Fourteen amazing interviews with designers of all stripes, each one full of brilliant insights into how great careers are made in digital media.

Read tales of hard work, odd coincidences, fortuitous timing, personal networks—and dumb luck.

For anyone thinking about the trajectory of their design career in the midst of continual technological change, How They Got There is an eye-opening playbook full of valuable lessons.

Featuring Interviews with…

Dan Cederholm of Dribbble
On how Dribbble is like the rock band he always wanted.
Alex Cornell of Firespotter Labs
On dropping out of college to co-found a company with startup veterans from Google.
Nicholas Felton of Daytum
On forging a career in infographics for editorial and digital products.
Agnieszka Gasparska of Kiss Me I’m Polish
On building an enduring independent design studio by yourself.
Cemre Güngör of Branch
On switching countries and careers on the way to building a company that was ultimately acquired by Facebook.
Erika Hall of Mule Design
On building an enduring design studio from the remnants of the dot-com crash.
Naz Hamid of Weightshift
On the challenges and joys of an independent design practice.
Karen McGrane of Bond Art+Science
On being a perpetual pioneer throughout multiple waves of digital change.
Wilson Miner of The Factory
On finding new opportunities among multiple startups and big tech companies to satisfy restless curiosity.
Jill Nussbaum of The Barbarian Group
On the through lines between fine art and building digital products.
Evan Sharp of Pinterest
On how a passion for architecture underscores designing products and building companies.
Geoff Teehan of Teehan+Lax
On how forming key relationships can inform career trajectories.
Justin Van Slembrouck of Digg
On the pros and cons of transitioning from independent practice to collaborative environments.
Marcos Weskamp of Flipboard
On the importance of finding the right groups, companies and even countries to nurture your career within.
With an Introduction by Liz Danzico
Chair, MFA Interaction Design at The School of Visual Arts

Who should read this book?

Designers just starting out, looking for their first big breaks, and preparing to go the distance in digital design
Career veterans considering a change from print to digital, or from services to products and vice versa
Executives and design managers seeking to understand what motivates the best designers to produce their best work

What people are saying about

How They Got There

Khoi Vinh has never met a void he couldn’t fill—brilliantly. In How They Got There, he rounds up some of the smartest designers of our time to share what most design schools forget to teach—namely, how to design your career.

Jeffrey Zeldman
Happy Cog

How They Got There is the story about the alchemical intersection of desire and happenstance in building a career in digital design. Young designers: read and take heart, your time is at hand whether you believe it or not.

Jason Kottke

There is nothing better than learning by experience. The next best thing is learning from someone else’s experience. This book gives you the chance to do just that, 14 times over. Get learning.

Michael Bierut

“A rather fantastic digest of flops, miscues, and unexpected pivots that led to some pretty remarkable careers.”

Cameron Moll
Authentic Jobs

There is nothing better than learning by experience. The next best thing is learning from someone else’s experience. This book gives you the chance to do just that, 14 times over. Get learning.

Scott Belsky
Behance & Adobe

“This book has heart. Simply put, it embroiders together a collection of spirited human stories about the career journey. A sweet gift for those just beginning. A good read for those who love Design.”

Judy Wert
Wert & Co.

How They Got There captures the beautiful confusion in the career arcs of many successful designers. This must-read reminds us that even giants are human.

Kelly Sutton
Layer Vault & Designer News

Combining art and commerce, dialogue and debate, education, inspiration and no shortage of perspiration, Khoi Vinh’s new book is essential reading for any young designer wondering about what the future holds—and how to get there.

Jessica Helfand
Designer, Writer and Educator

Contrary to popular mythology, as these in-depth interviews show, digital designers are normal people. What makes them different is that they inhabit a world of speed-of-light change, and the constant challenge of the new.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Unit Editions

Khoi goes beyond the glossy surface of ‘success stories’ and shows us how closely success and failure are related. Encouraging to read, especially for those of us who just winged it, like myself.

Erik Spiekermann

Khoi Vinh is a designer, writer, entrepreneur and one of Fast Co’s “50 Most Influential Designers in America.” He is currently VP of User Experience at Wildcard, and co-creator of Kidpost. Previously, he was co-founder of Mixel, a groundbreaking mobile startup, and digital design director for The New York Times. He writes a widely read blog on design and technology at