” but I wonder how that statement applies to culture. The dichotomy between precision and inhibition is so evident in London. I wonder what would happen if someone shattered the glass and invited everyone to join in too.
Learn about how I used my time at wgi.whitneybadge.com
All we want for Christmas is to not hear Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ for another 365 days. On that note, here’s 30 songs to cleanse your palette of Christmas music for the New Year.
Happy Holidays from the World’s Greatest Interns! Who knew that two strangers would be plucked from a heap of applications and thrown together for half a year. Fate had its way, and now we’re spending Christmas, the New Year, and both of our birthdays together. Cheers to that!
Here’s our wildly festive Christmas tree (which we bought for €2 from the side of the road) and are touting very proudly.
This book is a record of this discussion we had internally, but is also a guidebook of best practice for workshops at Made Thought in the future.
Creating desire, creating work that people fall in love with, starts here. With one thought, and another thought, and then another one. With deep thought. We must embrace thinking deeply—not only of graphic design and visual culture—but of anything that can influence and inform our practice.
Thoughts lead to more thoughts. Ideas lead to more ideas. But the only thing that can bridge the gap between a thought and an idea is a conversation. Truth is we think better when we’re exposed to different points of views and perspectives, when our thinking is challenged, and the best way to do this is by simply talking with one another. Deep thought doesn’t just start with how we think, it starts with how we talk. How we think out loud together.
On the 7th of December 2018, Made Thought held their first ever TO THINK Workshop: ‘On Impact and Creative Opportunity. Seeking to explore and understand how they can together create a thinking culture in which we evolve with the world, it brought together a small group of the team at Made Thought together to talk over lunch.
Words by Madeleine Carrucan
Design by Whitney Badge
London calls. London roars. London drives on the left hand side. London blinks like the Christmas lights. London swings like the earrings that hang from the ears of the girls and the boys. London—phosphorescent—like the moss between the bricks. London shuffling and stomping like commuters on The Tube. London winding and bending like the river, like the road. London trudging through the rain and the mud.
December, here, is heavy with a Vitamin D deficiency. The sky turns grey and weeps. The sun drops its eyelids at 4.30pm. The night cuts everything loose. Glasses breaking on the street. Everyone talking and laughing like they’re trying to make the ceiling jump. I imagine all the light bulbs blowing from the cacophony. And I imagine the stars that are out–up there somewhere, over the cloud cover and the light pollution. We walk through the dead of winter home. The streetlights craning their necks and kissing the top of our heads goodnight.
We’re almost halfway through this journey now. Whitney moved out of her apartment—packed up everything and put it in cardboard boxes—in the name of it. How far we’ve both come, and even further to go. Hurtling across the Atlantic and crash-landing in another city. This small world—my sweet dark glittering world—grows bigger and bigger. It wraps me up, pulls me over, swerves off the road and scares the living daylight out, sends me out to sea and dares me to swim back to it.
I must look life dead in the eye. I try to get good at it. Holding on, and letting go. On my last day in the States, I abandon my Superstars–wrap them in my old teenage clothes–and hand them to the man at Goodwill. I push the door open to leave, and make it up 2 blocks before the gravity pulls at me. Howling and hot blue. I want to run home. But where is home anymore? Headphones in, head spinning—one tear rolling—on 5th Avenue. Oh America, we must part sweetly. You maxed me out, made a dizzy hero out of me, sent me flying across the Pacific Ocean. Come over and sit beside me. Let me look at you one last time.
The woman in New York told me my aura was red. “Red in the past, red in the future”, she said. I remember her fingernail tracing the photograph she took, up to the magenta above my head, “romantic thoughts”, before landing on the orange around my heart, “there’s a brightness you’re trying to push”. I was a girl stuck in traffic in the backseat of a taxi in Manhattan, and now I am a girl up above the streets, sitting in the second story of a double decker.
I must look life dead in the eye. I am a nobody. I am a somebody. I could be anybody.
01. What’s the last song you listened to?
02. How did you find yourself working here?
Through a book. Graduated and applied! Through freelancing. Recommended by COLLINS CPA. An old coworker started working at COLLINS and got me the job. I pretty much stepped on the same garden rake twice. I have a scar on my forehead to prove it. We tried to make it work for years, but the timing was never right. Finally! Temp to perm, baby (once I had a taste and I just couldn’t quit). I was aggressively poached from my previous job. Someone I used to work with introduced me to COLLINS. A friend of mine told me I had to work for Brian. I met him and I’ve been here for 5+ years. Well… I am still finding myself, but COLLINS is helping me answer internal wonders about myself and challenges me to look deeper. Had a friend that worked here then interviewed for 10,000 years as there was no role at the time. Followed my two favourite strategists who promised me that we would really change businesses through design—they were right. I ran into a friend after returning from a trip, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, so she suggested COLLINS.
03. What’s your favorite book in the COLLINS library?
04. What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had in New York so far?
Top secret. I can’t remember. Probably seeing Jonah Hill shop at Opening Ceremony. Falling into Carrie Bradshaw’s lap on the subway. When I finally got my first apartment, and when Katy Perry waved at me. Going to a disco loft party. Also, a mouse infested apartment during my early days in NYC. Being desperately poor. My first year in NY— 7 bedroom shitty apartment on Canal St with no windows. Had no money but the best time. The election ‘celebration’ party I threw at Harlem Tavern in 2016. It didn’t turn out the way I expected… My first time at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe—the experience represented everything NYC is about. Too many reasons to live in NYC but maybe my favorite repertoire are walking around ABC Carpet and Home (888 Broadway), and drinks at the Algonquin Hotel. Walking from the top of Manhattan to the bottom in one day, stopping for drinks along the way. Huh… I guess coming back to NYC from travels is always so nice, as you are reminded of all the wonder at once. Getting my masters. Meeting my wife and adopting my dog Charlie. Getting married at City Hall surrounded by family and fifty of the New York love birds.
Going into labor on the day of the NYC Transit Strike.
05. What’s one secret pastime or hobby no one would guess about you?
06.What’s the best advice you’ve been given?Just do it. Just don’t fuck it up. I don’t listen to this, but the simple “stop giving a fuck about what people think of you” is always a good one. It needs to be more fucked up. Act first. Apologise later. One thing at a time. Not everything at once. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Once you show the work (internally or externally), it doesn’t belong to you anymore (its advice about being open to feedback and being collaborative and open to change—brilliant). Don’t get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. Amir—why don’t you wear more black t-shirts? If someone tries to prove to you they are crazy—believe them. Be the leader you wish you had. There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it all means. It’s better to run towards something than run away from something. And avoid hypotheticals: “there are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality”. Whatever… I take my own advice. Still waiting on it.
Thank you for an incredible experience, each and every one of you!
November. We started at Collins and wasted no time diving in. To be honest, this experience is what I’ve been craving for months, maybe even years. We (by we, I mean Maddy and I, the other WGI intern) always say, “give us an occasion, and we will rise to it.” I saw this month as an opportunity to learn as much as possible, and give as much as I possibly could in return. I loved every second. The endless iterations, the harsh critique, the piles upon piles of references. Through it all, I came out a lot tougher and sharper than before.
I got coffee with Brian one morning, and the conversation quickly became the theme of the entire month. “You need to be tough,” he said, “when anybody pushes you, what do you have to do?” I hesitated and then said, “you have to push back,” giving him a shove as we walked down the sidewalk. If anything, that’s exactly what Brian Collins wants from his designers. A strong point of view, the willingness to fight, the determination to stand up for the work.
I’m sure many people can relate to having worked in environments where they felt they didn’t have a voice. For the first time, I felt liberated from the fact that having a strong point of view doesn’t mean you’re subordinate. It means you have the gumption to stand up for yourself and the work. I mean, if we can’t even do that, what’s the role of the designer anyway? We have the incredible responsibility of creating work that influences behavior and shapes perception. With this in consideration, we have to acknowledge that nothing is sacred until the solution is absolutely spot on. Not our egos, our art boards, our shiny mockups–not even Brian Collins himself.
