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Graduation Speaker: Adam Kingman, Alum

Submitted on June 26, 2022 - 1:52pm
Adam Kingman in a shop, wearing a camouflage button-up shirt with a denim apron
Adam Kingman; photo by Evans Vestal Ward

Adam Kingman received his Bachelor of Design degree in Industrial Design in 2014. He won the third season of Making It, a television competition, in 2021. The College of Arts & Sciences published a story about his win in early 2022.

The School invited Kingman to speak at our Graduation Celebration in June 2022. Below is an outline of his presentation.


My name is Adam Kingman.

Being at UW was one of the most creative seasons in my life. I graduated from the design program in 2014, and, over the past eight years, my creativity has experienced many highs and many lows. So, this morning I’d like to share a few suggestions to keep your mind, your ideas, and your creativity in check.

Adam’s Ten Tips for Tomorrow (because today you can rest / party).

No. 1: keep a journal.

  • And write it in every day.
  • Journaling is kind of like blowing your nose. you don’t know what’s going to come out.
  • You can include sketches, doodles, ideas, dreams.
  • Putting pen to paper allows your thoughts to get out of your head.
  • Write down everything you know to figure out what you don’t.
  • Give it a try even if you don’t think you can write or draw.

No. 2: make checklists.

  • They keep you on track.
  • They keep you focused.
  • If you aim at nothing, you hit nothing.
  • Be mindful and always be thinking about how to allocate your energy.

No. 3: stay curious & ask questions.

  • “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” — Bill Nye
  • Everyone is an expert in something.

No. 4: put yourself (and your ideas) out there.

  • I’ve never gotten a job I’ve applied for. Everything has always been word of mouth.
  • You have nothing to lose.
  • Instagram / TikTok / social media, sure! But don’t be afraid to go analog.
  • My favorite projects are the ones no one asked me to do. They were the ones where I finally gave in and gave myself permission to go for it.

No. 5: learn to say no, set boundaries, protect your time; all of which means invest in yourself.

  • We spend so much of our time working on other people’s projects, ideas, and dreams.
  • I found myself in my career spread WAY too thin. I’m a people pleaser.
  • Be sure to save a little bit of time for your own dreams, your own growth, your own progression.
  • Saying yes too often sacrifices your work, and you find yourself asking, “Wait why am I doing this? I’ve totally lost sight if what I love.”

No. 6: have a (super-secret) side hustle.

  • Because of school and work and social media, it often feels like everything we make needs to be showcased.
  • Free yourself from the pressure to perform.
  • Work on something where no one can tell you what to do, what it is, or what it is not.
  • Do it just for you. Make a moniker even.
  • You’ll remind yourself how wildly brilliant you are.

No. 7: don’t wait for the perfect wave.

  • Something is always better than nothing.
  • I’m a perfectionist. I’d sit on so many ideas for most of my life, so I keep kicking myself saying, “just go for it!”

No. 8: fail often; success is built on mistakes.

  • Cry 30.
  • We learn, we keep going.
  • There’s no crying in baseball, but there might be a little bit of crying in design, and that’s okay.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • We all make mistakes.

No. 9: have fun & enjoy the process (process is greater than perception).

  • You must love the process.
  • If you can’t wait until it’s over, you’re doing the wrong thing.
  • If you want to be a writer but don’t like writing, somethings off.
  • It’s the small steps you love doing that build the things you’re most proud of.
  • Passion is contagious. If you do what you love, people will notice, and they will cheer you on.

No. 10: pull (inspo) from your past.

  • Making it: I was on this TV show. Some of you have seen it. If you haven’t, it’s on Hulu.
  • So many of those crafts I made back at UW, just playing around at my desk in the studio.
  • It turns out that people really liked them. They loved the things I made when I was just playing, having a good time, in my element, in my flow state.

So graduates, no matter where life takes you, what challenge you find yourself facing — big or small — look back to your time here at UW, and you just might find exactly what you need.

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