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Post-Graduation Podcast: An Interview

December 10, 2012

Graduation.

That word alone is enough to turn even the most poised and elegant into nervous wrecks.

Why? Because to many it’s seen as the first step into the real world; the beginning of their lives. For art school students, it’s finally the time to get their voices– the ones they’ve been trying to develop and mold for the past four years– heard.

That’s not only difficult, but slightly terrifying. It often requires endless exploration, experimentation, seemingly aimless wandering, and delving into every crevice of their mind. And for Andy Mangold? A podcast.

After graduating from MICA in 2011 with a BFA in Graphic Design, Andy turned to developing his co-owned business, Friends of the Web. But that’s not the only way he’s been getting his name out there and networking. In the most recent months, he’s dove headfirst into the podcast world, trading Adobe for a mic. Well, kind of.

The weekly podcast is known as On the Grid, and it combines the voices of three designers: Andy Mangold, Dan Auer, and Matt McInerney. Each week, they focus on three topics and casually discuss their effects on the design world. Conversations have ranged from Instagram to Facebook to Disneyland. And needless to say, when you combine strong personalities that enjoy voicing their opinions, these three guys keep it interesting.

And lucky enough for me, I was able to sit-down with the former MICA graduate to further discuss his shared podcast and the post-graduation life.

Okay, let’s go to the beginning and talk about finishing school. How was the graduation experience– transitioning from school to real life– for you? 

AM: I feel like the transition was fairly seamless for me because I did the same thing in school that I’m doing now. The only difference is that instead of doing it for class, I have to do it for clients, which is actually a pretty easy transition to make.

Did you find it difficult to get your thoughts and ideas out in the design world? 

AM: No. Actually, I think that’s what design is. If you’re not putting your own thoughts and ideas into it, then you’re just making shit pretty. For me, design has always been about having a voice and opinion and portraying that through my work.

So you turned to podcasts. Now, to sum it up, what are the On the Grid podcasts about? What do you normally discuss?

AM: It’s different than other design podcasts because we talk about design in a very thoughtful way. I think most people– designers and non-designers– have the opinion that design is a very shallow, visual thing. We talk about design in terms of complex systems, designing structures, and creating experiences and interactions. The topics we discuss on the show are things that I think most people don’t necessary define as “design topics.” We’ll talk about the way Amazon changed their business model, or tech news and things that are happening in the world through the perspective of designers, which most people wouldn’t think of doing.

How did you first get involved with the whole podcast idea?

AM: I met [Matt and Dan] on Twitter. We’re Twitter friends. I hadn’t actually met Matt until I went to New York about a month and a half ago and got lunch with him. And I didn’t meet Dan until this past weekend when I was in San Francisco. We became Twitter friends years ago, I don’t remember how. But we started talking to each other on Twitter– they both went to school together– and I know Matt and I always had an interest in podcasts. And there are no good design podcasts, I can honestly say, so that’s basically what started the show. I think design can be discussed in a thoughtful way, we had mutual interests, and Matt had experience in making podcasts in the past, so with a little push we all came together and did it.

You always end up talking about a range of topics from week to week, like I remember one touching on Disneyland.  Are there any particular conversations that stand out to you? 

AM: Yeah, there’s one, Episode 14 I think. It’s called Flatline. It’s kind of like the beginning of me going through what was a design existential crisis for a few weeks. It really started with that show and so it’s recording me becoming really unsure of myself and my profession all the sudden. Then over the next couple days we came back to the subject a little bit and I was able to figure some things out. That show definitely stands out because we spent the entire time talking about one topic since it ended up being this really deep well of conversation around authenticity in designing things for the screen. There are no rules and we’re sort of making everything up as we go, and it’s really difficult to design something in that sort of an environment. That show is definitely the most interesting show that we’ve put out there so far.

Are there any events in pop culture news that you’re itching to discuss on a podcast? 

AM: Yeah, we discuss things that are pop culture all the time. Our pop culture discussions are about things like Instagram– that’s the pop culture of our generation, more so than I think music and movies are. So pop websites and pop web services, or a pop app. They’re new and an interesting route.

What do you hope to achieve through having these podcasts? 

AM: I would really love to change the conversation about design with the podcast, but that’s not going to happen for a long time. Right now we’re just sort of preaching to the choir. The people that find the podcast and like it are the people that already think this way. I’d like to get to the point where we are popular enough that people who don’t think that way will listen to the show because they want to see what it’s all about and they think it’s relevant. If we can get there, the conversation we have about design and its role in the world today will be much more important.

And with its unique, thoughtful take on the design world, On the Grid is definitely a podcast worth listening to. Not only that, but it also shows how Andy has gotten his foot clearly through the door and is succeeding in a wide-range of fields after graduating only a couple years ago. His achievements and discussions with Matt and Dan on the podcast provide hope for me and other students at MICA who are reaching the end of their college journey. There are so many things we, as artists, can do with our degrees. We just need to push fears aside and jump in because sometimes the biggest part of getting our voices heard after graduation is creating a different way to share them.

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