The next day, Brian pulled Maddy and I into the library and told us to sit down. It’s one of those conversations where you wish you could have recorded the whole thing, but in it’s distilled version, this is what he told us: “Talent is not enough if you don’t know how to ask for what you want. The world will demand things of you all the time that you won’t want to give them. You need to fight. You need to demand what you want from the world”. The elevator rang and Brian stood to grab his bag and scarf. Before he left the room, he turned to us and said “and you need to do the same, and do it now.”
So here’s to a future of absolutely zero compromises, of standing up for yourself, advocating for others, and fighting like hell for the work you believe in.
Learn about how I used my time at wgi.whitneybadge.com
There you have it!
30 songs for the 30 days we spent in the city that never sleeps.
I shut my eyes and open them again. 6 AM. Awake—squinting at the lightning that has struck our lives. Nothing will be the same again. I should be used to it by now, but how could anyone get used to this. On my phone I write: “if Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, then thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
To the sun rising. To our lives capsizing. To all the change that’s still coming. Thank you. To everyone back home. To all of our new friends, who have been willing to believe in us; to invite us into their cities and their lives. Thank you. To this dream that’s gone real. To New York. To San Francisco. To all of this ever happening. Thank you.
A personal project by Whitney Badge over the course of World’s Greatest Internship.
As a way to synthesize my experience, I collected data from my daily experiences and explored ways to display it in real time.
In addition to this daily log, I wrote a reflection at the end of each month as a summary of my experiences. Finally, I photographed everything I packed in my suitcase and generated a screensaver that “unpacks” onto the screen if the mouse remains inactive.
Every morning we step into the elevator, hit the button for the 11th floor, and go up. Hockney on the table. New York out the window. Cohen written on the wall: “ring the bells that still can ring / forget your perfect offering / there’s a crack in everything / that’s how the light gets in”.
The city is decidedly grey, but COLLINS is decidedly not. There’s color everywhere. A big yellow dining table. An orange ceiling. A giant blue crayon propped up against a window. A library with thousands of books and objects stacked to the ceiling: jet-planes, snow-globes, and telescopes in between titles like ‘How To Be An Explorer In The World’ and ‘Everything That Can Happen In A Day’. Not to mention the puppets in the hallway, like spectators, watching everyone going back and forth. Walking around here is like playing one big game of I-Spy. How they got everything up 11 floors, up above New York City, is beyond me.
Every evening I step into the elevator, hit the button for the ground floor, and go back down. In my head everything is punctuated with an exclamation mark. Downtown! Uptown! The words I overhear. The buildings I walk past. The new faces I meet. “Young and free!” she says. We’re smiling with our eyes rolled and our noses screwed up at the thought, before we sing in unison: “young and free!” If New York belongs to anyone, it belongs to them. All the kids brave enough to move here and try to make it. All the people I meet who were once those kids. We hold onto the railing on the subway and try to keep our balance. New York, are you there? Can you see us? Are you with us? I stare down the tunnel at the end of the train platform half expecting a voice to echo back. Maybe New York is listening. Maybe it’s not. Maybe all we have is each other.
“Maddy,” she says, “look!” I’m at my desk when I see the tiny white dots spiralling towards to the city. Ohh! Snow! It’s snowing! I am all naive enthusiasm— standing up close to the windows, like a kid in an aquarium. The streets are covered in an icy sludge. The roofs of the buildings are all white, like they’ve been dusted in icing sugar. Even the black garbage bags on the sidewalk are strangely beautiful—like unfinished snowmen.
How punctual magic is. Just when you forget about it, or doubt it—there it is—prevailing. Right on time.
After work, I take the long way home. Snow, falling. My shoes, swivelling on the ice. Life, bursting everywhere. I can’t stop smiling. New York, are you there? You must be. I know you’re tough as guts and all slick talking, but there’s a heart beating under there. There must be. I can see it.
It’s Autumn now. The trees are on fire. The sirens are wailing at all hours. The cranes hoist metal and glass into the sky. And the birds are singing, and my heart is beating, but I can’t hear either of them over everything. Too loud. Too bright. Too much.
New York is a Venus fly trap. It will eat us alive if we let it. I am sure if I stop in the street for too long it’ll catch up with me. The concrete is quicksand. If I flinch, if I jump, if I hesitate—it’ll wrap itself around my ankles and send me flying underground. Maybe that’s why everyone is walking so fast.
I guess New York is the movie everyone says it is. Everyone auditioning for their place. Dressed to the nines. Waiting like understudies for the lead to drop out. I watch them run to catch the subway. Watch them point a middle finger at the taxi that nearly hits them. Watch them raise their voice with whoever they’re in love with. Watch the man in the lobby yell “f*** you” to the elevator leaving without him. Everyone performing till the curtain drops. Till the credits roll. Till this city says ‘cut’ (if it ever does).
Starstruck and sleepless. The streets are never empty. I come home and turn all the lamps on. Tend to the flowers I bought in the kitchen. Put on the music I’d listen to in the suburbs and sing under my breath. Look out the window and count the shadows in the apartments across staring back. Everyone is on their own but never alone.
The blisters I have from walking up and down San Francisco are starting to fade, but I still remember it all. How the sky went pink that morning—like it knew I was leaving. How the night cut everything loose: all tears around the dining table. “Happy to be alive”, he says. I nod. I am. “Hold on to it”, she says, “don’t ever lose it”. I won’t. I won’t. I won’t. I promise.
All this change makes me seasick but I surrender to it. If my voice shakes, let it shake. If my heart breaks, let it break. If I change, then I change. No time to think before the jump. I live with a firework in my chest. On my own, but never alone.
Alright, we’ll say it. Butchershop, we love you. We love the creativity you send out into the world. We love how you’re all so good at what you do it’s scary. We love today, our last day here, and have loved everyday we’ve spent learning, and dreaming, and working alongside you. We love you so much we asked you some questions. What follows are your collective answers.
1. What was the last song you listened to?
2. What do you love about working at Butchershop?
Something new everyday. People. The people. The people. The people. The people. Real, honest people. Fucking everything. Especially the people. The people are just the best. Everyone is frighteningly good at what they do and then fun enough to stay for after work. The crew! The people, mostly. I appreciate that it’s not a “regular” 9-5 job where you have to wear a tie. The loads of creativity. The people and the diversity of projects. Working with a talented crew that care. Everyone is super fun to be around and works hard. Snacks, dogs and people with a strong drive to create good fucking work. Nina Mueller. Being somewhat creative. The people. The fact that everybody is good at their job. The creative freedom. The environment. It’s so chill and relaxing it makes it easy to come in everyday. The super smart people. The community and atmosphere. The people you work with are so important, but second would be the reinforcement and encouragement to push myself further. Everyone genuinely cares about the work and each other. The people. The work. The dogs. Oh, and the dogs. Growing with a company instead of simply at a company. Having the power to change things. The people.
3. If you won the lottery tomorrow, how would you spend the next year or ten?
5. What’s one secret pastime or hobby that nobody would guess about you?
6. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
No one owes you shit. Life is long and has many chapters. Relax. Be humble and work hard always. Don’t be a jerk. If you have nothing nice to say, you should keep your mouth shut. It’s okay, no one will die. Maintain urgency. Seek and destroy. Be yourself, everyone else is taken. If you want to be in the top 1%— you have to be willing to do what 99% aren’t. Go crazy before settling down. If you’re not cheating you’re not trying hard enough. You are who you are currently, but it’s not permanent, that’s growing. If you keep telling someone they’re doing a great job, you’re not helping them. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Be yourself and keep the balance. Where the curve of their desperation meets the curve of your availability, that’s where things happen for you. If you’re set out to do something, do it right… the first time. Don’t stress over things that are out of your control. Everything you do can be tracked on a scale, happiness to suffering, so ask yourself a simple question: does this bring me closer to happiness or suffering? Flow through focus. Carry yourself well. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is the person says ‘no’. Trust your struggle. Stay in the moment. Slow down to speed up. Change what you can touch.
October came and went in a flash, but what a great way to begin. These types of opportunities just don’t exist within the creative industry and it takes a really special group of people to have a wild idea and actually see it through. Between travel and work, the month was filled with many opportunities to set an intention. I started to realize that this is more than just my personal growth, but an opportunity to learn something new from every place I go.
During this first month, the greatest takeaway was how important leadership is. I thought a lot about the leaders in my life and the kind of one I want to be in the future. At Butchershop, there’s a lot of great leaders. In fact, the office is filled with the kinds of people you look forward to seeing every day. I realized that environments like this don’t just exist. They’re set with an intention, a vision about what a workplace should be like and approaching every action with that in mind.
This poster captures one of the greatest lessons I learned from Butchershop’s leaders. It’s a reminder to let go, take risks, fail often and surrender yourself to the process.
Learn about how I used my time at wgi.whitneybadge.com
Selected photos from our road trip to the Big Basin from San Francisco. Taken on a Fujifilm disposable camera on the 21st October, 2018.
Hey there! We’ve decided to release a playlist of what we’ve been listening to each month. Here’s October! Thirty-one songs for thirty-one days, filled with all the breezy bops your heart desires.
Wrap Up is an annual event that sells wrapping paper during the holidays to raise money for Hands On London, a charity working to provide clothing for people in need. For eight years in a row, they collect clothing and give them to charities that support the homeless, refugees, children living in poverty, and people fleeing domestic violence.
Ask Us For Ideas has collaborated with Wrap Up by inviting 12 studios to contribute a wrapping paper design. When one studio fell through, they invited the World’s Greatest Interns to step in.
Our submission explores the limits of generosity in gift-giving and receiving. That is: we often only wrap up presents and give them to our immediate circle of friends and family, instead of people who may need our generosity more.
What if the very thing we package gifts in—wrapping paper—encouraged people to give more generously and consciously? What if, by subverting the element of surprise before opening a present, we could all reexamine the act of giving?
Another sweataer you’ll never wear.
Another candle you’ll never burn.
Another pair of socks you’ll lose.
Another ornament you’ll never hang.
Another book you’ll never finish reading.
Another gift to regift.
We printed out our final statement, ripped the paper into smaller pieces, scanned them individually, and rearranged the pieces into a collage.
Completed for Wrap Up London, a charity event organized by Ask Us For Ideas. The final wrapping paper was screenprinted by Harvey Lloyd Screens using G.F. Smith paper. Words by Madeleine Carrucan and design by Whitney Badge.
Another day in the United States of America. The familiar is just as shocking as all the new. Ohh! How surprising that the sky is blue here! Blue! And the apples are red. And the moon! There she is… up there, looking down at me. Sometimes even the sight of my reflection in a skyscraper gives me a fright. I don’t recognise myself. Who is that strange woman? Who does she think she is? Nice job cutting your bangs crooked again, you glossy idiot.
Little less lost. At least for now. I can walk all the way down Sacramento without pulling out my phone. Dodging the cars blaring their horns at each other—’beep…beep…beeeeeep’—like they’re sending morse code out into the air. Overtaking the tourists, with sensible walking shoes, and the lovers, with matching suntans, strolling slow. Watching the businessmen ride their mid life crisis off into the sunset on a single-wheel Segway.
I guess they’re all right, in a way. Times like these do call for Segways, suntans, and sensible walking shoes. I like it here. I like the city in all its odd beauty. I like the traffic jams and the crowds. I like listening to everyone talk. I like meeting all my heroes. I like walking alone. I like walking beside you. I like writing it all down. I like how everything happens, and happens, and continues to happen. Another day in the United States of America. Not from ’round here, but in San Francisco, maybe no one is.
