James Victore’s Burning Questions

For the past two years, designer James Victore has been offering advice on life, work and creative fulfilment through his weekly YouTube series, Burning Questions. The project has built up a loyal following of thousands and even inspired some to make life-changing decisions…

For the past two years, designer James Victore has been offering advice on life, work and creative fulfilment through his weekly YouTube series, Burning Questions. The project has built up a loyal following and even inspired some to make life-changing decisions…

Based in Brooklyn, Victore is an unashamedly opinionated creative. His clients include New York’s School for Visual Art, The New York Times and Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto and his work, both commercial and self-initiated, often engages with political or philosophical themes.

After publishing Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss? in 2010, a reflection on his work so far and graphic design today, Victore toured the US delivering talks and attending conferences, but realised he was speaking more about work/life issues than he was about design. This led to the idea for his weekly series, which regularly attracts more than 2,000 viewers.

“It was my wife’s idea,” says Victore. “I had begun writing more and spending more time traveling and teaching on stage to colleagues and at conferences. I was making my egress from being primarily a graphic designer. My wife…said, “You’ve got content and it’s gotta get out. Video is the way to do it.”

“I thought that was a wonderful idea, but who was going to play ME? I was afraid of looking bad on TV. My ego didn’t let me move forward. It took me a year to realise my mistake…It has been a bumpy start (figuring out the tech) and a frightening blast,” he explains.

In each video, Victore addresses a question from a different creative. Topics range from overcoming self-doubt to finding an individual voice or style and avoiding creative burnout. His advice is constructive, funny and candid: in response to a reader looking to find their style, he warns of the danger of looking to others’ for inspiration, or being swayed by trends. “Success isn’t autotrace – you can’t do it by following someone else’s stuff.”

He also stresses the importance of being passionate about what you do, trusting your own abilities and pushing boundaries creatively. “We all have fear and self-doubt but we don’t let it stop us. If I don’t push myself I get bored. If I don’t push my clients, then I’m not doing my job,” he says.

Victore says the response to his videos has been heartfelt and “overwhelming”. He also has a growing stack of ‘I quit my job’ letters from viewers who have been inspired by his unflinching honesty.

One reader, Harry, recently wrote to say: “Watching your talk made me realise a whole lot about what I do, why I do it and what I want out of it. I was chasing the wrong stuff and was completely unhappy. I just handed in my notice. I quit that job. Your talk was the massive wake up call that I needed.”

Of course, Victore’s aim isn’t to make all of his viewers quit their jobs but he does hope the project will help people re-assess what is and isn’t working in their lives. He describes the project as a ‘rallying cry for a creative revolution’, and believes we should all learn to say no “to the lack of creativity in our lives and work”, and stop relinquishing family time, health and sanity in roles we don’t enjoy.

“I’m starting a movement,” he says. “I want to be around fine, talented energetic people who give a damn.”

Victore also hopes his audience will find comfort in the fact that they’re not the only ones struggling with self-doubt or frustrations about their career.

“I think the vids work well for a creative audience, a student audience [and] just anyone who is interested in improving their lives, or understanding that their work and live CAN be a Gift – if they trust their gut and practice being themselves,” he adds.

See more of Victore’s work here, or watch more Burning Questions episodes on his YouTube channel.

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