Design Matters: Adam J. Kurtz

Adam J. Kurtz delves into the human experience and explores the duality of time—everything changes, yet tomorrow isn’t promised—in his new book, “You Are Here (For Now).”

Adam J. Kurtz delves into the human experience and explores the duality of time—everything changes, yet tomorrow isn’t promised—in his new book, “You Are Here (For Now).”

Debbie: Just like people, some books are challenging, some are boring, some are beautiful. And some like Adam J. Kurtz’s latest book, are like your new best friend. You Are Here (For Now): A Guide to Finding Your Way does what we’d all like our close friends to do for us in these difficult times. It picks you up when you’re down, it gives wise counsel. It encourages us in our creative work. It’s funny, and gentle, and caring, and witty. And it’s a book you just want to be around. Adam J. Kurtz is a designer, and artist, and entrepreneur, and a mensch. Adam, welcome back to Design Matters.

Adam J. Kurtz: Thanks for having me, Debbie.

Debbie: Our interview today is the second time you’ve been on Design Matters. So I want to start by asking you about something. I seem to have missed in our first interview, which I’ve subsequently regretted and want to ask you about now. I understand you have a special relationship to the game Candy Crush. Still?

Adam J. Kurtz: Oh my God. I was playing Candy Crush every day for like seven years. 

Debbie: Seven years?

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. For so, so long, my life was marked by this Candy Crush addiction. And I only probably spent $10 the whole time. So I’m still frugal. But at some point in the pandemic, I stopped playing.

Debbie: Why?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think my subconscious brain knew if I didn’t shut down Candy Crush, it would be 12 hours a day.

Debbie: It would crush you. Couldn’t resist. 

Adam J. Kurtz: I didn’t even see that coming.

Debbie: Me neither. So what was it about? So I have a confession. I’ve never once played Candy Crush. I don’t even know really beyond that it’s a game on your phone. I don’t know anything else about it.

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, it’s a pretty simple puzzle game. And level by level, the situations change, the variables change. What’s nice is that you can play it with one hand, so you can do it on the train. And then they sort of gamify it by there’s bonus items that you can win or pay for. There’s bonus lives that you can win or pay for. And I noticed that over the seven years, something I would notice as a creative, as a writer and designer is they would change things to sort of psychologically encourage you to keep playing. And there was one day when I realized they had changed the language around losing a life to make it seem like if you didn’t keep playing, you were giving up. And I was so like, “That’s gross. I’m not going to stop playing, but that’s gross.”

Debbie: So during the pandemic, one day you just woke up and said, I’m done?

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, maybe during the pandemic, I was too stoned. For 18 months I was just too high to play. No, I don’t know. I’m kidding. But I don’t know. I just stopped. I think so. Yeah.

Debbie: Well, our interview today is about five years since the first, and a lot has changed for you. 

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah.

Debbie: You got married to Mitchell Kuga in 2017. You moved from New York City to Hawaii pretty recently. How different does everything feel for you, especially being back in New York right now?

Adam J. Kurtz: Being back in New York is so wonderful, but also very affirming, because I love going to my familiar places and eating good pizza. But I’m looking around and I’m thinking, “You know what? I am very satisfied with my choice to leave.” And Mitchell is born and raised in Honolulu. And during the pandemic, it became clear to him that he wanted to be closer to his parents, and he wanted to be closer to his home. I had to think about it for awhile, because I’ve really pegged my identity to being a Jewish New Yorker. I wanted that. That’s my dream.

Debbie: I hear you.

Adam J. Kurtz: But when you are in love, it changes everything. And I had this moment of I love this person. It is the number one thing that matters to me more than anything, I’m going to do it. And I have fallen in love with it. I love our little home. I love decorating our home and buying kitschy nonsense to put all over it. I’m having a lot of fun.

Debbie: And how has your practice changed since you’ve moved?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that my work has always been about the things are what you make of them mantra of use what you have, just make the best of the supplies at hand. So a lot of my art has already been office supplies. Simple stationery lofi tools, but this new book You Are Here (For Now) was created in my sister-in-law’s childhood bedroom on a little blue desk that was actually so small, I couldn’t sit at it straight. I would sit the way I’m sitting now with my leg crossed. I mean, I’m also gray. So I think that’s why this is happening.

Debbie: You’re also very tall. 

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. Podcast listeners, please know that I’m taller than I might seem. But I had to take all my own advice and make a whole book, write the book. Do the handwriting art, do the scanning, do the photography from my bedroom.

Debbie: Sister-in-law’s childhood bedroom?

Adam J. Kurtz: With a Hello Kitty piggy bank watching over me.

Debbie: What color were the walls?

Adam J. Kurtz: Blue.

Debbie: Interesting. Least they weren’t gender nonconforming.

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, Marissa’s cool. She had a baby blue desk, and she had a very vibrant blue wall. Extremely on brand for me. Yeah, it was very cool.

Debbie: Since you’ve been on Design Matters before, I don’t want to be redundant with your origin story, which we’ve spoken about at length on our previous podcasts. But since I haven’t interviewed you in a few years, I’d like to give folks a little refresher, just sort of some highlights. Are you good with that? 

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah.

Debbie: Okay, good. So you grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Toronto. You went to school at a Yeshiva.

Adam J. Kurtz: I did.

Debbie: So did my brother. Yet you and Mitchell were married by a Buddhist teacher and universal life minister in the rare books room of the Strand Bookstore. Talk about faith. Is it still a big part of your life? And if so, has it changed at all?

Adam J. Kurtz: Faith has changed a lot for me. When I realized that Orthodox Judaism was not for me, I kind of shut down on faith. Some people are irreligious or I should say atheist or agnostic because they just haven’t spent too much time with it. It’s not of interest to them. I know too much. I have to hold my tongue when people who are culturally Jewish are celebrating things or telling me things that they love. And in my head, I’m like, “Well, if you study the Talmud, it’s different.” And then I’m like, “Adam, they don’t care. I don’t care.” So I’ve come back around to spirituality and faith in a more kind of universal way. I believe in love, and energy, and the way that we show up for each other. I believe in the imprint that the people we love leave on us even after they’re gone. But I also love shrimp. I love shrimp. And how sad would it be for me if I never tried shrimp? 

Debbie: What about bacon and lobster?

