August 22, 2011
This is the second story in a series. Read first post about Noma.
Leslie Worth, Creative Director
Last week I sat down with Leslie, my creative director, to chat about how design shapes her. In my opinion, Leslie looks creative, from fun and expressive outfits to her fearless changes in hairstyles. I have had the pleasure of working with Leslie for the past 5 years, learning from her and collaborating on some great projects, both client-facing and internally.
Leslie grew up in the Midwest, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin to be more specific. She attended the university of Cincinnati, where she obtained a B.S. in graphic design as well as participating in a co-op program that took her other cities, such as Boston.
One of the things I really enjoy is Leslie’s love for illustrating. I wondered how long it had been a talent of her and she began to tell me a story. “My first experience was when I was 5 and I created a book of illustrations that told the story of my whole family. I illustrated everyone and wrote out their names. When I was done and put the book together, everything was backwards!” Better yet, she still has the book, which I am sharing with you here.
She continued talking about her younger days, when she was involved in creating yearbooks, albums and sports programs in junior high and high school. She drew the covers and put them together. Looking back she said, “I was designing before I even knew what design was.” She felt that her father was a big contributor to this early-age movement. He saw her talent and introduced her to a peer that participated in the co-op program at UC, that then she worked in during college.
Leslie also learned her love for typography at the University of Cincinnati. “Most people don’t like typography and disregard it. Such a big part of design is the message. The purpose of design is to communicate; typography is how you get that across. So I decided early on that I would be very focused on it.” I had to ask her what her favorite font is, “Helvetica—but this is highly influenced by the movie.”
Recently in our office, I had noticed a poster hanging on her door, on which cool things appear. These are things that she wants to share or display for one reason or another, but this poster was something that she had worked on for a sustainable design competition, and the prevalent font is: Helvetica.
I was curious as to how Leslie viewed design within her life and how it shaped her. “It kind of rules my life. I have been designing for so long, it takes over my life. Everything I do is design oriented—how I decorate my house, how I dress—the processes we go through in design are the same processes I go through in my daily life. My dreams are in those processes, which could be viewed as a bad thing and it can be a bit overwhelming.”
With a life surrounded by design, I was interested in finding out how Leslie viewed design in the world, did design make the world go around. “I think design makes it go around—better. It organizes your thoughts, it communicates. Design is a main communication vehicle to make things happen” she said. She also shared the downside of such a great thing where design influences consumption. “Unfortunately it does make the world consume, use, and continue to buy. Consume, consume, consume!”
I wondered what Leslie’s dreams might be. “ I would say I would like to teach. I have done all the fancy, award-winning, cool design and have gotten that out of my system. Now it’s about teaching and mentoring and spreading cool design.” With that answer, I came to the realization that she has accomplished many things that I would aspire to in my career.
As we ended our conversation, she thought of one more dream. “I would love to get an old Airstream trailer and drive around to little cities and give them good design. Of course I would need to be independently wealthy so I could charge them a reduced rate (she giggled).”