Ep. 33: Josh Higgins

Graphic designer and Senior Creative Director of Facebook’s Building 8 team, Josh Higgins, spent his SoCal youth surfing, enduring a painful homelife, and harboring rebellious angst. He found therapeutic release and success in playing punk rock music, and also accidentally found the pathway to his calling. Now, he’s a champion of social causes and connecting the world through empathy. Oh and remember when Obama ran for re-election in 2012? Guess who design-directed that victorious campaign? Go Josh!

What is your earliest memory?

Hmmm, the one that comes to mind and I am not sure if it is because it has been replayed to me so many times or I remember it but when I was 3 or 4, my grandparents were having a dinner party and my grandma kept telling me not to touch the food that was out for the guests. I kept trying to and she got sterner with her warning. I then grabbed the tablecloth, yanked it and pulled everything off while saying “you're all a bunch of sons of bitches!” and I stormed out. My Grandpa when ever he told me that story up into my 20s would say “you were right. They are were sons of bitches.”

"This is my dad. He had a acting career before I was born. This is a shot from his first film with Howard Hughes, who was about to begin filming The Outlaw, Jack Buetel (Dad) was signed to play the lead role as Billy the Kid, Hughes also signed another newcomer, Jane Russell, for the female lead."

"This is my dad. He had a acting career before I was born. This is a shot from his first film with Howard Hughes, who was about to begin filming The Outlaw, Jack Buetel (Dad) was signed to play the lead role as Billy the Kid, Hughes also signed another newcomer, Jane Russell, for the female lead."

How do you feel about democratic design?

I feel when it is done right with intention to produce something of quality, it is awesome. Where I feel it fails is when the affordability element is the driver and the other elements are produced subpar.

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?

“Whatever you do, do it well.” This is also what inspires me. Example, I went to rent a storage space and the guy behind the counter was reading a book when I walked in. I thought to myself this is going to be a really lame experience but to my surprise the guy walked me around to all the different space sizes, walked me through the contract, told me the things I didn’t need (special lock etc) and to my surprise the experience was actually really good and walked out really surprised. The guy could have just done the bare minimum and screwed me on the contract but he was invested in what he did and did it well making my experience a good one. I was impressed and inspired.

josh-higgins-posters.jpg
I dedicate a percentage of my time to social causes. Finding creative ways to support them has manifested into charitable projects, like The Hurricane, So-Cal and Haiti Poster Projects with proceeds donated to various charitable organizations and causes. Each poster is my contribution.

How do you record your ideas?

Usually in a sketchbook but sometimes in simplenote on my phone.

A recent poster Josh designed and silk screened with friend Anna Frederick.

A recent poster Josh designed and silk screened with friend Anna Frederick.

What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?

Silk screens and ink. It has been for a long time.

What book is on your nightstand? 

Aaron Draplin’s Pretty Much Everything.

Josh says: "This is the book that got me to pursue design. Given to me by my best friend and bandmate O when I didn’t even know what design was."

Josh says: "This is the book that got me to pursue design. Given to me by my best friend and bandmate O when I didn’t even know what design was."

Why is authenticity in design important?

Without it you have nothing. I think the most important is authenticity in intent. Why are you doing the project? I feel it is important to be able to answer this question beyond because of the money.

Josh was Creative Director for Facebook's global Pride identity

Josh was Creative Director for Facebook's global Pride identity

Favorite restaurant in your city?

Foreign Cinema. Mmmmmmmmm

What might we find on your desk right now?

I recently spoke at Mattel Toys and they made me a custom Hot Wheels with hand lettered type of my name on it. It sits proudly on my desk.

Who do you look up to and why?

I look up to my long time friend and fluf bandmate, O. He is one of the most authentic people I know. He lives life on his terms and always has. I respect him for so many reasons from his amazing songwriting to painting skills but the former is one of the biggest reasons

What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?

This might be obvious but helping to reelect President Obama was a highlight of not only my life but also my career. It combined to of my passions, applying my skills for a cause I believe in and design.

What are the last five songs you listened to?

Stranger than fiction / Bad Religion
Betray / Minor Threat
The Killing Moon / Echo and the Bunnyman
Halloween head / Ryan Adams
Elliott Smith / Everybody Cares, Everybody understands

OBAMA!!!!!!

OBAMA!!!!!!


You can find Josh's work over on joshhiggins.com or over on Twitter and Instagram. You can also purchase posters in his Etsy shop.


Special thanks to Chris Modl of Yore Studio for editing this episode.
Music in this episode courtesy of El Ten Eleven—hear more on Bandcamp.
Shoutout to Jenny Rask for designing the Clever logo.