Q&A with Von Glitschka

This Q&A is part of “Defining the Studio of 2015,” an initiative by AIGA and Adobe that seeks the insights of visionary design thought leaders who are poised for the future. In this series, these leaders share an inside look at their plans, predictions and aspirations for the studio of 2015 and beyond.

Tell us a little bit about your studio and your role.

I started Glitschka Studios in 2002. I’m a one-man studio that works for larger ad agencies and design studios in the capacity of a hired creative gun. That said, I have my own client accounts as well.

What major competencies will be required of the studio of 2015?

A smart studio must understand their limitations as much as they do their strengths. My professional role as a creative is aligning with other designers who realize their creative limitations and allow me to fill that niche which, when all is said and done, makes them far more valuable, creatively speaking, to their clients than trying to leverage everything under one roof.

I don’t just fulfill this need, however. I utilize the same methodology when I land a client beyond my scope of expertise. I’ll partner up with other smaller firms or independent creatives and we’ll approach a project together in order to deliver the best work we can. Too many in our industry have a “design-o-saur” mentality and think they need everything to be in-house. This limits their effectiveness and, more often than not, caters to marginal work in the long run.

What role might collaboration play within studios in the near future?

Not all studios have a budget to fully staff their firm with enough talent to cover any type of client need. This would be a silly way to run a firm. Even larger ad agencies like Landor, LPK and others don’t do this, and they have millions to work with. These large ad agencies collaborate with creatives like myself to stay relevant in their approach.

Collaboration expands a studio’s potential. The more contacts a studio has with skilled professionals who specialize in specific areas, the more creative potential they’ll have to work with. This makes their range of deliverables far greater and more effective. Collaboration is also a great way to keep creative thinking fresh and avoid the pitfalls of agency routine.

Who will a studio need to hire? What will a team look like in 2015 and beyond?

Budget your project with collaborative in mind. It’s easier to augment your own projects with additional insights and capabilities that will help you be more productive and successful. Encourage your staff to pursue creative outlets outside of work for no other reason than to be creative. This facilitates unique thinking and makes for a more skilled studio overall.

What changes do you anticipate a studio might need to make to its physical space?

Be real, avoid sterile. Unique touches of humanity in the studio context always draw me in and make the space resonate on a personal level. Nothing kills a creative work culture more than some suit making a dumb-a** mandate of what you can hang on your cubicle wall. So lighten up, because creativity needs fertile ground to be inspired—and stark corporate rules tend to truncate creative thought.

What should studios do to prepare themselves for issues surrounding sustainability and an increasingly global context?

A politician once said all politics are local. I think that applies to design as well. It’s easier to start local and make a difference any way you can and then move outward as opportunities and relationships permit. It’s easy to have a grand idea but it’s harder to implement it if you have no track record, so test your ideas in a smaller context first.

I think true sustainability first starts with changing minds. I was motivated by my friend Justin Ahrens of Rule29 to do this, and I now donate at least one project a year to a nonprofit and volunteer my time for good causes. Life is far more important than mere design, so if I can accomplish both, it’s all good.

What are the three biggest challenges that design studios will face in 2015? What steps should studios take now to prepare?

More studios need to understand how their work must live in a mobile environment. Moving forward, an identity will be just as much associated with a touch-screen experience as it is with the visual logo itself. (Dear God, please no animated logos like Flash spawned back in the day!) This makes continuity of visual identity more challenging and also demands new capabilities.

What excites you about the prospect of running a design studio in 2015?

Being able to work with my daughter, Savannah, in my studio. She grew up sitting next to me, watching me work, and she is now in her second year of a three-year visual communication program and is doing incredibly well. I’ve already hired her to help me on a few projects this past year, and in my opinion she’s far smarter than I was at her age. I look forward to mentoring her and seeing her design abilities grow and flourish.