From a personal newsletter to a longstanding publication — DESK is 5 years old

Tobias van Schneider
5 min readNov 3, 2021

I’ll be honest. Staying consistent with a personal publication like DESK can be a challenge. And sometimes I don’t. Yet here we are another year and hundreds of articles later.

This past year was an eventful one. We published nearly 100 articles. We worked with several great partners, including Pitch, The New School, Hyper Island and Around. We moved our entire blog from WordPress to Ghost. And with it, we created a more exclusive level of DESK for our most loyal readers.

Admittedly, we wanted to do even more. It’s our plan to publish more articles and bring more value to our Club members. To partner with more fantastic products and companies, and publish more articles that speak to the creative mind. And if the last five years are any indication, we will.

This year was about finding the balance between quality and quantity, and learning to walk the line between writing articles that mean something to us while also resonating with our readers. Along the way, we’ve published a few pieces that seemed to strike a chord.

These are the most-read DESK articles of the last year.

1. Dear Young Designer

I wasn’t expecting the response this article received, but it just goes to show we’re not alone in our insecurities, fears and challenges.

Here I wrote down a few things I wish someone would’ve told me when I started out in design. From me, to all the young designers just starting out, or people pursuing a new career in design. And maybe even for those who have been in the business for a while already.

This is for you.

Read the article →

2. How to make a portfolio when you don’t have any work to show

Everyone says you need an online portfolio as a creative, but what if you don’t have any work to put in it?

Read the article →

3. Got NFT? Crypto art for dummies

When I wrote this at the beginning of the year, crypto art and NFTs were just coming into public conversations. Now you’d have to be living underground to not know about them. But just in case you spent 2021 in your bunker (I wouldn’t blame you), here’s your easy intro to NFTs and the world of crypto art.

Read the article →

(P.S. I think this article I wrote became even more relevant in light of the NFT craze. You might want to read that one too.)

4. Finally, a meeting tool that considers how remote teams actually work

Thanks to 2020, the world has gone remote without looking back. And with this era, it’s time to improve how we collaborate online. A better meeting tool is a good place to start.

In partnership with Around, we explored how its meeting tool for creative teams aims to eliminate the “fatigue” of meeting all day, every day online.

Read the article →

5. The future is looking a lot like the past: The return of Y2K aesthetic

The backlash against minimalism has sent 2020, once considered “the future,” searching for inspiration in the past. Specifically, to the year 2000.

After a decade or two of cold, sterile minimalism, we are returning to the personal, the colorful, the indulgent, the excessive — the heart.

And I’m fully here for it.

Read the article →

6. Little portfolio tricks for new designers

When you’re just starting out, creating your portfolio is a challenge. You don’t have many projects to work with yet. You’re not sure how to position yourself for the job you want — or if you even know what job you want. You can recognize a nicely designed site when you see one, but anything you make doesn’t live up to your own standards.

Here I share a few little tricks to make your entry-level portfolio look more like a senior portfolio.

Read the article →

7. The old artist couldn’t sell their work. The new artist sells their soul.

Today’s artist has skills in marketing, self-promotion and branding. They don’t just create art. They build a brand around their work. They portray a certain lifestyle. They have a presence online. The most successful of these artists play a role that would have sent “traditional” artists to their grave: they are influencers.

Read the article →

8. The best investment you can make as a creative

It’s the trendy new thing to buy into a company, currency or piece of art (see: The NFT article above). Investing has become more accessible, so we’re all rolling the dice and hoping we get lucky. But for those who do creative work, there’s a safer bet.

Read the article →

9. How to write an article

I get a lot of questions about my writing process. I sat down to write the standard tips, then realized I don’t have anything revelatory to share. This is where I landed.

Read the article →

10. 6 cheats to make your portfolio look redesigned — without actually doing anything

A good portfolio is a current portfolio. But undertaking a full redesign every year feels daunting. Thankfully, that’s not necessary.

Read the article →

Here’s to many more drafts, friendships with great partners, experiments both successful and unsuccessful, and articles that encourage and challenge the creative community.


I’m Tobias, designer and co-founder of Semplice, mymind and Carbonmade. If you enjoy my writing, please check out some of the products I’m working on. Or if you want to just keep reading, you can do that on my blog called DESK.