Facebook’s Brian Singer at HOW Design Live

You could say that design leader Brian Singer is making his mark on the world. An acclaimed artist in his own right and accomplished creative force, Brian’s work has big name appeal (to say the least). This tenacity, talent and influence has made him visible to brand giants such as Facebook – where he now manages the Communication Design team.

New to the HOW Design Live line-up this year, Brian brings a rich history of design and creative direction with brands such as Apple and Adidas. He continues to receive unending praise for The 1,000 Journals Project, and with his brand new book on store shelves (and mobile devices) we thought this was a great time to check in before the big Boston event.

Brain Singer at HOW Leadership Conference 2014

Brian Singer You’ve had a very interesting design career. What’s the strangest (or most influential) moment of your career?

I was on vacation when I received an email from Alissa Walker. She was inviting me to participate in GOOD Design Bay Area, where they partner creative leaders with local government and non-profits to solve real world problems. I’d have just two weeks to work with the Red Cross to solve the disaster relief supply distribution system in the Bay Area. I pondered it for a day, thinking through all the possible solutions. I had absolutely no idea how to solve the problem, I didn’t even have any concepts with possibilities. So I emailed Alissa back and told her that, of course, I accept her challenge. I think designers tend to operate in areas of safety. We know what works, and we repeat it for clients time and time again. For me, this was entirely out of my comfort zone, and therefore, more of a growing opportunity than designing another identity or website. I now pursue these types of challenges.

Sounds pretty influential. What about a a side business or passion project to which you give your time or services?

I’ve been working with hospitals and organizations to run journaling projects. It’s called 1001 Journals (after The 1,000 Journals Project), and the first big project was with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Currently, the project is running at Children’s Hospital Oakland and Koret House. We’re also in talks with several other organizations to launch the program. Brian Singer Any advice for getting out of a creative rut?

I’ve found the best way to reset is to change the environment. Sit/work somewhere new. Go for a walk. Anything to focus my mind on something else.

What are you working on now that you’re super excited about?

Aside from the journaling project, I’m most excited with my pursuit of fine art. I’ve created a body of work exploring word frequency and patterns, as well as graphic works using paper taken off of telephone poles in San Francisco. You can check it out at iamsomeguy.com.

Can you tell us about one event, or one piece of advice, or one mentor that made a significant difference to you?

It’s so cliché, especially coming from me, but pursue what you love. If you love poster design, do it. If you love packaging, do it. Every second you spend doing something else is a waste of your time (unless you’re learning, of course). Success and happiness are not necessarily correlated.

Who are the other creative people – inside the design world or beyond it – impressing you right now? Whose creative chops do you envy?

To be honest, there isn’t a lot that excites me in the design world. There are many talented people, doing great work, but there’s very little innovation. I find some of the more interesting work is being done in game design, and human / digital interactions. The way we interact with technology, our environment, and each other is changing, and while I don’t have a specific person or company I think is at the forefront, I find it fascinating from a sociological point of view.

Last: What’s your favorite:

1) app – Nachos. (appetizer)

2) website – Facebook (I know, I know, I work there. But it’s where I keep up with friends)

3) book – Brave New World.

Graphic Content, Brian Singer


Laugh with and learn from your favorite designers – check out Brian Singer’s new book, Graphic Content, available now at My Design Shop!

Want more Brian Singer, Debbie Millman, Aaron Draplin, and Stefan Sagmeister? Be sure to check out HOW Design Live, coming to Boston, May 12-16!