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The 6 Best Podcasts for Designers (In No Particular Order)

by Shane Mehling
art & design, featured

The weird thing about a design podcast is that, well, by design it’s missing the visuals. Who wants to hear a couple people talk about fonts, right? As someone who likes to be inspired by what they see, a podcast may sound like a huge waste of time. But you’d be surprised how a good podcast with engaging hosts and impressive production can only not make you see design, but it can help you see it in a completely different way.

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Since it’s becoming easier and easier to make a podcast (check out this class if you’ve been thinking about it yourself), a lot of interesting perspectives and original voices are coming to the digital airwaves. There is a lot out there that, yes, will probably not be worth your time. But this freedom has allowed the realm of design to be scrutinized in especially interesting way by these six shows:

1. 99% Invisible

99invis

Probably the most famous design podcast, it does what its name promises — takes a serious look at everything that we don’t see when it comes to design. In other words, we see 1% of the finished product, and this looks at the other 99%. Due to its popularity you’ve probably heard of it before, but it has stretched its own idea of design pretty far to include episodes on everything from escalators to skate parks to people who know everything there is about flags.

2. Deeply Graphic

A thorough “Designcast,” this is a deep dive on both the creative and business ends of graphic design, delivered in a friendly, light tone. It’s like listening to a bunch of successful buddies having lunch and talking about everything that makes them successful. And in that causal approach it offers up some incredible insight.

3. Let’s Make Mistakes

Everything about this one is great, from the name to the podcast image (a little girl smoking) to the succinct description of the show: “Mike and Jessie talk about design with a lot of tangents along the way.” Sometimes raunchy, often educational and reliably hilarious, the podcast does a great job of removing the mystique around design jobs and helping you amass the tools you need.

4. Type Radio

This podcast can be a little dry, but what it reveals can be fascinating. Some of the best creators of type in the world explain how they came up with their ideas, how they pulled them off and what inspired them in the first place. Again, this may not be for the casual listener, but it is for the self-described type nerd this is the kind of podcast you can’t miss out on.

5. Design Matters

Debbie Millman: Design Matters

While podcasts have only really gained steam in the last few years, 2016 marks the 11th year that Debbie Millman has been picking the brains of designers to find out how they tick in pretty much every way. With almost 250 episodes, ranging from thirty minutes to an hour, this can keep you going for a long time. We suggest you start in on them right away and also join in Debbie’s CreativeLive class on Personal Branding.

6. Seanwes

This is less for people looking for design talk and more for those of us who want to be able to attack our goals with a better sense of proportion and practicality. Sean McCabe, who became a successful entrepreneur thanks to his love of art and design, is now more of an inspirational speaker, trying to keep listeners both optimistic and realistic about their chances for success. Again, if you are hungering for design talk, you may want to stick with the ones above. But If you need a pick-me-up, this is what you’ll want to tune into.  

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Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.