The Secrets Behind Successful Design Podcasts

In a time when designers are often too busy to network and seek further education, podcasts have become available to teach so we can learn while we go about our business. I recently “met” Kitty Florido on Twitter when I asked for graphic design podcast recommendations. Florido is a graphic designer who owns Asterisco, a design and photography business in Guatemala.

Kitty Florido

Florido and I chatted about the rise of podcasts this decade and what role they’ve played in her training, education and sometimes just entertainment. Florido had posted a page on her blog called “Podcasts I Listen To,” and it’s exactly that: a page started for her friends who were always coming to her for podcast recommendations, and now Florido goes through it every four or five months to keep it current.

After listening to hundreds of podcasts throughout the years – and learning what she liked and didn’t like about certain ones – it was only a matter of time before Florido took on a podcast, “Rookie Designer.”

Why did you start listening to podcasts?

I started a lot of years ago – I’ve been listening to podcasts since they were first available. I had to drive to my business every day for an hour. First, I was bringing my iPod in the car because I hate listening to commercials.

It was hard to find them with good content. There were some business and some design, but there were very few. Then I started listening to a friend of mine, Tim Coyne, who does “The Hollywood Podcast,” which is interviews with stars – nothing designer related or anything.

What made it easier was the iTunes store’s guide. There I found “Rookie Designer.” I found some other podcasts – some of which are already dead. One of the things it allowed me was to stay current and be a part of something else. My office is a one-woman business, so I’m not exposed to other co-workers’ ideas.

Where and when do you listen to podcasts?

Now that I’m working from home, sometimes I have to be in the mood. I try early in the morning, like right when I can cram more information in. If I’m listening to marketing-heavy podcasts, I don’t want to listen to that at 5 in the afternoon. If I listen to one about cooking, I don’t need that much attention to follow that train of thought. I do have specific times when I listen to specific podcasts.

Design is so visual – what are the challenges in coming up with engaging podcasts?

I think that it’s really hard for a podcaster to get the idea through – not because a picture is a thousand words but because you have to describe a lot of things. It’s a different approach as a graphic designer and photographer.

Sometimes I’m just looking for a train of thought instead of listening to my iTunes collection. It keeps your mind busy. If I’m listening to a very interesting conversation, I listen to the entire conversation. When I started listening to podcasts, I had to drive an hour to and from work, so it was my little time in the car to connect to the rest of the design world.

What do you look for in a podcast?

If I was listening to a podcast with a monotone, that would bore me. There are some hosts that can be very much like that – or in your face. They’re just kind of rude. That pushes me away. I need someone maybe not completely likeable but just with manners – a sense of humor. The topics need to be interesting and have a train of thought.

The first episode we made recently of “Rookie Designer,” I found it’s hard for me to talk as a podcaster. If it’s two hosts – like “Rookie Designer” is – they go back and forth, but if it’s one person going, “Uh-huh,” that’s not very interesting.

I really like Chris Marquardt’s “Tips From the Top Floor.” He’s a German guy who knows a lot about photography. I went to his food-photography workshop, and it was amazing. It was amazing to see him since I’m used to listening to him! It was one of the first podcasts out. It has intro music that sets the mood – it has music that someone wrote for him! Some podcasts just start without an intro – they just start talking.

How did you become a part of “Rookie Designer”?

“Rookie Designer” was started in ’06. A little more than a month ago, Adam Hay contacted Jake Van Ness, owner of Prepressology, and myself. It’d been silent for a year, and we just released our first.

What have you gotten out of podcasts and other newer technology?

The podcast world has definitely been keeping me up to date. That’s how I learned in 2007 about an InDesign conference in Florida. It’s just a short flight from me and was the first of its kind. I went and met people and realized there’s a whole different world out there of people who like the same things. Since I’m working by myself, I find it’s hard to find friends who do the same thing. I have a few other friends here in Guatemala who were not keeping up with the trends. Before podcasts you had to look for forums to get advice, but technology has made things so much different, like with Twitter. I used it in 2007, and it was extremely new, and no one knew what it was. It has helped the distance and to share knowledge and to express frustration.

Technology has opened a lot of doors for me. There’s a program called design4kids, and I’ve been working with them – I bumped into them through Twitter. Every time they do workshops, I’m in the U.S. instead of Guatemala, but one time I did an online review of the students’ work. And through Twitter I was able to gather designers to help.

What is the future of “Rookie Designer”?

We want to do it twice a month. … We want to do a good, solid episode – we’re really glad with the feedback so far. We want to talk not just about design but also photography and tech geek stuff. At the same time we want to approach subjects and ideas that many designers – rookie or not – face each day. For example, what about client issues, the business side of things? At first we’re going to see how every two weeks works – we’ll see. The important thing is to be consistent.

I’m a Mac user, and Jake is a PC user, so we go back and forth with applications that might not do the same thing but produce the same results.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

The Freelance Radio Show” for graphic artists and writers.
36 Point” for design.
Managing the Gray
Six Pixels of Separation
Tips From the Top Floor
Enough – The Minimal Mac Podcast.” They talk about minimalism. They have no intro – they just start talking about things like: How many apps do you download, and how many don’t do a thing on your Mac?

Jennifer Moline is a writer for PsPrint and the PsPrint Design Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company.

 

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