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October 10, 2018

Five Questions with Josh Silverman: Designer, Educator, and Optimist

Josh Silverman’s first job, at age 15, was scooping snow cones at a summer carnival. “The owner of the joint was disappointed in me for filling the cone,” he says, and he’s been exceeding expectations ever since.

Josh is a designer, entrepreneur, guest lecturer, juror, and the founder and CEO of Startnership. For the past two decades, Josh has founded and scaled design businesses, advised startups, taught and hosted workshops, and built and connected communities. His favorite thing to do, he says, is design teams. Sometimes that means bringing together the right combination of designers, researchers, strategists, writers, and engineers. Other times it means teaming founders of a startup with their very first designer. He describes his work as “design leadership with heart, mind, and optimism.”

We will benefit from Josh’s wisdom and experience when he facilitates “Feedback: The Gift You Keep on Receiving (and Giving)”, a workshop we’ll be hosting on January 18, the day after the 2019 In/Visible Talks conference.

Get to know Josh, and get inspired to create.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“It doesn’t matter what your process looks like, how many phases there are or what they’re called, or at what point you enter the process—but be sure to have one!”

How or where to you find inspiration?

“Following my instinct. Getting ‘lost’. Making connections across and between things that don’t seem to go together but do. And walking around cities, especially when everyone’s asleep.”

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Getting out of my own way.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“I was doodling logos and coming up with jingles when I was a kid, well before I learned it was called branding.”

What drives you to create?

“Opportunities. As well as frustrations. And turning frustrations into opportunities. There’s still so much education needed about design’s place and function in the world, and there’s so much work to be done. It’s an amazing time to be a designer.”

BONUS ROUND: Who are your your heroes and why?

“The two female founders of Hövding, in Malmö, Sweden. They won my heart by asking fundamental questions about what a bike helmet should look like and how it should perform. As a cyclist, I benefit further by protecting my neck, as well as my head; as a designer and entrepreneur, I love their story and support their success.”