655 - Dan Ibarra of Thriving Concern "The Exit Interview"


It is time for Dan Ibarra's exit interview. After co-founding Aesthetic Apparatus over fifteen years ago, Dan now primarily finds himself as an educator of the arts in various modalities and continues to design at his latest endeavor, Thriving Concern. This pivot was slow in coming but eventually meant the end of his involvement with Aesthetic Apparatus as more and more of his time was spent teaching and filling an emotional gap design alone couldn't fill. By pulling on that string Dan found a whole new side to how he would define "success" in his own creative career and what brought him fulfillment. The work he was doing at Aesthetic Apparatus centered around continually creating new ideas and Dan knew his strengths truly lay in developing long term strategic plans for the people he chose to work with. Instead of forcing that new design approach into how Aesthetic Apparatus operated, he broke away to create Thriving Concern. This "exit interview" is about nurturing growth and having the confidence to follow something new when you know it's time to step away from what used to define you.

Talking Points

  • The search for a career you love, the arrival of desktop publishing, and the entry point Aesthetic Apparatus opened.
  • Unfortunate truths about stardom in the design world.
  • Painful parts behind the scenes that we make look so easy and gauging industry loyalty.
  • Doing the best work you can by putting creative success at the top of the list.
  • Working through the highs and lows of the design drug.
  • Shifting from the cycle of creativity to long term strategic work and another financially fraught career choice.
  • Just dive in and saying so long to 700.
  • Is “success” the right word to define a creative career?
  • Helping other people with the time you have and choosing where you’ll make your money.
  • The start of Schoolhaus, building communities, and proving yourself through life experience.
  • Understanding ideas, creativity, and finding strange connections between disparate objects.
  • Other people’s creative process, the difficulty to verbalize it, and the liberty that comes from constraints.
  • New businesses and old partnerships. 
  • The trajectory of your life.
  • Post Aesthetic Apparatus plans, getting cock blocked by election results, and teaching design to non-designers. 
  • Five months to detach from fifteen years and its effect on your ego. 
  • Leading up to letting go. 
  • Different lives outside of design and starting from zero in education. 
  • Balancing the practitioner side of things and working with the clients you’ve built long term relationships with.
  • The “thing” about Thriving Concern and the flood of communication that’s missing. 
  • The skills that will never leave you from a career in Design. 
  • "Creative success" in conflict with the American Dream.