What inspired you to go into design?
As far back as I can remember, I had this urge to create things. I don’t know why, but it always felt great to make stuff. I just followed that. It all started by creating and drawing games on paper while I was in elementary school and redrawing logos from magazines to my old computer when I was 14 (1996).
Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?
The usual suspects are Dribbble, Instagram, Sidebar.io, Twitter, Medium, Youtube. Lately, I began rediscovering old and new design books! For a couple of years, I’ve been using Panda Chrome extension, I love it and don’t get why everybody is using Muzli instead!?
We'll be sure to check it out! So what projects of your own are you particularly proud of?
I’m definitely the proudest of my Ableton Live redesign. You can read all about it on my website or download all the project files from the GitHub. I’m so happy how everything clicked together even though my initial goal was not achieved. It pinpointed a bunch of things I did wrong, I’ve learned so much, and it was very helpful on so many levels. I definitely encourage everyone to do things like this once in awhile.
I’m very proud of this project because it resonated with many designers, developers, start-ups, and even corporations. I got a lot of exposure and I made some cool new relationships. I like how the community reacted and how everybody helped and passionately participated.
Not everybody liked it, of course. It’s interesting how many people misunderstood this and thought I was trying to make a new Ableton Live’s UI. Me against the company working on a product for more than a decade?! Crazy. Yet, I see how easy it is to think something like that. There were a dozen of straight up haters which is also great because they are a clear sign you’re doing something right!
Are there any tools you swear by when working on big projects like that?
Pen and Paper, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator (however, I’m looking to switch to Sketch because it became the industry standard for UI design), Chrome DevTools, Brackets, Wacom tablet, Ableton Live, iPhone, MacBook Pro, iPad, NI Maschine, MicroKorg XL.
The thing about tools is that some are better, faster, industry standard, fresh, classic, inspirational, experimental and so on. Trying out different tools and finding the one optimal for the particular job is essential.
Tell us a little more about yourself. What do you like to do on your days off?
I love making beats. Music production and sound design are my passions alongside design. You can hear my latest project Time Pills on SoundCloud. You can also download the project files from GitHub if you’re interested in remixing our tracks.
I live and breathe design, though — I love reading design books, watching design tutorials, designing even when I’m not designing. I’m trying to travel more now that I have a privilege of working remotely (I’m doing this interview on the beach of Larnaca, Cyprus).
Wow, we're definitely jealous of your current location! You’re currently an Interaction and Interface Designer at Mixed In Key. What does that role actually entail?
The atmosphere is pretty much start-up like, I’m wearing a lot of hats as everybody else here. I’m currently doing UX/UI for the upcoming plugins we’re building. Working with devs on implementing the UI, testing stuff, building and designing a website, making a brand identity, doing research for the new app, collaborating with teammates in fixing UX problems of our older products. Hopefully will get involved in usability testing as well.
Working remotely is a challenge in itself, you have to be very self-disciplined. The great thing about working remotely is that you can work from your bedroom or kitchen if you want to. You can travel a lot more. Also, working just four days a week is a blessing.
We bet those extra-long weekends are quite welcome. Do you have any brands that continuously inspire you with their designs?
Obviously, I like what Apple is doing. Love Google and their products as well. Even though I’m slowly shifting to Dropbox for file backups, file sharing, and I’m writing this in Dropbox Paper instead of Google Docs. But I still love how Google changed their style, created and adopted their design system/language across all the apps. That’s huge.
Another one is obvious for me too: Ableton. I love how they figured that digital music creation tool should be more like an instrument and not simply an imitation of analog devices. I was pleasantly surprised how their Learning Music project was well designed and executed. The idea is again around learning to play “the instrument”. Brilliant.
Invision is coming up with a great ecosystem, have you seen a Sketch/Principle-like app they’re releasing soon called Invision Studio? It’s gonna be great.
Tell us about your first big project. What did you wish you knew before you started, and what did you learn coming out the other side of it?
My first (really) big project was Centili mobile payments. I was there from the beginning and had a great time, learned a lot, and had an impact (reaching over 4 billion users in more than 80 countries). I learned how to work in teams and how to communicate my ideas better, and generally what it means to work for a big corporation. What I wish I knew then is that I should have left the company the moment I started feeling unhappy.
What advice do you have for designers that are new in their career but looking to grow?
1. Ask questions — and question everything.
2. Use pen and paper first.
3. Make plans, frameworks and to-do lists, set deadlines, and organize as much as possible.
4. Don’t invent the wheel (too often).
5. Learn how to talk with different people.
6. Learn presentation skills.
7. Don’t work harder—work smarter!
8. Go wide but be focused. Be a T-shaped person.
9. Change companies, teams, cities… whatever, until you find the one you love.
10. Learn to say no.
What quote motivates you in your work?
I struggle with this one so I’m trying to repeat this as many times a day as humanly possible: “Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove,” from Antoine de Saint Exupéry. Or this similar one from Dieter Rams: “Good design is as little design as possible."
Any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
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