What Matters: Armin Vit on the Wonders of Work and the Merits of Milk Chocolate

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Up next: Armin Vit. Born and raised in Mexico City, Vit is a graphic designer and writer now living in Bloomington, IN, best-known for writing opinions on logo and identity redesigns for the past 15 years on Brand New. With Bryony Gomez-Palacio, he is co-founder of UnderConsideration.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

I probably need to say something like “spending time with my family” or “sitting by a fireplace reading a good book,” but what I like doing the most in the world is working. I like the routine of it, I like the purpose of it, I like the constant challenge of it, and I like the feeling of achievement when things go right. I enjoy what I do, and I like that it changes and evolves along with me so it’s a reflection of who I am and where I am.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Isn’t it the same for everyone? The moment we all drew that ‘S’ thing by connecting the two sets of three lines into that heavy-metal monogram? I remember drawing it over and over and doing patterns of it in my notebooks. Now that I ponder back at it, it’s such a great exercise for what we do as designers, and to discover it so early on and to teach your brain that you can make those abstract connections and turn them into something else is pretty deep stuff.

What is your biggest regret?

Not appreciating more, in the moment, all the things my parents did for me. Especially the things I appreciate so much now. Like … my attitude when they took me to museums in different parts of the world was the shittiest, and they were just trying to expose me to different things and ideas, and all I could do was complain and make their experience suck. But because karma is a bitch, I can now experience what my parents did as I drag my kids through museums and trail hikes.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

I’m pretty lucky that I haven’t experienced real, significant heartbreak. That is not to say that the passing of my grandmothers or aunts wasn’t sad—it was—but I think the kind of heartbreak you are referring to I have yet to experience. I am happily married to the only girlfriend I ever had, my parents and brother are alive, and my kids are alive. So, I guess, long story short: n/a.

What makes you cry?

I don’t cry a lot, but I get choked up very easily, and in that regard, pretty much anything remotely emotional will make me choke up: movies, ads, cartoons, anything. Something that’s kind of unique is giving a standing ovation after a live performance … something about expressing my joy and emotion for others that have achieved something significant makes me want to cry. As an extension of that … any time I try to express real, deep gratitude or appreciation for someone, I can never finish my thoughts without my voice breaking. Whenever I say thank you to our audience at the Brand New Conference, I have to make a huge effort to not cry.

As I was re-reading my answers, I would like to add the one thing that does make me full-on cry: reading about the loss of a pet from someone I know. There is something about that connection between animals and humans, and when you lose a pet it’s such a strong feeling, so I feel a lot for when friends or even just Facebook acquaintances lose a pet.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

Unfortunately not long enough. If something good happens, I acknowledge it, I sort of file it in the cabinet in my head that gives me self-confidence, and then I move on to the next thing that needs accomplishing. On the other hand, I guess I could say that I have a constant sense of accomplishment every day, especially when I think back on what a lazy teenager I was and how I had zero ambitions for anything other than video games. The fact that I have accomplished something professionally fills me with joy and the drive to keep doing it every day.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I wouldn’t say I believe or don’t believe, because no one really knows, but so much weird stuff happens in life that I can’t help but think that some of that is the cause of the energy people release into the ether while alive and after death … so, I dunno, I guess our soul or brain or whatever just lingers out there but without repercussions. But, yeah, I have no idea.

What do you hate most about yourself?

My inflexibility. I am a socially functioning control freak but I really, really have a hard time letting others do other stuff instead of me. It’s not healthy because then I have to do more work myself. Related … if you take me out of my routine, I get very pissy. Even an unscheduled phone call can put me in a very foul mood.

What do you love most about yourself?

I would like to think that I am a very nice person. I try to be as nice as possible to everyone, no matter what. And I don’t say that to make me feel good or portray me in a good light, but it’s unbelievable how shitty most people are to most other people, so I do love that I am able to be … just, decent, I guess.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Milk chocolate. I know that’s not a meal but there is nothing more in the world that I love to eat than milk chocolate. And it doesn’t even have to be fancy shit … give me a giant Easter bunny wrapped in corny tinfoil and I will eat that thing in the blink of an eye. The faster I eat it, the more joy it gives me.