I meet San Francisco in the middle of the night. Woozy. Bright-eyed. Thousands of miles away from everyone, and everything, I’ve ever known. My taxi driver squashes his hair under a baseball cap before cocking his head back. “You from the East Coast?”, he says. “No…” I say, “not at all”. The highway we’re hurtling down is almost empty. Nothing to watch except the lights. He pulls over, and spits my suitcase out at the curb.
I meet Whitney for the first time at 1am. She leaves the lights on and waits for me. Opening the door, giving me a hug, helping me pull my suitcase up the stairs. How our lives have crossed in a world as big as this feels cosmic. The next morning I see this city for the first time in daylight. All the terrace houses pushed close to each other, and the water at the edge of town. Glittering. Strange. Unreal. And then, there’s Butchershop.
That building on 432 Clay St is the reason why. Why we’re here. Why we packed our bags. Why we met. The exterior is a grey-black, except for the ground floor window facing the street. It shifts in colour depending on where you’re standing— like a beautiful 3 metre tall oil slick. Inside the space is dotted with skylights, iterations of projects hung up with sticky tape, and black handwriting squiggled all over the walls. Oh, and dogs. Lots of dogs. Whitney and I share a desk on the second floor. On our first few days we receive just as many hugs, as we do handshakes. Everyday, brand new, going at hyper-speed.
Life changes at such a velocity I start singing all my words. In awe. Misty-eyed. Overwhelmed. Out of my mind. I lose my balance on the train. I get lost in the supermarket, and if not the supermarket, then on all the streets I don’t know the names of. I crash from the jet lag, and then get back up and do it all over again. Every string plucked out of my heart and restrung. Day after day. Night after night.
I never thought my life could take a turn this bright. Neither of us did. All the dahlias in bloom. All the cars driving with the windows down and the sunroofs open. All the pilots flying Blue Angels overhead— so loud that everyone stands in the street with their hands over their ears. And the sun, at golden hour, like a slow motion camera flash, drifting through the buildings. Can all the people in this town see it? Can they feel what this feels like? The dream. The dream. The dream. Here it is. Here we go.
Every year, San Francisco Design Week creates a theme to express the current culture of design and creativity in business. This year’s theme is Start Here. We were inspired by it and wanted to go big. We interpreted Start Here as Help People. So we began thinking of a new way to help people that makes sense in today’s world of creative industries, where the old internship model may not be the best solution.
So Butchershop created something new and officially launched the World’s Greatest Internship during San Francisco Design Week. With hundreds of people in attendance we shared the details of the program: 2 lucky interns will be selected to participate in a 6 month internship, in 6 different cities around the world (1 city per month), at a combination of 6 different agencies/companies.
Most companies pride themselves on culture that attracts great talent. We do too. A good internship can make all the difference in the world. As Butchershop CEO, Trevor Hubbard said, “the value of this program comes from giving interns the chance to experience the span of the creative services business.”
Our partner AUFI, who connects businesses to a network of the world’s best independent creative agencies, helped us align with other organizations who equally value helping people and investing in the future by creating opportunities. We’re excited to announce the roster of Butchershop in San Francisco, Collins in New York, Made Thought in London, Base in Brussels, Parkside in Austria, and Re|in Australia.
This program is meant to celebrate a global community, connection, and diversity of experience and culture. It’s an internship for the creative–idea thinker and maker. It’s not just for designers, it’s for anyone interested in all that goes into thinking of great ideas and making them come to life.
Today, businesses are placing greater emphasis on culture and it’s obvious that great culture attracts exceptional talent — that’s clear as I look around our office. But it takes more than an amazing culture. Companies need to focus on nurturing a global and connected community.
Creatively solving complex problems is a human characteristic, and is not something that should be isolated to individual groups or disciplines. We need universal dialogue, cross pollination of ideas, and new perspectives with unconventional solutions driven by a fearless urgency.
The World’s Greatest Internship is rethinking the internship experience and what it means to help people explore the tenets of creativity in business. We hope in the same way we were inspired to help people, others are inspired to be a catalyst for change, and think of a better way to help people.