Interview 1: Eri

What is it like to participate in an Esin workshop? Eri, a designer who participated in the Tokyo workshop held in February 2015, provides us with some answers.
“I unexpectedly rediscovered my originality.”

How did the workshop affect you?

I was hoping to explore a new style for my work, but it turned out I unexpectedly rediscovered my originality. I realized that burdening myself with the pressure to be a multi-skilled designer was too much, so I no longer try to replicate other people’s work even if it results in being rejected by a client. It’s been 2 month since the workshop ended, but my self-confidence hasn’t weakened. It’s like I’ve been constantly working on an assignment ever since then. The things I learned from the workshop and found most useful are the importance of continuous learning, how to handle things you are not convinced about, and your mental approach.

Did it have any influence on your design work?

While at work, John’s (Warwicker – Creative Leader) words sometimes pop into my head. The workshop taught me how enjoyable it could be to be fully focused on your work. There are certain skills you can only learn by practice in the same way athletes do. I still retain that feeling of staying focused at work. You need to stop and think once in a while, but it’s important to think harder and faster, and simply “DO IT”. I try to be creative as much as I can.

What was your impression of the workshop?

I was completely immersed in the assignments – sometimes five different tasks at the same time. I didn’t have a computer or any tools, but it turned out OK as soon as I realised I could do many things with a little redirection of my thinking. During the workshop, I didn’t have time to relax, but now I know that was deliberate. Somehow I’m not afraid of being lonely. Shorter workshops can give some benefits, but a 10 day workshop leaves a much longer-lasting impression on you.

“We think differently, so what?”

Which part of the exercises did you enjoy most?

I enjoyed all of John’s exercises. One of the assignments was about typography, and the whole research process at the library was very interesting. When I showed my work to John, he gave his opinion about tiniest details of my work. I was also inspired by Joel’s (Baumann – Creative Leader) philosophy on technology. I couldn’t wait to hear his feedback. The workshop taught me that it’s important to use your imagination and make guesses. It doesn’t matter how important the subject is. Now I think I have more open-minded thinking.

How did you evolve mentally?

The workshop changed my attitude toward design, and my attitude at work. I think I managed to evolve from the level of a self-taught designer. It’s crucial to never stop learning, to communicate with others, and keep meeting new people, to develop a richer creative skillset. Now, I enjoy work more than I used to. I can work non-stop. The workshop gave me confidence that my curiosity can be piqued by many things, and the discussions with non-Japanese people were valuable experiences. It’s as if I didn’t have much interest in design before attending the workshop. I learned about the creative process of some of the top creators in the world, and had a chance to try out those processes myself. There are unlimited number of processes you can apply.

What did you learn about communication?

John said it’s up to us how we handle relationships with others, including unpleasant clients. In the Creative Conversation, Graham (Wood – Creative Leader) said something but Joel said he had completely different opinion. It was like “we think differently, so what?” I want to be as confident as they are, and express my thoughts with a firm attitude. After you experience an Esin Workshop, you will be ready to work with anybody. I had a chance to have a glimpse of what a global society of professionals would look like.

“Before the workshop, I could only ask questions, but now I can present my thoughts.”

Did the workshop change how you approach your work?

Now, I have better understanding of how to set personal goals. For example, the moment I put pen to paper, I discovered that drawing and comparing different curves of a letter “R” could be a facinating process. I had forgotten the joy of making things but John helped me recover that. Before the workshop, I went out to see people whenever I was stuck at work, but the workshop taught me that I could be a ‘lone wolf’, completely immersed in the creative process. I quit spending time on unnecessary shopping and meeting people for nothing. I now have more happy hours.

How do you handle difficult situations?

The ultimate goal for a designer isn’t just creating something that looks good, it’s more important to accept your lack of knowledge and try to find how you can make good things. I had no idea how to do research in a library, but to accept that you don’t know about something is a start, and the Esin Workshop taught me how to analyze and approach assignments. You can’t convince people if your work is not honest. Other participants had different styles of work but all of them were honest and having fun.

What is the Esin spirit?

It’s a positive feeling of self-confidence. In the beginning of the workshop, I was like “This is bad” or “I can’t do this and that”. But the workshop helped me be neutral in any situation, and to be humble. If I truly enjoy making something, it can reach the hearts of people. Before the workshop, I could only ask questions, but now I can present my thoughts. What happens is a meaningful interaction with others, the catching and throwing of ideas. I recommend those who work in a closed office space to join and feel how your strands of thought increase in variety.