Bracket Vol. 05: Hustle
Volume 05 features 16 individuals on making things happen
and what it means to hustle.
The art of making things happen. That's hustle.

It's funny how many ways we can use the word "hustle" in conversation. Its origins as street slang have produced a nuanced word, facetted in meaning, and purposefully a bit vague. It can be used to mean "being energetic", "coercion," or "hard work." It can describe the act of prostitution, drug dealing and even jazz. Linguists could have a field day with it.

There is one meaning, though, that transcends—and includes—all of the above. That meaning goes something like this: do whatever you've gotta do to make things happen.

It's what Rick Ross means when he tells us that everyday he's hustlin' or when Jay-Z reminds us not to "knock the hustle." For them, it's a point of pride. A raison d'être. The coordinates of this meaning are found somewhere between the tactical and the practical; the strategic and the unstoppable. It means pull out all the stops and go for it.

Those who have hustle thrive. It's a fire that burns in their belly. In fact, can you name a successful person who doesn't have some degree of it? I can't.

Hustling requires that you use verbs, lots and lots of them. Not in your speech, but in your actions. You'll need to move, think, iterate, extend, make tough calls and you'll need to do all of this rather quickly. You'll need to bend things like deadlines and probably even rules. You've got to push limits, expectations, boundaries, concepts, and people.

It's a lot of work to be a hustler.

One of the hardest parts of it is remaining optimistic in the face of adversity. Making things happen churns up the still waters of negativity within others and within yourself. Optimism is the hustler's unfair advantage, ennui his kryptonite.

Design, as a career, is a tremendously rewarding pursuit. But, its difficultly level is set to "expert mode" because the answers are continually qualitative, the playing field ever-changing, and the competition steadily increasing. If, years ago, someone would have told you that your role in the design world would require more than just talent, that it's an industry that employs youth before wisdom, that it's an extremely tough business, you'd probably have considered doing almost anything else. But you didn't, and here you are, and you're going to need to hustle.

Bracket No. 5 showcases a variety of hustle throughout the design world. This issue takes us to Tokyo where Torafu Architects describe hustle as being "completely satisfied". In Singapore, Chris Lee, at The Asylum, discusses the client's expectations of a project pitch and what happens when you experiment with that format. Kelley Cheng, at The Press Room, talks about hustle as the necessity of projecting an image of studio largess. In Taiwan, Wang Zhi Hong pegs hustle to the difference that formal recognition can make for a design practice. In Kuala Lumpur, Driv Loo sees it as the establishment of a studio. And, In Los Angeles, Spencer Nikosey views hustle as the patience required to work towards a project goal for years. Through the dedication to their design practices, the designers demonstrate the various facets of hustle.

Pay attention to the people in your world. The ones who've got hustle, they're the keepers. The ones worth investing in. The ones worth listening to and believing in. Be one of them.

Clifton Burt
Designer / Writer
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