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Game On: HOW Design Live with Justin Ahrens

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Justin Ahrens of Rule29 will be leading a Sunday June 26 session at HOW Design Live in Chicago. Check out the schedule to find out more about his talk. We asked Justin to tell us a little about himself and his planned conversation in his home town, Chicago, host of the HOW Design Live this year. After Justin, le Deluge: Design Army’s Pum and Jake, Pluto’s very own Mig Reyes and Karma’s Happy Lucky Love Love Lady Dyana Valentine will be guests on our exclusive “Game On: Design Live With” Series

1)            Did you choose your HOW Design Live speaker’s topic … or did it choose you?

The topic this year really has chosen me. Our work and my desire to constantly try to see and do things differently has really been ever present and motivating me. Motivating me to change and to push and to understand how design can really be an impact for change. Even when we don’t have a ton of paid work in that area I’m constantly challenge myself and my associates to take notice and to see things in a broader and broader context.

2) Where does your passion stop and your work begin?

There is really no stop or start for me. I’m constantly thinking, looking, creating even if I’m not sketching or physically at work. Now there are degrees of when it is in the forefront of my mind and times where I repress it a bit, but it is constant and it has taken me years to understand that. But my passion isn’t just me thinking about work, it’s doing things that feeds that creative monster inside that needs regular attention and fuel….gin and tonics too.

3) How do you separate life from work… since I know enough about each of you to know you work a lot and love your work!

My life fuels my work and my work fuels some of the things in my life, but there is a constant challenge of creating space for things that are far more important than work. Those things include time with my family that energize and inspire me. I love to travel, devour movies, books, music and spending time on my road bike and a variety of other shenanigans outside with my kids . In the end those activities inspire my work more than anything else because they help me to be me which in the end makes my work that much more creative and satisfying.

4) Do you have an office at home?

I don’t, but we did buy an old home and turn it into an office – does that count? Go see our cool space: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rule29/sets/72157606997588996/


5) Do you have children or pets…. and if so, how do they inform your work and ideas?

I’m a Dad of four kids under the age of 11. To say life sometimes is crazy is an understatement. Luckily I have an amazing wife and together we wrangle as best as we can. My kids have really been one of the main catalysts for the direction we are going with some of our work and how I’m trying to see the world as a professional. There is so much good work being done to make a difference and we want to help that be more successful. Whether that is using our craft to help, pitching in or just being an advocate in someway is really what we are trying to do. Sounds trite, but if I can make this world a little better for them and get them to see this world  outside of themselves I will feel very satisfied as a parent and creative.

6) Will you please name three or four things you want to accomplish through your appearance at HOW Design Live in Chicago?

• Would love to inspire attendees at my session to pause and try to see some things in this world and in their work a little differently.

• One of the strengths of HOW is meeting so many amazing people and fellow speakers that work within the industry. All of us coming together to share ideas, struggles and inspiration is always a high point of my summer.

•   Slow dance with Jake or Pum, or both, I’m open.

7) Um, will you save the last dance for me?

When hell freezes over. What is the temperature outside, anyway?


  1. 06

    One of my favorite people and a fabulous designer too! Looking forward to seeing Justin bring his inspiration and creativity again to HOW this year!