Bridging the Gap Between Design Education and a Creative Career

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Chatting with Frankie Ratford, Founder of The Design Kids

Hagit Kaufman, VP of Design at Wix, and head of the largest multidisciplinary in-house studio in Israel, sits down to chat with designer Frankie Ratford, the Founder and Creative Directive of The Design Kids, a global online resource and local offline community for thousands of student and graduate graphic designers. Frankie is returning guest speaker at the Wix Design Playground in NYC.

Frankie Ratford at the Playground

Frankie Ratford at the Playground

H: We loved having you at the Playground last year and are so happy to be working with you again!

F: Glad to be back at the Playground! Last year the students were super sweet and really switched on, you guys did a great job of selecting a varied bunch of designers with different strengths. I was there right at the end and it was great to see their Wix portfolios taking shape!

H: You’ve traveled the world to build a global community what are some of the challenges you encountered in doing so?

F: I’m struggling to answer this, it was too fun! I designed my job around everything I’m good at and nothing I’m bad at, so put me in a room with 500 strangers and I’m happy! I love meeting and connecting with designers, it’s fun and easy for me. The challenging thing would be to work and meet with people all the time – as always, we just need more time. Subtle cultural differences are super interesting but just listen and observe and then it’s fine.

H: You are so good with people and giving them the right advice about their professional path. What are some of the burning issues creatives face in this industry and how does this color the counsel that you give?

F: The top three are confidence, industry knowledge and business know-how. Starting with confidence: 100% of the people I meet struggle with “am I good enough,” and the answer is always YES! You just have to find your way and your own strengths, and not compare yourself to others. As for industry knowledge, that’s why I set up – a place where you can research everyone within this industry and learn what they do. And finally, for business know-how – I’m working on it! No one really has their act together, it is about having a great attitude, putting yourself out there and doing your best. The rest will follow.

Wix Design Playground

F: In your opinion, how does the Playground bridge the gap between design education and a creative career?

H: That question gets exactly to the point of why we started the Playground in the first place! While design education has come a long way since I was a student, I really believe that creatives need a solid professional core before venturing into the real world. Designers need to bridge the gap between what they learn in school and how they ultimately forge a career with skills such as client relations, communication, and the ability to market their talent. Programs like The Design Kids and what we are doing with the Playground are good examples of creative, non-traditional types of learning experience.

F: During this program you share tons of knowledge on web design with the students – why is web design a crucial tool for any kind of designer?

H: A strong understanding of digital imaging and presence is key! For a designer, knowing how to create a beautiful site and understanding how it is consumed will help them grow immensely in the creative world.

F: What type of designers do you look for to work in your studio? What traits and skills do they need to be successful in tech?

H: In my opinion a good designer is a good designer! Our studio has incredible design experts in product, 3D, branding, architecture, fashion, and visual experts – some of who have never received a formal design education. Our designers all bring inspiration and talent to the larger creative collective. Designers are like olive oil – especially in tech – they bind everything together! Our designers exist in every element of our products. They bring to life every aspect of the product development and truly speak to our consumers, which is the most important thing!

Learn more about the Wix Design Playground now!