Inside the designer’s studio: Chris Pullman

Last night, Lynn, Jess and I, along with Jane Mazzarella, one of our clients from Harvard Business School, attended “Inside the Designer’s Studio: Chris Pullman,” an AIGA event. For 35 years, Chris Pullman served as vice president for design and visual communications at WGBH.

The talk was set up to mimic Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Designer Daniel Dejan interviewed Chris, asking him a range of questions, from “What were your earliest influences?” to “How did you transition from Yale to WGBH?”

Some of the highlights included:

  • A good education prepares you for the problem you never had, the thing you never knew you wanted to do.

  • As a designer, it’s helpful to be a “generalist.”

  • Graphic design’s roots are in language.

  • WGBH makes programs to bring ideas to people. Other networks make programs to bring people to advertisers.

  • A good designer stays engaged because he’s always “running in front of the train.”

  • Designers get energy from the problems proposed by other people.

  • Media overtake each other. They don’t kill each other.

  • Chris is open to the idea of reading a book on a Kindle.

Chris concluded the talk with a list of 10 things he learned throughout his career—his parting words to WGBH:

The chance invitation to work here at WGBH placed me in an environment that was a perfect fit for my temperament, and for my aspirations as a professional and as just a plain person. Once I came here, I recognized, gradually, why it felt so right as a place to work and associate. I’d like to take this opportunity to share ten lessons I learned in the past 35 years.

  1. Work on things that matter.

  2. Work with people you like and respect.

  3. Be nice.

  4. Have high standards.

  5. Have a sense of humor.

  6. Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking.

  7. Variety is the spice of life.

  8. Institutions have a character, just like people do. [This is particularly applicable to what we do here at studio-e.]

  9. We’re all in the “understanding business.” 

  10. You are what you eat.

AIGA / industry