Give It Five Minutes

This is a re-post of an article published here in 2012 by software designer Jason Fried. Its message is pertinent within the discipline of design, as ours is a discipline which requires thought and opinion in equal measure. ‘Giving it five minutes’ is something we can all add to our everyday practice.



A few years ago I used to be a hothead. Whenever anyone said anything, I’d think of a way to disagree. I’d push back hard if something didn’t fit my world-view.

It’s like I had to be first with an opinion – as if being first meant something. But what it really meant was that I wasn’t thinking hard enough about the problem. The faster you react, the less you think. Not always, but often.

It’s easy to talk about knee jerk reactions as if they are things that only other people have. You have them too. If your neighbor isn’t immune, neither are you.

This came to a head back in 2007. I was speaking at the Business Innovation Factory conference in Providence, RI. So was Richard Saul Wurman. After my talk Richard came up to introduce himself and compliment my talk. That was very generous of him. He certainly didn’t have to do that.

And what did I do? I pushed back at him about the talk he gave. While he was making his points on stage, I was taking an inventory of the things I didn’t agree with. And when presented with an opportunity to speak with him, I quickly pushed back at some of his ideas. I must have seemed like such an asshole.

His response changed my life. It was a simple thing. He said “Man, give it five minutes.” I asked him what he meant by that? He said, it’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to push back, it’s great to have strong opinions and beliefs, but give my ideas some time to set in before you’re sure you want to argue against them. “Five minutes” represented “think”, not react. He was totally right. I came into the discussion looking to prove something, not learn something.

This was a big moment for me.

Richard has spent his career thinking about these problems. He’s given it 30 years. And I gave it just a few minutes. Now, certainly he can be wrong and I could be right, but it’s better to think deeply about something first before being so certain you’re right.

There’s also a difference between asking questions and pushing back. Pushing back means you already think you know. Asking questions means you want to know. Ask more questions.

Learning to think first rather than react quick is a life long pursuit. It’s tough. I still get hot sometimes when I shouldn’t. But I’m really enjoying all the benefits of getting better.

If you aren’t sure why this is important, think about this quote from Jonathan Ive regarding Steve Jobs’ reverence for ideas:

“And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. You see, I think he better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.”

That’s deep. Ideas are fragile. They often start powerless. They’re barely there, so easy to ignore or skip or miss.

There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people’s money and 2. Dismissing an idea.

Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn’t involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That’s easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.

So next time you hear something, or someone, talk about an idea, pitch an idea, or suggest an idea, give it five minutes. Think about it a little bit before pushing back, before saying it’s too hard or it’s too much work. Those things may be true, but there may be another truth in there too: It may be worth it.


2D becomes 3D

Spotted by Guy, here is a really interesting (and useful) application of a 3D optical illusion as opposed to merely aiming to please the eye (and the mind). The illusion itself has been used to perform the function of appearing as a zebra crossing (which it is); but also through its illusory nature, serving to actively slow approaching drivers down (perhaps more importantly).

Have a look at more coverage here.

Thanks, as ever, to parentheses (you know who you are).

Andrea Ucini

Another recommendation from illustration's Steve Wilkin is Andrea Ucini. A regular in the Guardian, Andrea's illustrations convey a strong sense of idea.


I´m a freelance conceptual illustrator living and working in Denmark.

I was born in Italy and graduated in classical piano and composition at the Music Academy of Florence. Music was my first source in a new form of expression. Drawing has been a deeper research in order to discover the different ways a concept or an emotion can be decoded in.


Christoph Niemann

Illustration Course Leader, Steve Wilkin, has recently switched us on to the incredible ideas and work of Christoph Niemann. Slightly perturbed as to how we missed him, the one lesson we can draw from this particular experience is that you must always keep your eyes (and ears) open as even talents like Christoph could somehow pass you by.

Here's the copy (text) from his website, and a few taster images. You could spend many hours on his website and Instagram.


Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author. His work has appeared on the covers of  The New Yorker, WIRED and The New York Times Magazine and has won awards from AIGA, the Art Directors Club and The Lead Awards. His corporate clients include Google, St. Moritz, LAMY, and The Museum of Modern Art. He is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale. In 2010, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame.

He has drawn live from the Venice Art Biennale, the Olympic Games in London, and he has sketched the New York City Marathon — while actually running it. He created The New Yorker’s first Augmented Reality Cover as well as a hand drawn 360 degree VR animation for the magazine’s US Open issue.

Niemann is the author of many books, including the monograph  “Sunday Sketching” (2016), “WORDS” (2016) and “Souvenir” (2017). With Nicholas Blechman he published the book “Conversations“. With Jon Huang he created the kids’ apps PETTING ZOO and CHOMP. His work is subject of an episode of Abstract, a new original NETFLIX series.


4 good reasons to study Graphic Design at Preston

We have been busy recently putting together a small promotional document about the Graphics course and thought it might be a good idea to show you a little of the work in progress. We have been scouring the hard drives and mining the archives to highlight a few highlights over the past 20 years. Hope you like?

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Laughing Stock

Laughing Stock

Hopefully we will have it printed for the degree shows in June!

Hopefully we will have it printed for the degree shows in June!