Kern and Burn: Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs, A Book Review
Opening the new book by Kern and Burn feels like Christmas. The collaborative effort between Jessica Karle Heltzel and Tim Hoover, a soft copy of Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs arrived on my desk in crisp brown paper wrapping, so perfectly packaged it pained me to open. Diving into several layers of protective packaging and postcards, I uncovered their masterpiece, its cover design by The Heads of State simple, clean and inviting.
Dedicated to “those who kern, those who burn and those who embrace the risk of failure daily,” Conversations, copyrighted 2013, is available on Kern and Burn for $30. A digital version is also available for $15; files support the iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Nook.
The book was inspired by 100 Days, during which each day for 100 days, the two posted an inspiring article, story or interview on design entrepreneurship in order to share their process and research for what was to be their pièce de résistance.
Filled with illustrations by 12 talented designers, including Nate Utesch, Invisible Creature and Scotty Reifsnyder, Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs features Heltzel and Hoover’s interviews with 30 entrepreneurial-minded designers who have, as stated in the Foreword by Keenan Cummings, “found their vision and pursued it with force.”
Heltzel and Hoover have collected a wealth of knowledge and pearls of wisdom from some of the industry’s key players including design leaders and innovators at startups like Twitter, Airbnb, and Kickstarter, founders such as Khoi Vinh and Cameron Koczon, designers that craft products like Peter Buchanan-Smith and Studio Neat, those who champion side projects like SwissMiss and Christian Helms, and those who believe in the importance of writing and self-publishing, like The Manual. Celebrating their hustle, perspective and passion, they ask these designers the “hard questions and use design to discover the answers.”
Through the interview process, Heltzel and Hoover aim to motivate and inspire the reader, noting, “our hope is that we can learn from them – not to follow in their footsteps, but to chart our own course in parallel, one that allows us to thrive, add value to the world and love what we do.”
Ben Pieratt kicks off the series of 30 interviews, each offering a unique perspective into the lives and work of the designers, their history, motivations and insights. With each chapter under 12 pages, interviews are easy to nibble on when one is in need of a mid-morning coffee break.
Kern and Burn have done a nice job of choosing a wide array of resumes, making each designer’s perspectives enjoyable and refreshing. What’s also special is that tying them all together, however different their paths to success, is the genuine, unpretentious advice they have to share.
Underneath it’s perfect packaging, if you, too, are willing to delve inside, Kern and Burn: Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs offers 274 pages of hope, insight and inspiration. What more could you ask for?