We had the good fortune of connecting with Guillaume Azadian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Guillaume, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
As a creative designer, I would say that the number one habit that helped me develop and succeed is to stay curious about anything slightly related to design. I do this through museums, movies, comics, discussions with peers, reading, drawing, and so on. Tools are constantly evolving, trends come and go, and the amount of new skills you could add to your skillset is almost infinite (3D, illustration, motion design, photography, etc.), and staying curious is keeping me sharp. Curiosity is also a good way to keep pleasure at the center of my craft. I would get bored over the years if I was doing the same things in the same exact way. Secondarily, having side projects helped me a lot in finding my style and getting better at it. Although we should always be mindful of the balance between paid and unpaid work of course!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had a few very lovely moments so far in my career. I think that winning awards are great and something I’m quite proud of, but recently I’ve grown a real interest in mentoring passionate young designers. An ex-coworker told me that he learned a lot from me and that I was the reason why he decided to stay longer at the company where we met (which he had plans to leave initially). I must say that I was pretty touched. While it has been and still is a very exciting journey, there were bumps along the way. Primarily, it took me a while to discover my passion for graphic design. I also had a skewed perception of what makes a good designer. I was convinced that it was mostly about talent when in fact it was 99% about work and perseverance. Growing up, graphic arts/design was not of interest to anyone in my circle. I discovered those career possibilities while I was studying marketing in college and it took me a while to get over the imposter syndrome. Feeling late to the game and disadvantaged in that sense pushed me to work harder and constantly seek new experiences.
I also struggled understanding how to reconcile substance and shape because I really love the craft behind graphic design and I’m a huge perfectionist. Sure, most graphic designers are, but I used to go through endless rabbit holes, not knowing when to stop or if this would really make a difference in the end. I discovered after a lot of trials and errors that I was sometimes focusing on the design craft while neglecting the idea behind the design.
One piece of advice was given to me at design school that has helped me through hard times in my career. One of my teachers said, “There are going to be times when you will get work that doesn’t fulfill your expectations, and maybe sometimes no work at all. When that happens, don’t fight against the wind… make time for side projects that make you happy because eventually, that is what you will be hired for.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To be honest, LA is as vast as it is entertaining, the possibilities are pretty endless. I love the food (omg the Mexican food), the easy weather, the vibe, but I think that the thing I would recommend above all is to rent a car and road trip along the coast as this is probably the most magical thing you can do. This is just the ultimate area for road trips.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I actually feel so grateful for so many people’s support. It may sound silly but the first person that comes to mind is my mother as she always supported me both financially and emotionally while I was finding my way as a design student. The simple fact that someone trusts that you’re making the best choices even when you doubt yourself goes a long way. Now, my shoutout list is pretty long so I’ll try to shorten it.
One of the best teachers I’ve ever had used to always be super positive about what I would show her which, surprisingly, helped me develop self-critic a lot. I felt encouraged and I suppose that I didn’t want to disappoint her so I was trying my best to push things to the best I could do.
My old friend Bart taught me some Photoshop basics one day and I spent the night on it. This simple discovery led me to start a design school.
Back at my first design job, one of the founders taught me how not to take things personally at work, I still use his advice up to this day.
I’m very grateful for the more senior designers who invest some of their personal time in jurying and curating design pieces as this helped me develop as a designer (a lot actually). I now also dedicate some of my time to jurying at Awwwards and at some design schools.
The last person I’d like to thank is my old friend Louis who once wrote me a message saying that they were looking for designers at their company in NYC, which is what led me to live in the US.
Digital design by Guillaume Azadian.