Usually, with graduation season at hand, I write a “proposed” commencement speech (that I would give if any university, college or grammar school asked me to do so). This year it’s early because graduating design students have a lot they can do while they wait for the world to open its doors to their talents. It’s also short because the last thing a student needs is a long plodding discourse. (Illustration courtesy Klaas Verplancke

 

To Design Students Everywhere:

You may not discover the cure for COVID-19 but you can create an antidote on your laptop.

Work is an antidote to isolation and anxiety. Work will help yourself and others be calm. Conceive, develop, prototype and fabricate whatever you can to best cope with the mornings, days and nights—those key moments of anxiety and loneliness that plague us all.

This is a call to MAKE stuff and MAKE stuff happen.

You are full of ideas, but even more important, you’ve got the talent, skill and tools to bring ideas to life and then go viral with them. Fight the virus with the viral dissemination of your output.

Create online events. Make online statements (posters, gifs, animations, memes, hashtags—let whatever is inside you out) that will enlighten and inspire, entertain, educate and wow our senses. 

Don’t lose your sense of humor. Create stuff that is memorable, interactive, playful and joyful. Don’t let yourselves feel helpless. Keep thinking. Keep working! Don’t give in to self-pity (at least not all day). Don’t let the enemy win. Your immune system is based, to a great extent, on keeping your creativity alive.

This is possibly the most challenging time of your lives. Defeat COVID’s power to destroy. Rally us together as colleagues and friends. Show the governor and mayor that designers (and especially design entrepreneurs) are “essential workers”!

 

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