The BYU graphic design alum and Punchcut cofounder shared advice for an innovative career with students in the College of Fine Arts and Communications
Whether he’s choosing a phone, pitching a business strategy or simply ordering lunch, Jared Benson can always be found trying something new.
An alum of BYU’s graphic design program turned creative director, Benson visited campus on Oct. 17 to present “Lessons Learned from a Creative Career” in a Homecoming week lecture. Benson addressed students across the College of Fine Arts and Communications, offering advice from his experiences as an innovator in his field and a cofounder of Punchcut, a digital product design agency which extends this call to prospective team members: futurists wanted.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the future, with what’s next,” said Benson. “I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with creative people and great clients, and we’ve been able to focus on the future and on the changing landscape around us.”
When Benson graduated from BYU in 2000, websites and flip phones were just emerging in their fledgling forms, and many of the platforms and technologies students take for granted today had yet to be invented.
“The world has changed a tremendous amount since I came to BYU,” said Benson. “But when you look back 20 years, the leaps you will see and experience in your lifetime will be so much greater than the 20 years I see. That rate of change is happening faster and faster than ever.”
Much of Benson’s success as both a designer and an executive has stemmed from his willingness to embrace change and apply exponential thinking to his plans for the future.
“We have to think bigger and open our minds to how much our lives are going to change,” said Benson. “Whatever your major, you will be applying the things you learn here at BYU in ways you can’t even imagine, to fields and jobs and projects that don’t exist today.”
But the most impactful leaders and innovators in any industry do more than simply anticipate and adapt to the future, Benson suggested — they create it.
“The future doesn’t exist yet,” he said. “It’s not something that’s out there and we just have to figure out how to form ourselves to meet it; that’s not how it works. We shape the future. We cause the future. You will shape the future by the creative ideas you’ll put into the world and the stories that you choose to tell, whether through theatre, dance, broadcast, design or music. You’ll shape the future by the way you engage with people out in the world as a disciple of Christ.”
Many of the greatest developments and solutions the world has seen over the last hundred years have come from companies and creators who dared to tread different paths and take a leap of faith into the future.
“The future — like creativity — follows non-linear paths,” said Benson. “You need to have a certain sense of optimism and resourcefulness and be willing to zig when others zag.”
Stepping away from convention or dogma can be intimidating, but you won’t be doing it alone, Benson stressed. Throughout his career, Benson has continually found that many brains are better than one; creativity typically isn’t a solo endeavor. A diverse team representing various backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives will always have new ideas and approaches to offer — if you’re willing to listen to each other.
“If you want to be understood, you should understand first,” said Benson. “You should listen and honor the perspectives of everybody around you, because you will learn from them and you will help each other grow.”
Benson emphasized the power behind these types of collaborative efforts and the responsibility students in all majors have to be an ambassador for God in their work and creative relationships.
“I’ll leave you with two questions,” he closed. “How will you go forth to serve and take your talent to the world? How will you make the future a better place?”