Adam J. Kurtz: Controversial opinion. I like crab a lot more than lobster. 

Debbie: Really?

Adam J. Kurtz: I do. To me, lobster is just a holder for butter. And if something’s going to hold butter, I would want it to be-

Debbie: Bread?

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. You can take the Jew out of the [inaudible 00:07:31], but-

Debbie: You can’t take the Jew out of the shell. You said that growing up was like living in a non-stop Michaels. And I love that quote so much, I actually included it in my upcoming book. And you created monthly themes for your bedroom decor. Talk about the kinds of decorations and themes that you made.

Adam J. Kurtz: When I look back now, the path is so linear. Because I was just cutting up construction paper or Post-it notes, taping things together. The quality of my art hasn’t increased by too much. I’ve just gotten better at using it to communicate my voice. So I remember one time the theme was up in the sky and I cut out these cloud shapes, and had birds. And I probably had a hot air balloon, that sort of thing. And-

Debbie: You made an actual cloud from what I remember, no?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think it was just the cloud shaped paper, but a lot of them. And I probably spent a whole weekend doing it. And then my family was like, “Oh great. That’s really great for you.”

Debbie: By the time you were 12, you had taught yourself basic coding and began building fan sites, including one for Pokemon. Are you still a Pokemon fan? My wife and brother are obsessed by the way.

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, I am not a huge Pokemon fan. But out in Hawaii, we play this game called pickleball twice a week. And on Saturdays, a family comes and they have young kids who love Pokemon. And they have a very well weathered Pokemon book, and they’re constantly flipping the pages and they’re like, “Do you know what this is? Do you know what this is?” And I have won a lot of cool points with an eight year old. 

Debbie: Very nice. That’s impressive. You have a range that I would have been unaware of had I not done this new bit of research. You’ve been using your middle initial J as part of how you share your name since middle school, and the J stands for Jason. And one other thing I learned about you in this recent round of research was that you’ve always loved that your name starts with an A and ends with a Z. And did your parents do that on purpose?

Adam J. Kurtz: I don’t think so. I think it is just coincidental. 

Debbie: You can use the Amazon logo if you needed to.

Adam J. Kurtz: I would love to use the Amazon logo. My favorite brand that I support.

Debbie: He’s joking listeners, just so you know.

Adam J. Kurtz: I’m not joking. Jeff Bezos, I love you. And please don’t murder me in my sleep. Those drones.

Debbie: Adam, you went to community college for a year when you were 16 years old. Why did you graduate high school so young?

Adam J. Kurtz: I left Yeshiva when I came out. And there was no longer a place there for me. It was also the last place I wanted to be. I was sneaking out of my Yeshiva to take GED prep courses. That’s true. And then I took the GED, and I just got on with life.

Debbie: What is your relationship with your parents now that you’re out?

Adam J. Kurtz: It was tough at first. I think that is not an uncommon story. But they have come around in a way that I’m very grateful for. They’ve met up with me and my husband before. We’re actually going to see them this weekend, now that I’m on the East Coast again. And I can’t wait. And I think that it is a thing where time heals wounds, and also, our parents worry for us. I think people of a certain generation, they hear that their kid is gay and they think, “My son’s going to die of AIDS.” That’s the first thing they think. And for them to see me be happy, be my whole self, to find love, to build a career. Really rooted in my identity where being gay has not only not hurt me, but probably helped, has I think led them past that fear to just see me as I am today.

Debbie: You transferred to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County after an advisor at the community college told you about their graphic design program. And you transferred and have said that you wouldn’t be who you are today right now, without the experience you had there. What made it so special for you?

Adam J. Kurtz: UNBC for me was a small enough school where you would really get out of it what you put in. A lot of people were commuting students, or were involved with Greek life, or athletics, or science. The art community there was very different. So I was able to be the vice president of the Arts Council of Majors. And I was the marketing director for the campus radio station. And I was one of the designers for the student events board. And I did design for the student government association. And I was the manager at Common Vision, which was the campus print and design center. I did so much that wasn’t coursework. And that really taught me to think on my feet. It taught me how to recreate a logo from a blurry JPEG. And it taught me how to really maximize black and white printing, to really create work on a shoestring budget for these student groups that were given maybe $20 of printing tokens that I had to maximize. So I’m so, so grateful for that experience.

Debbie: Was that the first time you felt like you were getting feedback for your creative work?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that I had gotten feedback online. I was very active in online communities and message boards. The Michelle Branch message board was very big for me. And I did do a design for Michelle Branch’s MySpace page. It was one of my first gigs for Warner Music Group at 16. But to get feedback on work that required me to create in different aesthetics, different directions to be handed brand guidelines for the first time and have to execute within them really, really informed the work that I did professionally for the years after.

Debbie: It’s not unlikely that you very well may be the world’s biggest Michelle Branch fan.

Adam J. Kurtz: Oh, without a doubt the world’s biggest Michelle Branch fan.

Debbie: So talk about your relationship now.

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, I dedicated my first book to her and I wrote, “This book is dedicated to Michelle Branch, who I do not know personally.” And then by the second book she had, blurbed it. And now in You Are Here (For Now), I quote one of her lyrics. We’re friends now. It’s very unique. She has a guest episode on the You Are Here (For Now) Podcast where she let me pick three songs to play. And I got her to debut an unreleased song. 

Debbie: Wow.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. I mean my team dreams, dreams come true. You know?

Debbie: Who would have thought, right?

Adam J. Kurtz: I’m always pinching myself. I would love to be a New York Times Bestseller, but even if I’m not, Michelle Branch is performing at my book release. So I’m good.

Debbie: Now what would that mean to you to be a New York Times Bestseller?

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, I’m just so insecure that I am constantly seeking external validation in whatever way I can get it. And I already have the blue check mark. So now, I want the next one.

Debbie: It is a really wonderful book. We’ll talk about it in a few minutes, but I really do hope you get it because you certainly deserve it.

Adam J. Kurtz: I don’t even know if this book qualifies for it. It’s an interesting essay collection art book thing. I’m kind of being facetious. I do want it, but I’m just excited this book gets to exist.

Debbie: Well, whenever one of my friends does get it, I always say to them, “This is something you’re going to have now for the rest of your life. You’re a New York Times Bestselling author.” That’s pretty special.

