“This room is so nice, I’m used to duct tape and rougher things.”
Hearing him tell his story, it would be unlikely that one would assume the background of Josh Higgins would have led him to graphic design. Growing up in southern California, his first contact with graphic design was in flyers for punk bands he found around his hometown. In 8th grade, when he formed his own punk band, he would spend hundreds of hours at Kinkos cutting type and enlarging photos. One of the dozen or so bands he played with growing up eventually got signed and he went on tour with them for almost a decade. He had an enviable position as a musician, having been sponsored by Fender. After a while though, he decided to stop touring because he knew it would dry up eventually. It was at this point where he was first exposed to graphic design by a friend who had recently graduated a program for it. It was a foreign concept to him at the time — “I could actually make money for doing what I used to do at Kinko’s as a kid?”
Creative Director / Facebook (San Francisco)
His first exposure to using design for a cause was a poster in 2005 created for The Hurricane Poster Project, a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina. It made a couple thousand dollars, which was at the time more than he could have contributed from his own pocket. That’s when the potential for design to help the world dawned on him. Working closely with Leif Steiner, the creator the the Hurricane Poster Project, Higgins went on to create a similar projects benefiting San Diego after the fire and more notably Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
That was when he got an email from Obama.
Well, not from Obama exactly. But from his campaign. He was asked to come on board as the head of the design team. He packed up his things and headed for Chicago.In this new position, Higgins now had the opportunity to constantly work for a cause, finding new and inventive ways to improve the relationship between campaigners and everyday people. He created style guides that were incredibly pervasive—”No piece was too small”—and, with a team of celebrated designers, set out every day to create something with a positive social goal in mind.
Higgins has since moved to the Bay Area and now works with a team of designers at Facebook, and will happily celebrate the creative teams he has been able to work with throughout his career. He left us with a piece of advice: “Treasure the moments. You never know when a life changing one will come along. Some of your lives may change even today because of the people you meet. Don’t let them slip by.”
Text — Jack Koloskus — @koloskus