SXSWORLD March Film + Interactive 2013


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Designer Tina Roth Eisenberg Knows How to Succeed Fast — and Repeat JULIA ROBBS by Michael Trice Tina Roth Eisenberg logger. Global lecture series founder. Co-working innovator. App builder. Temporary tattoo maker. Tina Roth Eisenberg has built a career around incorporating new achievements into synonyms for design entrepreneurship: "Some call me the queen of accidental businesses, but I would call myself a graphic designer with an entrepreneurial heart and a passion for 'fixing' things." Eisenberg fixes a lot of things and shares insights into the need fulfilled by each of her "accidental" businesses and intentional fixes: "Swissmiss was my way to keep track of my daily findings. Granted this was pre-Tumblr, pre-Pinterest. CreativeMornings was my response to the conference world … wanting an accessible, monthly event series that lets me meet up with my community. Studiomate was my way of setting up an ideal work environment. TeuxDeux is my response to dealing with daily to-dos (in app form). Tattly was my way of making sure my kids don't have to wear badly designed temporary tattoos." It is an impressive list influenced by a certain strict design mentality. "I see a problem," she explains. "I proceed to wanting to fix the problem. I get to work. I iterate. I iterate some more. I launch it. I start over." Good design. Good business. Fast success. It seems fitting that someone as diversely talented as Eisenberg started out working on a project like the Visual Thesaurus. This sleek digital word tool, which allows users to see a variety of related words bloom from one another, matches the intense diversity of the individual behind its user interface design. "I was hired by Thinkmap (at the time called Plumb Design) in 2002 and was thrilled when they put me in charge of branding and updating the UI of the Visual Thesaurus," Eisenberg says of her early days at Thinkmap. "While I love everything virtual and digital, I was thrilled I got to design a tangible product that ended up on store shelves. As someone who is into words and user interfaces, it was a dream come true. And it's safe to say that working on Visual Thesaurus has been one of the most exciting projects I've ever worked on before I started my own companies." 34 SXSWORLD / MARCH FILM-IA 2013 Those businesses of her own have been plenty exciting as well, even if entrepreneurship had a steep learning curve. "Obviously, it's always different to work on your own product than on someone else's idea," Eisenberg says. "Looking back, I had no idea what it takes to create a product from scratch, making sure there's enough cash in the bank to pay everyone. I have lots of respect for the Thinkmap founders. Everyone should at some point run their own business; then, if they take a job again, be a much more understanding and appreciative employee." Not that the steep curve was a problem Eisenberg could not fix. Not only did she start a highly successful blog as a way to help collect her own thoughts and discoveries, but her desire for a bigger community led to CreativeMornings. The site now has listings across several continents. Has that had led to an increased international following for Eisenberg? "Not sure, never measured it," she admits. "I just know that there are over 6,000 people meeting up monthly around the globe, because of a local event I started here in New York City. This makes me all kinds of happy. " But it isn't just the global community that inspires her. She draws plenty of inspiration from some hyperlocal sources as well. "My kids keep me grounded and make me appreciate the simple things in life. My daughter is proud of the fact that it was because of her that I started Tattly. She asks a lot of questions about what I do at Tattly and if I like what I do. Getting her thinking 'entrepreneurially' at her age (6) is powerful. The other day, she said, 'Why should I sell Girl Scout cookies if I could sell my own!' You can probably imagine how big the smile on my face was." The Swissmiss doesn't just keep it in the family though. She's happy to explain what Swiss design has taught her across all of her businesses: "Embrace white space. Trust the grid. Simplicity is king." And if you happen to be an aspiring designer of any sort looking for advice, she has a bit more: "Always try to do your best work. Never settle for the first best thing. Always over-deliver." SXSW Interactive registrants can get a first-hand look at how Eisenberg's need to fix problems plays out. When asked about her SXSW appearance, she explains: "In my talk, I will be touching upon the importance of side projects and eccentric aunts. I will share a few simple rules I follow in my day-to-day, as a mom, entrepreneur, and friend." ■ Tina Roth Eisenberg will deliver the Sunday keynote address at SXSW Interactive today (Sunday, March 10) at 2pm in Exhibit Hall 5 of the Austin Convention Center.

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