Adam J. Kurtz: I did see a tweet recently that was like, “There’s too many New York Times Bestsellers.” someone who’s not an active reader, who was like, “How is this special if every book I see at Target says New York Times Bestseller.” And I was like, “Well, it’s actually quite hard to get your book at Target.”

Debbie: Life. When you first moved to New York City, you worked at the ad agency Barton Graf, and then got a job at BuzzFeed where you said you made GIFs or JIFs depending on how you say it all day and created memes in response to breaking news. And I didn’t even know that a job like that existed. What kind of job description did you respond to when you first applied for the job?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that the job was called social web artist. And I didn’t really know what that meant, but I was looking for a way to leave advertising. Barton F. Graf was such a cool agency. And I was a studio designer, which meant that I touched a little bit of everything and learned so much. And there came a day when I was offered a promotion to art director. And to be an art director of Barton F. Graf would have launched me in a very successful advertising career. That was a very sought after job. But I knew that taking that job would mean even less time for personal work. And there was something telling me that I actually needed a job that felt like adult retirement with a salary. So I did that instead.

Debbie: You’ve said that everything about your career trajectory has been a mistake. In what way?

Adam J. Kurtz: I remember calling it a pattern of flukes. And in retrospect, I realize that’s me being unkind to myself. To say it was a mistake or just pure luck really ignores the fact that I work hard. I work really hard. And something that’s happened as I’ve gotten older and also gotten on antidepressants is that I realized I was kind of sabotaging my own happiness in a lot of ways, including discrediting that work.

Debbie: How has addressing some of those issues from a mental health perspective changed how you view who you are and what you do? Because there was a time when you also said that design is the only thing you’ve ever been passionate about. Yet you’re a published author of several books. You’re a successful entrepreneur. Those words don’t really show up, entrepreneur doesn’t really show up very much in any of your bios.

Adam J. Kurtz: I would never publicly call myself an entrepreneur [crosstalk 00:17:45] Debbie said it, and I’m gratefully smiling. Yes, I am an entrepreneur. I am that. But to me, I’m a human, and an artist, and a designer first. The design skills are what enable me to make products and then sell products, enable me to design a logo and a website. So that’s been the thread that’s carried me through. It’s almost like I wasn’t an entrepreneur until I started making money. And then it was like, “Okay wait, maybe I’m an entrepreneur. Because I figured something out.”

Debbie: Some of your solo projects as an entrepreneur and an artist, maybe it should be an artrepreneur or something like that. Right? Some of your solo projects include a daily planner titled Unsolicited Advice, which you started in 2012 with a Kickstarter. You have an annual planner and a journal. You’ve designed postcards, many collections of pins, tee-shirts, stickers, even balloons. You’ve done some collaborative work with a number of retailers. And you partnered with Fishs Eddy to create a collection of dishware. Are retail collaborations still something you’re interested in doing?

Adam J. Kurtz: I love retail collaborations. Something that we know as designers and creators is you can’t do everything. So you hire the people who are good at what they do. And I could figure out manufacturing of ceramics, but do I want to? I would rather go to Fishs Eddy who make these beautiful pieces and know how to produce and distribute. So I’m always looking for what’s the next brand partnership that enables me to create work in a new medium.

Debbie: One other thing Adam that you did mention in our last interview was that you struggled with the word creative.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. I think it took me a while to wrap my head around that word, because it really became shorthand for something that was so all encompassing, it meant nothing. And what I’ve realized is that we actually need a blanket word for all the many elements of creativity that are jobs now. Because the jobs are evolving faster than the language for them is. Which is why at Buzzfeed, I was a social web artist, which that’s just three words. So creative really includes so many more people. But also, I think I’ve realized that, and this was sort of a theme of my book Things Are What You Make of Them is that creative is really a type. That artist type that tethers their happiness and self worth to productivity. The type that sees beauty in the world and seeks to replicate it, and then beats themselves up when they can’t get it right. Not everyone’s wired that way. So I really see creative and artist now as this sort of archetype, and those are my people.

Debbie: I agree. The one problem I have with the word creative is when it’s used in the plural creatives. I’m like please.

Adam J. Kurtz: You’re going to hate my subtitle Debbie, Life Advice for Creatives.

Debbie: Well, I just think it’s for artists, for creative people. I don’t hate the subtitle. I just don’t like when people say it.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. And you know what else? We know we mean artists, but so many people struggle with that word.

Debbie: They do.

Adam J. Kurtz: Creative is like we’ve softened it so that more people can find themselves in it. 

Debbie: That’s wonderful. I like the way you said that. Let’s talk about your new book.

Adam J. Kurtz: What is it called again? Is it You Are Here (For Now), available wherever books are sold?

Debbie: That’s what it’s called.

Adam J. Kurtz: Wow.

Debbie: I know. Well, in the last few years you’ve published several books, including Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives, Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later, and you just published your brand new book You Are Here (For Now): A Guide to Finding Your Way. Congratulations.

Adam J. Kurtz: Thank you.

Debbie: Talk about the title You Are Here (For Now). For now is in parentheses.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah.

Debbie: So for an artist, and a designer, and a creative person, that’s a big decision to put a title, part of a title in parentheses. 

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. I wanted to call out You Are Here (For Now) very specifically as a reminder that everything changes, but also time isn’t promised, you know? So it is simultaneously this it gets better. You’re only in this dark place temporarily. But also, don’t wait too long to change things because you could die at any time. And that wasn’t the original title. That was from a sketch that was in the original pitch back in 2019. The book was called Soon. And it was really more about optimism and waiting for things to get better. And then the pandemic happened. And how do you write a book about optimism in a pandemic? You don’t. It would be insane for me to just tell everyone, “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay,” while people are dying, while lives are uprooted and jobs are lost. So that artwork that said You Are Here (For Now) kept jumping out. And I think I changed the title two months before the entire book was due.

Debbie: How did you publisher feel about that?

Adam J. Kurtz: My editor agreed.

Debbie: Oh good.

Adam J. Kurtz: It was my last week before moving away from New York, and we went to Madison Square Park and had coffee, and we sat on a bench for a couple hours. And we talked about what I really wanted to accomplish with the book. And I just realized it needed to be more urgent and more real. And I needed to speak up about mental illness, about mental health, about faith. I needed to be more vulnerable if I was to reach the people I wanted to reach.

Debbie: Talk about the role that mental health has in this book. Because in reading it and in our discussion prior to the podcast, while I think that that is certainly an undercurrent and a foundation of a lot of your work, I didn’t specifically see it as a book about mental health. So talk a little bit about that.

Adam J. Kurtz: I think you’re right. It’s not a book specifically about mental health. And mental health is the undercurrent of all of my work. I would totally agree. But what I’ve maybe realized is that I hide behind subtlety and universality to avoid having a tough conversation about myself, and to avoid putting myself in the work.

Debbie: Why? You’re you’re such a charming, funny, affable, smart person.

Adam J. Kurtz: Because I didn’t believe in myself for a really long time. I can say it plainly now that I’m really doing the work to unpack it. But yeah, I hit a lot. Even as I was being vulnerable, being rewarded for my vulnerability, I felt like I was faking it a little bit. And even when I sold this book to Penguin, the pitch was very soft, and it was a gift book. And it wasn’t going to be this. And during the pandemic, I said to myself, “I don’t have time to make junk.” If I don’t make this what it needs to be, then I need to give back the advance. Because at this point in my career gratefully, I didn’t need that advance. I would’ve given it back if I didn’t have a book that I believed in.

Debbie: Do you feel that it was the pandemic that changed your thinking, or do you feel that it was something else more internal?

Adam J. Kurtz: It was definitely internal, but I think the pandemic pushed me inside. Because I spent all of 2019 traveling I went to 10 weddings and I spoke at a lot of conferences. I did a six city speaking tour in Australia. I had a great year, so fun. And I didn’t have to think about my problems at all. And you can do that for a lifetime. You can spend your whole life ignoring the call from inside the house. And then the pandemic pushed a lot of us in our homes and into the depths of our mind. And we could no longer distract ourselves from the obvious truth. The signs are always there, but sometimes I think they’re small enough to ignore. And for me, You Are Here (For Now) is this giant sign that says you can’t ignore me anymore.

Debbie: When you say you can’t ignore me anymore, who is the me?

Adam J. Kurtz: You and me are both you in that one. We as people, we often know what we need. We’re great at giving others advice, but we don’t take the advice that we give. And we often ignore that small voice in our head for years. And so many of us wait until it’s too late, or we wait until we’re at the edge of the cliff. And I think what I’m saying is run off the cliff. But if you have the time to prepare, bring a parachute.

Debbie: That’s so interesting. It’s so interesting to talk to you from that perspective, because this book really spoke to me in so many ways, but not from that sort of place of mortality. Although I guess in some ways it did, because I just kept thinking if not now, when? If not then, when? And that’s really what I’ve been grappling with as I’m about to turn 60, as I’m thinking about life changes, and what do I want for this sort of what I am imagining and hoping will be my third chapter. And one of the things that I’ve been not struggling with, I guess more just obsessed with thinking about are so many of the themes in your book. So it just came to me at this perfect moment. About what do we put off because we’re afraid to attempt to do it today?

So just the idea of thinking about time. Well, I really want to do this, but because I’m afraid to do it today, I’m going to think about doing it sometime in the future. Well you get to a point where like 60, the jig is up. You’re no longer this little young thing that can just sort of do anything whenever they want. Did that influence your thinking at all? Were you thinking about not death so much, but just what you want your life to stand for and mean?

Adam J. Kurtz: Absolutely. And I think to me, it’s so obviously about mental health. Because for me, that was the thing that I was putting off. For me, that was the if not now, when?

Debbie: So what does that mean? Was it going to therapy?

Adam J. Kurtz: It was going back to therapy. It was changing my med management. It was just being open about the fact that this wasn’t something I could push to the back of my mind, but really had to be at the forefront of what I worked on. To be a happier person, to be a better husband for my partner, to be a better friend, to make better art, to just show up in the world better. So it’s interesting to talk through. You’re one of the first people to have read this book. And it’s interesting to talk through. I know what I came to it with, but you’re right. The universality, it’s much more about listening to the signs. It’s much more about being okay with who you are at this moment and understanding that you’re on a path, and being open to possibility and change.

Debbie: Yeah. I felt like it sort of was kind of a kick in the pants, but also giving me sort of permission. And I don’t mean kick in the pants in a sort of violent way. I just mean kind of a gentle urging. A tap. A tap in the pants.

Adam J. Kurtz: When I say that this book is an urgent rallying cry, it’s still me. My version of that is jokey humor, and empathy, and it’s warm. So to me, that’s urgent. But I think someone else who hears this podcast and then reads the book, they’re going to be like, “I think that maybe that was a misnomer.”

Debbie: It’s prescient.

Adam J. Kurtz: Thank you. I’ll take it.

Debbie: That’s the word I would use. You’ve described the book as a collection of art and essays about topics that keep you up at night.

Adam J. Kurtz: Did I write that? 

Debbie: Yes.

Adam J. Kurtz: Oh, that’s great. Jesus.

Debbie: Talk about what that includes. What was keeping you up at night as you were approaching the writing, and why structured in that way?

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, it really is about not ignoring the signs anymore of who you are, who you want to be, the things that are holding you back. So fear, competition, comparison, defining success. Some of this is very much rooted to the creative type, the artist type. But then there were also things about suicidal ideation or just being uncertain about your place in the world at all. That stuff I was just thinking about so much more, especially as I left New York and then had to parse through my own actual identity instead of just wearing New York as a badge of honor. There was so much of my identity that I think I pegged to the city. And then when I left, I had to say, “Who are you?” And it required me to go within, it required me to look at my past to get more comfortable talking about faith and my origin. And then also really think about what do I want from the future? Who do I want to be? What is my purpose? What do I have to offer the world if anything? Or do I even feel like I need to offer the world something? Or can I just be a good person that takes care of my people and isn’t an asshole?

Debbie: What did you discover in the process?

Adam J. Kurtz: That I want to help people and not be an asshole. I guess I’ve been very concerned about being an asshole since day one with the sorry I’m such an asshole balloons. There’s always a sense that I need to try extra hard to be kind, because I can come off as a little too snarky. And that was probably also me hiding behind humor and sarcasm, which is kind of a common trope for young gay men anyway.

Debbie: I guess so. I mean, I don’t know that snarky is the word I would use. I would just say exceptionally witty. But again, that’s all just perspective.

Adam J. Kurtz: I feel like your perspective on me is the kindest perspective that’s ever been applied to me. And if I had half of it, I would be a happier person.

Debbie: Do you feel differently about what you’ve discovered now that you are sort of on the other side of it a little bit?

Adam J. Kurtz: I do. I think the biggest realization that I’ve had in the last year is that I actually know quite a lot about what I do in my industry. Illustration and product design, and publishing, and self-publishing, and distribution. And I’ve become very interested in mentorship and being a mentor to others. To young and emerging artists, to students, but also to peers. Even people that I look up to who now when I see their work, I’m realizing like you have all the pieces, but you’re sort of struggling with this one industry thing that I have gained experience in. Let me help you. And realizing that I’ve said that the competition model is outdated. I’ve said that we can all succeed, but now really acting on it. Not being a gatekeeper of resources at all, in acknowledgement of those who have helped me and wanting to be that for others.

Debbie: In the book’s introduction, you state the following. Sometimes people tell you that they had a dream from a young age. They didn’t take no for an answer, and they manifested the shit out of it. So now they’re the kind of person who says, “Just believe in yourself, and it feels like maybe they’re onto something. Please know that I don’t feel like that person.” As someone who seems decidedly anti self-help, what made you decide to write this kind of book right now?

Adam J. Kurtz: I’m not anti self-help. But there’s a certain type of self-help book that exists that doesn’t speak to me at all, that I can’t connect with. When someone says to me, “I’m the expert at this and I’ll teach you how to be the expert,” I don’t trust them. I don’t, because how convenient that you’re the expert and I need to buy your book? Very excellent marketing, sir. And I do mean sir. So for me, I learn through participation and conversation. And I wrote this book to be as conversational as possible to say, “Hey, this is what I struggle with. And this is what I have figured out so far.”

A lot of the book talks about not having the answers, but knowing the questions to ask. And knowing the questions is a very important step. And depending on how much you have or haven’t experienced, you may not have all the questions yet. So if I can say, “These are 10 things that I’ve struggled with,” and you think, “Well, I’ve had five of those and two of them seem like they’re on the horizon.” Maybe you’ll pay attention to those last three and see if you already know the answers before the question comes up.

Debbie: Yeah. That’s what I enjoyed so much about the book. Almost like prompts to get you to think about how this relates to your own personal life history, life experience, life challenges.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah, because it’s a book about both of us. It’s not a book from an expert who knows how to be alive.

Debbie: It’s a book from an artist that’s questioning how to be an artist.

Adam J. Kurtz: I think so. I really do. 

Debbie: Adam, I’m wondering if you could read a few excerpts from your book so we can discuss them. I’ve chosen a few because I think they’re not only things I grapple with, but I also think they’re universal, but I also did them selfishly so we can talk about them. The first one I’ve chosen is from the chapter It’s Okay Not To Know.

Adam J. Kurtz: “I spent so long wondering what my path would be like, where it starts and how I would follow it. What’s out there for me? What or who is waiting for me to find it or them. One thing that has become clearer to me as I get older is that there is a path. I simply couldn’t see it until now that it’s behind me. There’s been a path all along, and I’ve been on it with clear markers and pivotal moments that led me from place, to job, to relationship, to insight, to milestone. My path exists, but it’s not linear. And I can’t see too far ahead.”

Debbie: I was so struck by the notion that we’re on a path, but we don’t necessarily see it until it is behind us. Especially because now, I can look back at my life and say those really black years when they occurred, prepared me in so many ways for what I know now about blackness. And it’s helped me make sense of my life in ways that I never, never would have imagined happening. And one thing that I really appreciated in the book was your suggestion that not having a plan isn’t the same as not planning ahead, which you can do in a broad sense in whatever ways might be available to you. And you suggested a non-plan plan, and this is what it is.

Number one, save for the future. Two, protect your relationships. Three, pay attention. Four, form healthy habits. Five, learn new things. Six, consume art in all forms. Seven, be kind to others. And eight, be kind to yourself. It seems like you’re speaking to yourself in that one. Why those specific eight things? How did you get to those?

Adam J. Kurtz: When I really thought about the building blocks of a happy life based on anecdotal evidence, based on advice gleaned from a religious background, and from creative mentors in the world around me, I really felt like if I could achieve those eight things, then I would be armed and ready for whatever came next. So to me, the list is like a tool chest of things that would help you. And if you don’t have all the tools, you can still get a task done. But it would be very helpful if you had them all ready and waiting.

Debbie: Did you have more than eight? Did you cull it down? Are there some that are on the rejected list that didn’t make the cut?

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, I think I had seven. I think I had be kind to yourself before I had to be kind to others. And then I was like, “Well, I think we are better at being kind to others. Let me start there to remind people they have the capacity for kindness, and then end with turning it inward,” which for me is a huge struggle.

Debbie: You start the chapter, titled The Answers by stating, “There’s a part of me that has for a long time believed that everyone else knew something that I didn’t.” Why did you feel that way? And do you still feel that way?

Adam J. Kurtz: For a while, I think I really believed in the idea of enlightenment as sort of a have or have not. I’m very black and white sometimes. And I think I was like, “No, there must be something. And I’m not there yet. And I want to be there. How do I get there?” And over time, I think I’ve realized that there isn’t. And it’s so much about who you are at any given moment and any given day. Because sometimes, we wake up totally different people. So now I’m kind of taking that go with the flow approach, hang on to my eight things, be the best version of myself that I can be today and go from there.

Debbie: One thing that I’ve learned from doing this podcast now for close to 17 years is that you never really know how people are struggling and that everyone struggles. Everyone struggles. The only two people, I will say I’ve interviewed that didn’t appear to be currently struggling were [inaudible 00:39:06] and Milton Glaser. And they were both 80 plus year old white men. So I’m thinking that that might’ve had something to do with it.

Adam J. Kurtz: So I’ll stop struggling in 50 years is what you’re saying. I’m already white. So I just got to wait.

Debbie: I only have 20.

Adam J. Kurtz: Let me know what it’s like when you get there.

