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If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BS in political science from UC Berkeley (emphasis on the BS).

What’s the best site you've seen lately? What's so great about it? I don't Web surf but my current favorite design tool is Flickr. I love rapidly comping ideas from such a rich pool of real-world photos. Need an image of a half-eaten fish stick? Take your pick.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I already did that. I’m now doing what I love most. I’m very lucky.

Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? Neither. Each is just a tool to solve a problem. The big question is which problems we chose to solve.

From where do your best ideas originate? New ideas are just natural mutations of collective thought occurring in many people’s minds all around the world all at once. Ideas that resonate are part of an interconnected set of emerging concepts and possibilities; my best ideas are fished from this stream of collective consciousness. A self-originating idea is an illusion of the ego.

How do you overcome a creative block? By focusing not on being creative but on finding a solution using only the available resources. Having clear constraints and a real problem to solve are the best catalysts for creativity.  

In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Possessed.

What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? That would be my firm’s site that, known to me, has not been touched in more than five years. Thank goodness for referrals.

Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? I’m working on several engaging social projects that demand extraordinary creativity from me and others. Here’s an example: The launch of (<) , pronounced less, which is the world’s first open-source brand. When you put the (<) mark on something you already own, you commit to three principles: 1. Exploring the beauty of less in your own life; 2. Doing more for others; and 3. No money changing hands around the use of the (<) mark. I aspire to have (<) become an internationally recognizable symbol, like a peace sign, but for a new generation grappling with sustainability.

What music are you listening to right now? Gershwin plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls.

What product/gadget can you not live without? My bicycle.

What’s the strangest thing you've bought online? A stuffed squirrel. I lost three to higher bidders before, but I finally got serious and bagged one. What kind of world to we live in when people engage in online bidding wars for dead squirrels?

What’s your favorite quote? “At the moment of commitment the entire world conspires to ensure your success.” —Goethe

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? See quote above.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? Nothing. Why spoil a good ending?

Ben Davis runs two SF-based graphic design and communication firms. In 1995 he founded Words Pictures Ideas with the guiding mantra of “Do Good. Have Fun. Learn. Make a Living.” In 2008, he opened a firm dedicated exclusively to purpose-driven design with the unlikely and unwieldy name I Shot Him Because I Loved Him, Damn Him with the simple mission “Changing Hearts, Minds and Habits.”

Ben has a passion for legacy projects—major civic and social projects that will create generational positive impacts. Examples are the Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Retrofit and the Transbay Transit Center projects, as well as the Stanford Medical Center Renewal Project. Award-winning work includes 72hours.org, baybridge360.org and QuakeQuizSF.org.
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