Charles & Ray Eames’ “Advice to Students”



In preparation for a 1949 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles on “Advice for Students,” Charles made the following notes on inspiration, methodology, and career strategy. They are excerpted here from An Eames Anthology:


Make a list of books
Develop a curiosity
Look at things as though for the first time
Think of things in relation to each other
Always think of the next larger thing
Avoid the “pat” answer—the formula
Avoid the preconceived idea
Study well objects made past recent and ancient but never without the technological and social conditions responsible
Prepare yourself to search out the true need—physical, psychological
Prepare yourself to intelligently fill that need

The art is not something you apply to your work
The art is the way you do your work, a result of your attitude toward it

Design is a full time job
It is the way you look at politics, funny papers, listen to music, raise children
Art is not a thing in a vacuum—
No personal signature
Economy of material
Avoid the contrived

Apprentice system and why it is impractical for them
No office wants to add another prima donna to its staff
No office is looking for a great creative genius
No office—or at least very few—can train employees from scratch
There is always a need for anyone that can do a simple job thoroughly

There are things you can do to prepare yourself—to be desirable
orderly work habits
ability to bring any job to a conclusion
drawing feasibility lettering
a presentation that “reads” well
willingness to do outside work and study on a problem . . .

Primitive spear is not the work of an individual nor is a good tool or utensil.
To be a good designer you must be a good engineer in every sense: curious, inquisitive.
I am interested in course because I have great faith in the engineer, but to those who are serious
(avoid putting on art hat) Boulder Dam all’s great not due engineer

By the nature of his problems the engineer has high percentage of known factors relatively little left to intuition
(the chemical engineer asking if he should call in Sulphur)

Source: Charles Eames, handwritten notes on talks at University of California, Los Angeles, January 1949, Part II: Speeches and Writings series, Charles and Ray Eames Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



John Cussans is giving a talk entitled:

The Mythopoesis of Bois Caïman and the Romance of Revolutionary Vodou

at Goldsmiths College on Wednesday from 17:00 – 19:00.

Event link is here, and details are below, but if you are interested in thinking about questions of zombies and their roots in Haiti, and relations to slavery and rebellion, this will be very useful and interesting for you.

John Cussans – The Mythopoesis of Bois Caïman and the Romance of Revolutionary Vodou

Wednesday 11th March


Richard Hoggart Building (RHB) 256

John Cussans (Associate Research Fellow, Visual Cultures) is an artist, writer and independent researcher with a background in graphic design, illustration and art theory whose practice crosses video, text, image-making and cultural history. Since 2009 he has been involved with the Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, working with the Haitian video collective Tele Geto. He has exhibited at a number of galleries internationally and his writing has been published in several collections and journals (Frozen Tears, Strange Attractor, Transmission Annual). He is currently writing a book about representations of Haiti and vodou in western popular culture (Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex).

The ceremony of Bois Caïman of August 1791 is regarded by many to be the founding event of the Haitian Revolution which ultimately culminated in the first slavery-free, independent republic of the modern world. Since the 19th century the role of vodou in the ceremony has been used to affirm an essential Black and African dimension to the proceedings that has been put to the service of various forms of Haitian nationalism and historical myth-building. This presentation will discuss the historical mythopoesis of the Bois Caïman ceremony during the 1920’s and 30’s and how it was used to support a romance of revolutionary vodou that has been used by both Left and Right wing political movements within and outside of Haiti.

The event is free and no booking is required. All welcome

Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, SE14 6NW London, United Kingdom

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