Debbie: This leads me to my next question, which is you state that in the book that overnight success is virtually non-existent. Why do you feel that way?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that there are people that we view as having overnight success, and that’s rarely the case. Because that assumes that there was a lack of effort, and planning, and intention, and growth. Even a teen pop star has had a childhood of wanting to be that, and practicing, and learning to dance, or honing their singing, or styling. I was really thinking a lot about Olivia Rodrigo because she had such a huge breakout moment and seemed crafted for someone who grew up on 2000s pop. And it seemed like she came out of nowhere. And as I was doing more digging, I was like well no, she’s a child actress. And there’s a huge creative team, including people who they hired who had created the original references that were on the mood board. And the more I unpacked it, the more I realized that really it takes an army of people. It takes so many creative minds and so much effort. And then I was sort of like who, wait a minute. That’s everything. That’s literally everything.

Debbie: Yes and no. I mean, I think it probably does more now than it ever has. But there are still singular talents that became legendary because of their singular talent. Somebody like a Joni Mitchell who didn’t have 45 people writing her songs, the way that somebody like Beyonce does. Bot that there’s anything wrong with that. Collaboration is a wonderful thing. But I’m more in the sort of Eddie Cantor camp. The great vaudevillian who said, “It took me 25 years to become an overnight success.”

Adam J. Kurtz: Yes. I think that’s just it, right? It’s everything that we don’t see beforehand. 

Debbie: Exactly.

Adam J. Kurtz: And you’re right. It’s not necessarily from other … it may all be from one person, but it’s still that work.

Debbie: Yeah. And fame and celebrity are very, very different things than they were 30 years ago. And I’m sure they’ll be very different in another 30 years. It’ll be interesting to see if we start to find more talent that are singular voices, that don’t have teams of managers, and brand consultants, and mood boards behind them. The next excerpt I’d love for you to read is from the chapter Being Busy Is Not A Personality.

Adam J. Kurtz: “Everyone is busy in their own way. Being busy doesn’t make you special. Being busy doesn’t make you more important. And being busy is definitely not a badge of honor. Being busy isn’t a sign that you’re more productive. Being busy doesn’t signal that you’re more valuable or more worthy. You might be busy, but being busy isn’t a single, tangible thing. And it’s definitely not an entire personality. Being busy isn’t an excuse for why you’re being an asshole right now. Being busy isn’t really an explanation for why you couldn’t text back eventually. Being busy doesn’t negate the fact that you didn’t do that one thing you were tasked with, and now everyone else has to pick up the slack.”

Debbie: I’m sensing Adam that you think being busy is a bad thing, or saying that you’re busy is a bad thing.

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that it can be. There’s a certain type of person that really weaponizes their being busy as this badge of honor, as this, “I’m a city person and I’m doing this and this. And sorry, I’ve got to run in a minute because I’m meeting this person there.” And there’s something very ’80s business boss about it that I think maybe people in my generation grew up admiring in TV and movies. But in actual practice, it’s so fucking irritating. If you couldn’t be here right now, that’s okay. Just let me know. 

Debbie: Right. I always say that busy is a decision. Busy is shorthand for not important enough. 

Adam J. Kurtz: It feels like it.

Debbie: It’s just not a priority if you’re too busy to do something, it means it’s because something else is more important. And it’s simple as that. And people that use busy as an excuse, I think the alarm bells should go off. Because what they’re really saying is that, “At this particular moment, what I’m doing now is more important than what I’m either supposed to be doing or should be doing.”

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. And that’s what the chapter goes on to talk about is if you’re busy, what can we do to mitigate that? How can we plan ahead? Can we ask for help? Can we delegate? Can we get a planner? People who are always busy, it’s not your fault. It’s just you might need some management skills, time management skills.

Debbie: Well you say that sometimes busy is shorthand for something else in the same way that tired can mean anything from physically exhausted to extremely depressed. What do you think that busy can be shorthand for?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think busy can just be, “Hey, I’m overwhelmed right now.” I think busy can be, “You could handle this workload, but I kind of can’t because I’m short-circuiting, because I’m sick, because I’m cash strapped.” Maybe I can’t hop in an Uber because I need to take the train for budget reasons. It’s like, there’s so many reasons why someone can be busy. So when I say it’s not a personality, that’s not me saying, “How dare you ever be busy?” I’m really just speaking to the people that love their busy-ness and relish in it, and make it everyone else’s problem.

Debbie: For our listeners that might be using busy as an excuse to not do something, what suggestions do you have for getting out of that cycle?

Adam J. Kurtz: Just be transparent. Instead of saying, “I’m busy,” you could say, “I’m behind on a project. And I really would benefit from spending the day working.” Or, “I’m sorry, I double booked and I need to prioritize this other thing because it’s for work or family.” Or, “It’s an opportunity that has an end date in sight. And can we reschedule because we’re more flexible?” I just think transparency and understanding.

And trust that your friends get it. If you’re my friend, I’m not mad that you skipped lunch because you had to go to the doctor’s office. Why would I be mad about that? I’d rather see you when you’re not worried about having to go to the doctor right after.

Debbie: Let’s talk about social media.

Adam J. Kurtz: We have to. I hate that we have to, but I think we do.

Debbie: Yeah. Let’s talk about social media. I’m going to read this next quote, because that’s how much I love it. You write, “Social media in particular shapes reality into something that feels competitive. Because not only do we work to present the most idealized version of ourselves or at least a specific version. We then opt in to real time judgment. A system of likes and comments that purports to conform or deny our contents’ inherit worth in a way that we all understand is negative and even harmful. But also, doesn’t stop up us from paying attention. Could almost feel useful to keep tabs on others, drawing comparisons or any other false correlation. We may seek out in order to inspect ourselves. Maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I definitely notice. To adopt the language of the internet, I know when a post is a flop, and it’s hard not to feel it. A piece of my life that I prepared for consumption has flopped. Therefore, I am a flop. Nobody stands a flop.”

Adam J. Kurtz: Nobody stands a flop. Some people are in their flop era, and we don’t currently stan, and we may stan again. I had to explain that one to my editor. I was like,, “Sometimes you just don’t have it.”

Debbie: Now in terms of describing it or defining it to your editor, the word flop, or the word stans, or both?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think stan in relation to flop the way that pop music fans, it seems like on gay Twitter specifically have really latched onto those words.

Debbie: Now for our listeners that might be in your editor’s camp and didn’t quite understand what the word, define them for us.

Adam J. Kurtz: So a stan is really just a hardcore fan, a super fan. And a flop is what it sounds like. It’s underwhelming, or it misses the mark. So it’s hard to rally your super fans behind something that’s just not good. So if I post art and it seems like even the fans don’t like it, it must have been really shitty. And then I start to feel like maybe I’m really shitty.

Debbie: I mean, you have a huge social media following. You are extremely prolific. You create wonderfully creative posts. Talk about how you feel if you’re not getting the response that you want. And what are the responses that you hope for? What are the things that you look for?

Adam J. Kurtz: You know, it’s so arbitrary. And the more we learn about the way that the social platforms create algorithms designed to focus on things they already believe will get engagement, really takes a lot of the pressure off. Even in the time since I wrote this book, which was not even a full year ago, we’ve learned more about some of these algorithms and the way that the platforms really seem to champion outrage, click bait, fake news. Things designed to elicit a response. So it can be frustrating to just post a nice art and feel like if it doesn’t get enough engagement in the first 10 minutes, then the platform itself will decide not to share it with anyone else. And that’s just frustrating, because why else may art if not to share it?

Debbie: Amanda Palmer has written a lot about this, how really important posts where she’s talking about something that she would deem important don’t get as much traction as happy pictures of her son, for example. And that can be troubling because you do want your message to read if it’s important to you. I’m wondering how you feel about that, if you found that experience to be true.

Adam J. Kurtz: I think my perspective now is that we really need to rely less on these platforms. It used to be that it was like a subscription and people would subscribe to your updates and then get them. And what social media has become is more of a mixed bag trickle. And so that cannot be your only way of connecting. Also, what I realize is that social media feels really personal, but is actually probably the least personal method of communication I have.

Debbie: Yeah. It’s anti-social media. 

Adam J. Kurtz: It feels like it. So for me, I decided let me put the more personal stuff in a book that has a double opt-in, right? You have to order the book, and then you have to open the book. And at that point, welcome to my home. Let’s have a conversation. Sit on the couch, let’s get into it. 

Debbie: How do you recommend that people avoid the human nature comparisons when looking at Facebook or Instagram? Years and years ago, I was going through a depression, and I remember meeting somebody on the street. And she asked me how I was and I started crying. And she was shocked because she said it seemed like I was fine from Facebook. I’m like, “Everybody’s fine on Facebook.” It’s hard to know how much to share that’s sort of deeply real, because then people get all freaked out that you might be in a bad place. So how do you recommend that people sort of calibrate in sharing and comparing?

Adam J. Kurtz: I think when it comes to sharing, it is a gut check. It is a is this helpful? Is this useful? Is this interesting? Does this make me feel good right now, but hurt me in the long run? I think you might know this, I’m a serial tweet deleter. I will tweet something and delete it within minutes because-

Debbie: I didn’t know that.

Adam J. Kurtz: Especially late night Twitter, I’ll say something that is maybe very true, but kind of inflammatory. I would love to share something on the podcast that will for sure get me in trouble. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and I’ve been seeing social media influencers doing sponsored content for brands that are cashing in on mental health. And I tweeted, “If I don’t get a Mental Health Awareness Week sponsorship, I will literally kill myself.”

Debbie: Oh dear. 

Adam J. Kurtz: And I of course deleted that with two minutes, because we can’t actually say that. But what I meant was can mental health awareness sponsorship branded products get a little bit more real? Because no amount of candles is going to replace Lexapro.

Debbie: Well, it comes back to the question about brands affiliating themselves with any kind of social movement, whether it be mental health week, or Pride, or Black Lives Matter. I still find it really frustrating every June when everybody’s suddenly rainbow washing. Where were they 10 years ago? Now that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have changed their stance and are now more welcoming and more inclusive. But unless you’ve done the work within the organization to address these changes person by person, having a rainbow as part of your logo isn’t really going to impress me.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. I feel like there are so many people who get that wrong. So many brands I should say that get it wrong. So when a brand gets it right, it feels incredible. And I would love to shout out the brand Aesop, the skincare brand. For Pride, they took three of their stores in New York … I didn’t work with them. I’m not affiliated with them. New York, LA, and Toronto. Cleared out all the products, and turned them into free bookstores that stocked books by LGBTQ authors. And you could just go and get a book. You didn’t have to buy anything. There wasn’t anything to buy. Just beautiful, well designed bookstores. And that was so, so cool.

Debbie: I think that’s a wonderful example. When anybody is thinking about latching on to some type of movement, my question to them would be why are we doing this? Are we doing this for the people that we are trying to affiliate with? Or are we trying to sell more product? And if it’s to sell more product, I really recommend that you back away.

Adam J. Kurtz: Yeah. Can I share a negative example? 

Debbie: Yeah, absolutely.

Adam J. Kurtz: There was an example in 2020 in the explosion of a Black Lives Matter protests where the artist Shantell Martin shared an email she received from an agency representing a major brand and essentially reducing her to a Black woman, and asking her to throw up a mural on their store in support of Black lives. And it was so in such poor taste. And Shantell is so brave that she shared it, knowing that she could potentially lose a lot of future work. Knowing that she was burning a bridge with an agency and a company. But she shared it, and she brought awareness to the fact that this happens. It happens often, and that it’s fucking disgusting.

Debbie: Yeah. I did read about it. The New York Times covered it, and I was really glad that she did it. I hope she hasn’t gotten less work because of it. I would hope she’d get more. 

Adam J. Kurtz: I will say I know Shantell personally. And for everything she does in the public sphere, she’s doing so much behind the scenes. She’s really I believe looking out for a lot of people and has been a wonderful mentor to me. Offered great advice. And she’s queer. So you know. 

Debbie: Absolutely. She’s been on the show. We love her. In your book, you recount this story of going to the internet and ordering 720 printed pencils. And one of the things I love so much about the book is the personal anecdotes that you include. Can you share the story today and talk about why you believe a pencil is a great equalizer?

Adam J. Kurtz: I was sort of in the midst of a very tumultuous time of mental health and a lot of different outside conflicts. And I took a phrase that could have been a tweet, and I ordered 744 pencils instead. And the pencils say, “I am a tool or a weapon, and completely free, which is literally terrifying.” And that was me finding my power and then suddenly becoming very afraid that now that I have power, I might die before I got to use it. And it was this awareness of my innate potential and the potential that we all have. And then a sudden fear of protecting that value. And what I love about pencils so much is that they are so ubiquitous, and we all have some. I’m sure people have a pencil with you right now or nearby. If you don’t, you can get one at the gas station when you’re buying your lotteries scratch offs, or you can go to Ikea, they got free ones there. And you can do anything with a pencil. And all the artwork in this book is either folded paper or handwritten pencil.

Debbie: Talk about the folded paper art, because it really is an absolute perfect partnering to your words. How did you come up with the idea? Did you make all of that art yourself with actual paper? Did you photograph it? How did you do it?

Adam J. Kurtz: So the idea for the paper came actually a few years ago. I’m a big fidgeter, and I am always rolling and folding little scraps of paper to sort of stay calm. I mean, the listeners don’t know that I’ve been playing with a fidget ring this whole time just to stay on track. And I thought what if I could make art from this physical manifestation of my anxiety? And I started folding and tearing these little paper kind of collages, and I hung them up in the studio. And as I was working on this book, and developing the concept of the book, and realizing that it was a book not so much about how to be a person, but the process of figuring out how to be a person, I became obsessed with the idea that the artwork would be paper sheets transforming sequentially, like origami step by step. So the artwork starts with a plain sheet of blue paper. And that’s us, right? We all start as a blank slate. And as life bends us, and folds us, or tears us, or punctures us, we transform into who we’re meant to be. So these transformation sequences or flows in the book, the result is always some different artwork, or shape, or form. Often with a phrase, a reminder, or a pun attached.

Debbie: One question you ask in the book that I personally relate to and struggle with is this. What happens when you get what you want, and then you want something else? And I truly am a victim of metabolizing any goal or achievement soon as I reach something that I’ve strived for. I want something else. And I recognize that that’s part of my cycle of self-loathing, that I only feel good when I’m being productive. And you talk about that as well. The sort of notion of productivity being something that helps us stave off the depression, stave off those dark moments. Talk a little bit about how to better be in touch with what it is that we want. And then once we achieve that, deciding we want something else, or deciding we don’t want it anymore.

Adam J. Kurtz: I think that it is often a you know when you get there kind of thing, which isn’t helpful, right? I don’t have expert advice for you so much as just being aware of the fact that you can get something and then change your mind. That might help someone who is obsessing over a goal that is maybe not just out of reach, but pretty far out of reach. Someone who has been going after a goal for quite a while. And maybe the circumstances have changed so much that even if they were to achieve that goal, it would no longer satisfy them. So I’m almost saying, “Hey, you might be in a scenario where you could save yourself the heartache by doing that bigger picture thinking now.” For me though, that phrase was inspired by January 1st, 2018. When I woke up, my last book had come out, I got married. And I was like, “Well, now what? All my life, I just wanted to find my true love. And all my life, I just wanted to make something of what I was doing.” And I actually felt like I had done it all. And then I didn’t know what to do. And that was a really hard winter for me, as I really had to sort of identify where do I go from here?

Debbie: Well, it’s so interesting because one of the questions that you pose in the book, and one I ask myself over and over, if you could strip away all of your distractions and obligations, who would you be left with? So who were you left with when you were cognizant of having gotten everything that you wanted?

Adam J. Kurtz: In that moment, I think I was left with my truest, most honest self. Which is a sort of depressive, nerdy, gay Jew. And I was like, “Wait a minute. That’s who I am. I can’t hide it.” And also, I think it’s a super power. And at that moment, I started to really lean into being earnest. I finally stripped away the last dregs of wanting to be cool. And I realized that I could lower some barriers because they weren’t as high as I thought they were. And once I embraced that fully, it really helped shift the direction of my work. Where I became more vulnerable, more honest, made work that I think is more functional, more useful. And this book would not have happened if not for that shift in thinking three years ago.

Debbie: Isn’t that interesting how the very things that we feel contain us, that once we’re able to push through them are things that help us become who we are? I had so much shame about so much of who I was. And when I finally just acknowledged it, the shame kind of disappeared. Is that how you feel?

Adam J. Kurtz: I do feel that way. And I’m so glad that you feel that way. Because after the last time I was on the podcast, I remember sitting in your office and having a more personal conversation, and realizing that we actually had quite a lot in common and I had no idea. And when I knew that, I felt so empowered. Because here was someone who I viewed as successful, and highly intelligent, and powerful. And she and I had these points of commonality. So maybe I was okay too. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to say, but when you were more publicly coming out, when you started dating Roxanne and sharing that love in public on the internet, it was so exciting to me. Because I was with everyone else on the sidelines just cheering at the ultimate power couple being so lovey dovey in love and just feeling like love is real. And love is real at any time for anyone. And you can always choose that. What an inspiration.

Something that I think about often is the way that we can be role models, whether we realize it or not. And you don’t need to be famous, or successful, or powerful to be a role model. And as a young queer person, I can remember seeing two men hold hands on the street. And a small part of my brain knowing that I was probably gay and knowing, “That’s okay, there’s a future for me.” So I would compel everyone listening to this, regardless of who you are or what particular identity you might represent in your industry, or community, or space, be yourself. Be yourself as loud as you want to, because we don’t know who’s paying attention, and we don’t know who we’re helping.

Debbie: And chances are if you are afraid to be who you are, you are preventing yourself from being able to do your best work.

Adam J. Kurtz: Oh yeah. 

Debbie: And that’s one of the gifts that I think you give people in this book. This sort of sense of no matter who you are, you don’t have to be ashamed, and you can celebrate that. And you show people the ways in which you’ve done that and which they can do it too. 

Adam J. Kurtz: I mean, that’s it. It’s You Are Here (For Now). So tick tock bitch, you don’t get A, another life. It’s time to live your life for real.

Debbie: Adam, thank you for making such heartfelt, helpful, and beautiful work. And thank you for joining me today on Design Matters once again.

Adam J. Kurtz: Thanks for having me.

Debbie: Adam J. Kurtz’s brand new book is titled You Are Here (For Now): A Guide to Finding Your Way. To find out more about Adam J. Kurtz and all of his other work, go to This is the 17th year we’ve been podcasting Design Matters, and I’d like to thank you for listening. And remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both. I’m Debbie Millman, and I look forward to talking with you again soon.