A little over 2 and a half years ago, I became an intern at Oxide Design. I’ll just state the obvious and point out that I’m still not currently an intern at Oxide, despite all of my kicking, screaming, biting, and clawing. My relatively short stay of 7 months, however, was enough to completely change my approach to design.

-Craig Hughes

There are a myriad of characteristics that make a great designer. I’m not going to pretend that I can sum all of them up right here, but I can at least share a few of them that I observed at Oxide. I contend that the best designers in the world are empathetic people, they tend to be smarter than the average bear, they have a desire to absorb new information and ideas, they are passionate about what they do, and they have an uncanny ability to apply all of the above to solve a particular problem. Actually, I would dare to say that the best <insert job title here> probably shares these same characteristics too.

Very early on, I could tell that Oxide was a place that used Design differently from what I had seen previously. Design wasn’t just about making beautiful things, it was about solving a problem. The most immaculately illustrated logo may have little value to a company if it is not aligned with a larger scheme of what the company is, what it does, what it believes in, where it is going, etc. The guys at Oxide know this, and it was a treat for me to join their collaborative process of pointing the ship in the right direction before setting sail. We would collect our brain-power for hours to find the best way to approach the problem. Only then would we actually sit down on the computer and start doing what most people think of when they hear the term “graphic design.” In the end, we would have a beautiful logo (or brochure, poster, etc.) that had loads of value to the client.

Being in this kind of environment had a profound effect on my skills as a designer and problem-solver. As such, my school years can be easily divided into two categories: Before Oxide and After Oxide.

I also walked away with a decent knowledge of how to remove a dangerously heavy metal sign from a two-story building. All you need is a wobbly ladder, a handful of frail rope, a limber intern, and a healthy dose of problem-solving.

Note: Craig Hughes was an intern at Oxide during the summer and fall of 2008.