Carole Guevin: The pioneering curator of the creative community

Today we’re honoured to have a very special interview with Carole Guevin, the founder and editor of Netdiver Magazine, one of the first online design portals showcasing the worldwide design digital culture with a simple motto “no hype — just beautiful”.

To begin the interview (and this was actually how this interview began), I would like to share the introduction from Laszlito Kovacs, our creative director, of this very special guest: “Carole Guevin is one of the pioneers curating, selecting and promoting the very best of the creative community. She’s been an inspiration for me and my generation for many years. I truly believe that her input will be of extreme value for our audience, and  I couldn’t be happier to have her in our blog.”

Please tell us a bit about yourself in case our readers don’t know you.

I am an eye candy editor, curator, philosopher, geek , communication designer, online pioneer, theorist, creative activist, songwriter and founding partner of the FYE creative continuum, publisher of Netdiver Magazine.

I hit the web in 1995 (prior having being on the Internet about 15+ years before — on the primitive scientific network — working at the CRMA/ UdeM group). Since, I have become an internationally recognized driving force and unrelenting industry evangelist, activist and catalyst through my work as editor, championing rising talent worldwide, online and beyond.

I have served on many jury panels such as the Adobe Design Achievement Award, HOW interactive, AIGA, SXSWi. Guest lectured at the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins (London, UK); OFFF Barcelona where I ran a creativity workshop; speaker at FITC, SXSWi, FOTB, Art Directors Club.

I am passionate about the emerging digital culture, the future of design, creativity, and self-promotion.


Photo by Lillian Xia

Julius Wiedemann, editor in charge at Taschen GmbH, included Netdiver as part of his TED University session 100 Websites You Should Know and Use and Vitaly Friedman, chief editor of Smashing Magazine, named Netdiver as one of the 42 Design/Tech Magazines to Read.

How did you come up with Netdiver Mag?

Back in 1995 — I came across a couple of documents that hinted at the ‘possibilities’ of the infant www. I decided to jump in. My first search contained a single word: IDEA.

First result that caught my eye — was the Idea Factory by Chiat Day. The manifesto — vision of what they were implementing (a non-linear non-hierachical agency as well as the stunning interior space to facilitate this) — stirred me profoundly and sent me on a hunt (quest?): were there ‘others’??

They had put in words and images — exactly what I was foreseeing: when creatives would take hold of the network — they would change the world. Keep in mind that the early web was very much so almost exclusively the land of sysadmin — tech heads versus creative heads.

I spent 3 years pondering — researching — questioning — creating stealth labs and amassing a vast library of references. I then decided (way before ‘blogs’ even existed) to publish my bookmarks — to substantiate the ‘proof’ of my initial theory. Creative people were going to conquer the Internet.

Right about that time Bill Gates professed his infamous quote : “That the Internet was.. totally useless!” Ah! I was ready to prove him wrong (lol) and that is how Netdiver Mag became to be and became one of the first online design portal.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

Mmm.. how about when we started highlighting a world map to see which countries were visiting ND — to discover — to our total surprise — that most of the ‘connected’ countries were. 108!!! I was full circle back to what I had written as my life manifesto when 14:

a) I was going to be an artist — still working on this

b) I was going to change the world.

I am still pursuing both.

Could you share some tips for illustrators to promote themselves (although all they want may be just to draw)?

  1. Dare to ask — to the point of annoyance if need be.
  2. Knock on all possible doors to receive visibility for your work such as online blogs and editorial desks.
  3. Contextualise your offer = think locally + dare to act globally.
  4. Keep it short and direct — 2–3 sentences + url to portfolio.
  5. Remember — NO one owes you — stay humble.
  6. NO is part of the process.
  7. Received coverage? Contact all your clients (or potential clients) immediately  —  good news are contagious.

Edit – Edit – Edit by Carole Guevin

And please elaborate on the curation process! Especially what can be learnt as strategies from the artists’ perspectives.

To curate infers that someone has the ability to ‘sort’ things out — all the while being able to tap into a large pool of references (having seen a vast amount of work) and capacity to distantiate as much as possible — from external, cultural or political trends or pressures.

That’s the ideal picture.

But curators posit anywhere across this spectrum. Some will be totally subservient to patronage, while others, iconoclastic in their subjectivity.

The best ones forego the two above scenarios, are capable of identifying the good, the bad and the exceptional. They truly strive to find and identify outstanding projects.

So since my main focus has been to discover talent — the ‘pivotal’ tool in the hands of creatives is their portfolio. Sounds simple enough — and probably quite obvious. Anyone can create an account in a few or myriad platforms to showcase their work. And I encourage you to do so — but first and foremost — you need a portfolio.

Not any sort of portfolio — an exceptional portfolio that will pique a curator or editorial desk or agent or client interest.

What’s in and out of a strong portfolio?

  1. Show only what you absolutely want to redo.
  2. Edit — edit — edit. Only your Mother reads it all. So forget about showing your when-I-was-3 years old-doodles or half-baked concepts or attempts. Hideous paying-the-bills-only-projects can safely be left out.
    Honest — just keep the crap out.
  3. Build your brand — your unique signature. In the whole wide world — only ‘you’ sees and feels the way you do. That is how your work will become recognizable — as belonging to you.
    Your very own uniqueness becomes your core asset.
  4. Experiment — experiment — experiment. Expand your scope.
    Invest in your talent. Maintain on-going personal projects. Initiate collaborations.
  5. Normal to doubt. We make things that are invisible, visible. Our role is to reinvent and reinterpret. We are not cloning engineers.
  6. Raging fears of failure, incompetency, rejection, and other nasties are.. our ego check points. Keeps us sane and human.
  7. Your 100% best is good enough any day. Aim for excellence not perfection. And tomorrow — you will already have improved.
    Faking it, is suicidal — and somebody will see right through it.
  8. Show and tell. Pride (only) in delivery.

The future of the creative industry – is literally in your hands. Now you go out there and shine. Do us proud.

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