Nathan Martin’s career path has been anything but conventional. In this episode of Design Notes—the show about creative work and what it teaches us—guest host Aaron Lammer interviews Martin about the wild work of his award-winning innovation studio, Deeplocal, how to make design more like punk rock, and why communication and collaboration help the studio avoid failure.
During SPAN 2017 in Pittsburgh, Deeplocal created a machine that generated unique poster designs based on an array of overlapping templates.
On the importance of talking to your team members
“As long as we have really good communication, there are a lot of ways to correct a problem in the middle of a workstream. When people are talking and not just doing their piece of the work, you never get to a point where you put it together and it doesn't work.”
On being a generalist
“In advertising, there are so many different businesses and specialties—they've divided themselves over the years because they've figured out where they can make money. We’ve collapsed that. [By doing so] we have total control. And that allows us to behave like a rock band.”
On learning over expertise
“I don't put huge stock in specific technical skills. People that thrive working with me are those who want to learn, who want to be challenged, and who are okay with a subjective goal.”
“I think an artist’s job is not to tell us what to think, but to get us to think for ourselves—about the things that we take for granted.”
Handy info and links for this episode:
- Deeplocal is a based in Pittsburgh, PA. The company spun off from the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry research lab at Carnegie Mellon University in 2006.
- Watch a video on the balloon-powered #Selfiebration machine that Deeplocal created for Old Navy
- Meet Nike’s Chalkbot, built by Deeplocal to display user-submitted tweets along the Tour de France route
- Before founding Deeplocal, Martin was better known for leading the punk metal band Creation is Crucifixion
- Martin also founded the anarchist artist collective Carbon Defense League
- The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon was established in 1979
- Download a PDF transcript of Design Notes, Episode 8