Mill Talk with Rich Roat

This past Thursday evening, we were fortunate enough to hear from the co-founder of House Industries, Rich Roat, at The Mill’s latest “Mill Talk” in Wilmington. House Industries is world renowned for their eclectic font collections and American graphic designs. Their work can be found in collaborations made for Jimmy Kimmel, John Mayer, Hermès, and The New Yorker, to name a few.

Mill Talk

Roat spoke so passionately about the history of design and left us with some food for thought. There are 7 basic principles that he likes to follow to do his best and long-lasting work.

First, The Process Is The Inspiration.

House Industries

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He doesn’t like to get hung up, over-thinking about what to make for each client. He has a great team and together they get started on an idea and roll with it. They aren’t afraid to make changes and come up with crazy ideas in the middle of the process. Second, Bring Your Hobbies To Work. He is fortunate enough to be one of those people that LOVES what they do. Roat can be seen riding his custom bicycle engraved with the House Industries logo back and forth to the House studio in Yorklyn everyday. If that’s not bringing your hobbies to work, I don’t know what is.

Third, Sweat The Technique. You’re not crazy if you know how you want to do something and you won’t settle for anything less than just that. He stresses the techniques of his projects and ends up falling in love with each and every piece he makes. Fourth, Get Your Hands Dirty. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to use a material you have never used before. Jump in and give it your all, no matter how messy it might get. Fifth, Make New Friends. Roat probably mentioned 50 different names throughout his presentation, and you could tell they all meant a great deal to him. He even teared up talking about some members of his team that have been around since the company’s inception. He say’s that they’re so good at what they do, it makes him want to be better. And with each project he gets, he sees it as an opportunity to enrich his life with new ideas and new people.

Sixth, Tell It Like It Was. This one might sound like a bizarre sentiment, but is in fact very important. He was referring to the rich history of graphic design and even of the entire world. He uses not only new ideas, but old ideas and themes of the past to create his best work. Sure, the industry has grown and improved in many areas, but there’s something about simply picking up a paintbrush that no computer can ever truly mimic the control and beautiful texture of. Lastly, Embrace The Chaos. He says that life will come at you and certainly not in the order of his principles. It will be overwhelming at times and that’s when it’s most important to remember why you’re doing what you do. You love it. Work with the rushing water of the river you’re in; don’t try to fight it. In the end, you’ll have a piece of art so beautiful that it reflects every night’s sleep you lost over it, every drop of sweat and blood, and every tear. And that’s the kind of art that makes Roat say, “art can change the world”.

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