Meet The Speaker: Taylor Cashdan

Taylor is a North Carolina-based multidisciplinary creative and community builder who’s passionate about people, design, and all the intersections in between.

He brings to the tables a burning desire to collaborate with others to create exceptional work “for people who give a shit.”

This October, we’re welcoming Taylor as a part of Baltimore Design Week 2019. His talk, titled “Stress Addiction: From Morning Coffee to the Cardiac Wing,” aligns with our recent efforts to engage with our community and peers about mental wellness and self-care.

Read on and get to know Taylor – from how he got started in design to what he’s digging right now. Then, join us in person during Baltimore Design Week!

Stress Addiction talk 10/23 with taylor cashdan

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Taylor: The people and things around me, and by extension, the Internet. I’m not one of those people that’s anti-Internet for sourcing inspiration. Never in the history of man have we as individuals had the reach we do now thanks to the Internet–you’d be foolish not to take advantage of it.

What advice would you give to your 20-something self?

Taylor: What you’re doing is working, so relax, continue to lean into authenticity, and remember is okay to take a break sometimes–your brain (and friends) will appreciate it.

When did you first realize you wanted a career in design?

Taylor: I can track all of my major “career” decisions back to people telling me “no, you can’t do this”. My first step in the direction of becoming a designer was during a 9th grade elective-fair (where you could come and learn about all the classes you could choose from for high school). The journalism teacher said “sorry, we don’t allow freshmen on our staff”…3 months later, I was the first freshman.

What’s your favorite quote or philosophy?

Taylor: There’s a book called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” that has a lot of quick, punchy lessons. But the one that’s stuck with me the most goes something like this: “you may not be directly responsible for what happened, but you are responsible for how you react to it.” I’ve defaulted back to that statement during times of stress or conflict and it has helped me not over or underreact.

What’s the harshest criticism you’ve ever gotten about your work and how did you handle it?

Taylor: I was told in an interview debrief via a recruiter that “I’d make a better design manager than an actual designer”. And at the time, it hit me hard. I was thinking “wow, they’d rather me be the one talking to the designers than actually making things–I must really suck”. Fast forward a few years, I now realize it was a compliment–the consideration and perspective I was viewing and presenting my work from was both at the 10,000-foot level and in the weeds, and the position I was applying for would have been too mundane. The lesson here is: it’s not always about you, sometimes, it’s about what an organization/client/person/etc needs or doesn’t need.

Is there any designer or piece of design that you’re digging right now?

Taylor: I’ve been leaning into monoline illustration heavily lately. It’s nice because you can pull in SO much detail, but it can also scale well with subtraction. Brian Steely has been a huge source of inspiration for me–and of course the simplicity of Draplin’s “thick lines” mantra.

Stress Addiction talk 10/23 with taylor cashdan

By Frances Miller
Published September 15, 2019