Seth Rexilius Design

Founder + Creative Director of WonderWild & Here Below.

10 Things Every Designer Should Know

  1. Design is a means, not an end. 
    As designers, we are hired not to continually amaze people with our self-expression, but to deftly exercise our craft in a way that solves business problems and ultimately increases value. We create order, consistency, and beauty for the purpose of communication. This requires listening and adapting in order to strategically execute the brand’s objective, not our own.  

  2. Balance intake vs. output.
    One of the major benefits of being a designer in this age is the wealth of inspiration we have at our fingertips. Places like Behance, Dribbble, From Up North, FWA, Awwwards, etc. all showcase some of the best design work in the world — updated and refreshed by the minute. But if we spend a disproportionate amount of time intaking others’ work, we aren’t really learning and growing. That happens by doing; trying new things, techniques, styles, and processes. Look at what the best in the world are doing; then go create, work hard, and strive to get there. 

  3. Master your craft. 
    This seems obvious, but whatever hopes, ambitions, and big hairy audacious dreams you may have for your career will always stay floating out there in the future if you don’t roll your sleeves up and hone your skill every day. Growth is never-ending, software is ever-evolving, and client needs are always shifting. Find one thing, and strive to do it better than anyone else in the world. If you’re going to sell the sizzle, you better bring the steak.

  4. Question convention. 
    Convention is usually in place because it worked for someone, or perhaps a group of people, for a time. It feels safe and predictable. But if you’re not careful, it’s exactly what will cause you to end up looking and feeling and talking like everyone else. At times, embrace it. But there must be times where you question it, challenge the status quo, and take a creative risk by trying something new. It’s the only path to innovation.

  5. Know the why, not just the what.
    As designers, we can master the deliverables pretty quickly. Output can be memorized. But what makes something truly distinct in the marketplace is the story behind the product. To emotionally engage people — and if you want to influence them you must reach them on an emotional level — craft a story to bring your Why to life. People don’t just buy products. They buy what the product makes them feel. Why adds girth to your What

  6. Habits trump inspiration. 
    This is related to #2, but it’s important to focus on the process of doing, not just the polished end product. People can say they want to be anything, but if they don’t enjoy and embrace the process of becoming that thing, they’ll never be it. Inspiration is fleeting — it ebbs and flows depending on your mood. But if you go to work and get things done, despite your mood or how inspired you may feel, over time that’s what wins the day.

  7. Focus and specialize, but respect peripheral skills. 
    Focus is the antidote to mediocrity. If you want to be great at something, it requires all the focus you can give it. This means saying no to a lot of things so you can say yes to a few. It means choosing your corner and pouring everything you have into dominating it. But it’s important to see it within the big picture of the business workplace. Know the context in which your skills thrive, which other skills they overlap, and how all the pieces are connected and working together. If you’re a designer, you don’t have to know how to code. But you have to know what code can and can’t do, as well as how to talk with developers. Understanding the various roles in the process gives you a stronger foundation for your superpower.

  8. Swing for the fence. Every time. 
    As creative-type people, we all naturally have an idea in our heads of the perfect project. We think about how if the stars aligned, with the right client and audience and budget, we could create the greatest design the world has ever known. But it’s actually our job to take that approach with every single project. Whatever you’re working on is the most important project. Because for someone it is. 

  9. Embrace constraints.
    "Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem — the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible — his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints. Constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time and so forth." – Charles Eames

    If you’re following the rules of this post, every project will have inherent constraints. Success hinges on our ability to create within them. 

  10. We’re in this together.
    I am continually amazed at the warmth, openness, and friendliness of the design community. I think we all realize that what we do, day in and day out, is difficult and nuanced. Sometimes our work takes a beating, and even though we know it’s not personal, at times it can feel like it. Plus, there’s not one way to design that’s right for everyone. We each have our own eye, process, stylistic preferences, skill level, client base, etc. that sharing what we know with each behooves both parties. We’re on the same team. 

I'll leave you with a final thought: Being a designer is a blessing. We get to play with color, shapes, type, and imagery to create things for people, and they pay us! That’s pretty incredible. So don’t lose sight of it, enjoy the hustle, and grow patiently. Hopefully, these 10 things help you on your journey.

 

This post was originally published on The Layout

  

Why Runs Deep

I supposed I should start off by way of introduction. My name is Seth Rexilius, and I am many things to many people: husband, father of four, lover of sports, believer in Jesus, crossword puzzler, and world-class coffee consumer.

Thinking about why I do what I do invariably leads to introspectively sifting through a handful of things. Who am I, today? It might be different than who I was 3 years ago. What have I been equipped and gifted to do? What have my experiences in this life taught me, and how have they molded and sharpened and chiseled me into the person I am today? What kind of decisions, and their consequences, have lead me to this point in time? The story is complex. I am an amalgamation of innumerable events, people, choices and providence.

But at the same time, it’s actually quite simple. I did not choose to set my feet upon this beautiful earth in Lincoln, Neb., back in 1982. But I did choose to pursue some things in life; like football and art and family. Thankfully, the latter two worked out for me. The ability for humans to recreate the beauty they see around them with simple forms has always amazed me.

I am a designer at heart because I’ve been created with a desire for order, yet newness. I like pattern and rhythm, but seek change constantly. I like to make things predictable, then crave disruption. I never trust the status quo. I rebel against normal. (Confession: Doubtful I’m as cool as that might make me sound)

More specifically, I feel alive using colors and type and images to create. The power of these simple elements, and the infinite ways in which they can be combined, astounds me. You can make people feel something deep inside themselves by crafting and arranging and executing materials in thoughtful ways. In a very real sense, I am afforded the opportunity, on a weekly basis, to imitate my Creator. This is a blessing, because it heightens my awareness of the beauty, thoughtfulness, order, newness and sheer magnitude of existence. This is profoundly healthy and humbling.

Of course, at a fundamental level I do this because it provides for my family. It provides interesting challenges, and I get to meet and collaborate with smart, interesting people. I get to solve business problems with design. I get to listen to music and play in Adobe Creative every day. I get to work from home and be present with my family. And all I need to work with anyone in the world is a computer and internet (and coffee, who am I kidding). That’s pretty incredible. I try not to take these simple things for granted.

Underneath all this, I do what I do because it provides purpose to my life. My roles in life—designer, husband, father, friend, etc.—influence each other. Being a designer is a very significant, real part of who I am, but it’s not my ultimate identity. Most days, I’m proud of and thankful for my work because the process of creating fashions me, teaches me about myself, helps me understand others and the world we live in, and ultimately points me to a higher purpose.

Living my story well.

 

This post was originally written for and published by my good friends at Eden Creative

Welcome to my new website.

Hey everybody, I have a new website! You probably realized that already. Why? I'm glad you asked. 

Throughout the past couple years I've been doing more and more freelance work. This is something I very much enjoy, thrive on, grow from and continue to seek out. In fact, I'm nearing the point of making the leap into full-time freelance world. A little scary, yes. But even more invigorating. As a result, a new, more professional website was in order. Now I hope you'll join me on this journey in some way. 

In an attempt to be authentic and transparent, here are a few things about me you may not know:

  1. I consider my primary duty in life to be a husband and father. Then designer. 
  2. I've been married for 9 years now, and we have four children. Soon to be five, as we're in the midst of an international adoption. 
  3. I played football at the University of Nebraska, and got to be a part of the 2001 National Championship at the Rose Bowl. 
  4. I am the worst snow skier you will ever meet. 
  5. I drink almost a pot of coffee every day, with very few exceptions. 
  6. I love the Lord, and am thankful for the abundance of mercy he has shown me in drawing me to Himself through Jesus Christ. 
  7. I have four tattoos, the newest being an olive tree illustration on my right forearm. 
  8. I have wanderlust. 
  9. I try not to take living in the USA for granted. Also, I decided I'm going to take up camping. These two things seem related somehow. 
  10. I really was the 5th grade badminton champion. After a finals match for the ages, I promptly retired. So I guess you could say I'm like the Bobby Fischer of the elementary badminton circuit.

Want to know something else? Just ask!