We caught with Adam Weiss of San Fran based studio Landscape. Adam talks us through how he got his start in design, what he looks for in a great portfolio and his career highlights thus far. Plus he gave us a rad poster. Thanks Adam!
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
I grew up snowboarding, mountain biking, skateboarding, collecting comics and obsessing over sneakers. I never knew that design was a viable career but would spend the majority of my time doing art related projects, shooting photos or in the outdoors. When it came time to go to college – I mistakenly applied to engineering schools (thinking it was industrial design). Art and design has always played a big role in my life – but I had zero understanding of the formal discipline until about a year into college (Washington University in St. Louis). That said, I feel fortunate to have had a liberal arts education to compliment my design education.
What’s your take on internships?
We have had great success with internships (and have had wonderful interns). I had a formative internship during school in New York and I would recommend that new designers take advantage of the chance to live in a new city and learn from alternate teams. Some of our interns have become full time employees and some just stay for three months. Regardless, they all get super hands on experience and can help the studio layer extra design time into projects. They are also enablers for studio initiated projects that might not come to fruition otherwise. Our interns get as much responsibility as they are capable of handling and often leave with pretty wild projects in their portfolios.
What do you look for in a great portfolio?
We look for great people first and foremost. Our studio is intimate and people need to be able work with the team as much as act as autonomous practitioners. Second, attention to detail – every project we deliver is of equal ￼￼￼￼￼￼importance so a designers ability to see a project through to the end at the highest fidelity is pivotal. Strong formal understanding, particularly of typography. Ability to write. Conceptual thinking. Motion, digital fluency and other crossdiscipline skills are critical to the studio and the clients we take on.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
Building the studio and an amazing team. Kids who ride Boost (a project of ours for MercedesBenz) sending cards to the drivers with their renditions of the Boost logo drawn on them. Hearing our employees tell prospective team members that they work at Landscape because they believe they will do the best work of their careers here. Our current intern from Sweden (Linda) telling us that our notebooks will help her friend get over her heartbreak from a recent breakup. Working with a few socially responsible companies that truly impact the lives of their users for the better.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Do work you really believe is great and interact with the world.
2. Nobody will come along and make it happen for you or give you a secret recipe for success. I read a related quote on twitter recently, “Don’t worry about what other people are doing – ask yourself if what you are doing is working” (source unknown).
3. Surround yourself with interesting people – designers or otherwise. There was an agency in SF that used to have a role called “Head of Cultural Insights” which is a funny title but so essential to understanding how your work fits into the context of the world.
4. Read as much as possible. “15 minutes a day adds up.” A quote from my friend Matt Moore when we were working together at Burton snowboards and he was starting his own studio. It all adds up.
5. Some great advice from Sister Corita Kent (amazing designer / artist), “Consider everything an experiment”. ￼