“Make analogies, see if they work.” – Virgil Abloh

As a creative, I wish I understood this when I was younger. When you’re just getting started it’s easy to try to be totally different when really if we understand what’s at the heart of our project or inspiration we’ll find a historical precedent to ground the idea.

From there you can build on the idea in a much more powerful way because you can use the reference to understand how to reinvent something in a new context.

Great artists steal aka great artists make analogies and see if they work with a new signature and context.

Virgil uses this simple mental model combined with his 7 principles of a “Personal Design Language” to create his own category of creative work. If you don’t understand Virgil’s work, see slide 2 and all his projects make sense. I’m still working on writing down my version.

Watch “Virgil Abloh’s Lecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design” below and enjoy!

P.S. If you get this right you can create your own signature and category. I’m a big fan of @lochhead and the book “Play Bigger” which breaks down category design for great products and companies. The secret at the end of the book is that you can apply the category design principles to your individual career and creative work as well.


“Insert Complicated Title” by Virgil Abloh – Lecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design

“Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets” by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney