Stephen Clements


Stephen Clements is the Chief Creative Officer at YML, where he oversees all digital product design and manages a team of 55 designers. Formerly Co-Founder of Junior: the Rapid Invention Company, a product design accelerator for big brands, and before that, Executive Creative Director for AKQA, San Francisco, Stephen has over 15 years industry experience working at the top of the game. An accomplished product design and innovation leader, he created breakthrough work for brands such as Activision, Anheuser-Busch, Audi, eBay, Jordan, Levi’s, NVIDIA, Verizon, Visa, Xbox, and YouTube to name a few. Among his innovative projects: he helped bring the 10k race to London for Nike by way of Nike Run London; he created the future of the tv interface for Xbox 360, and helped design and launch XboxLIVE; he reimagined the automotive digital ecosystem for Audi USA; and he made “the world’s coolest basketball court” for Nike’s Jordan at the All Star Weekend in New York. Stephen’s work has featured in Wired, Forbes, BBC, WSJ, PSFK, the New York Times, and USA Today. His efforts have been recognized in global awards including Cannes, One Show, ADC, D&AD, the Addys, the Webbys, and the Effies. In his free time, Stephen likes surfing, rock climbing, Burningman (don’t ask), and art shows. Prior to all this, Stephen was an architect. And he’s from England.

As a practical matter, has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?

COVID has undeniably made an impact because it’s not just work from home. It’s everything from home. My prediction is remote work is here to stay and distributed teams that embrace it will have the pick of the best talent in the world — wherever they might be. Of course, this means the challenge will be building and maintaining culture, and a slew of tools and methodologies will emerge to do it.

What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?

Going forward, I hope designers across the spectrum will keep in mind that ‘No’ is not the enemy. ‘No’ is how we get better. Take every rejection as a learning opportunity. And similarly, take these culturally heavy, intense, meaningful moments in our society as opportunities to learn and empathize with people. The best designers I’ve worked with share one trait — the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the person they’re designing for.