Eye on Design conference 2017: Education panel. From L-R: Eric Hu, Hassan Rahim, Erik Brandt. Photograph: Frank L Aymami III.

What’s interesting about being a graphic designer is that what you do is always changing, whether it’s because you’re a freelancer tackling new clients and subject matters every month, or because you’re working in-house navigating new tools and technologies. It’s one of many reasons that the matter of teaching graphic design has historically been such a tricky one: debated, dissected, and discussed by professionals and educators for decades upon decades.

Here to add their points of view to the mix are three very different designers from three very different backgrounds. Eric Hu, design director at Ssense; art director, artist, and designer Hassan Rahim; and graphic designer and educator Erik Brandt, all have a lot to say when it comes to how they learned and how others—whether in school, or at home teaching themselves—can do the same. At last October’s inaugural Eye on Design Conference in Minneapolis, they took to the stage to think about what design education is actually for, and how we should all go about it.

Together, they answer questions that are useful for anyone entering or navigating the field: Is it true that the most important thing is to love what you do, and do what you love? How can you combine the things that you care most passionately about into a career as a designer? And what do you do if you don’t see yourself represented in the history of the discipline, or even in the workplace, for that matter? Moderated by our very own Emily Gosling, these are wise words from wise designers: