Digital Design is a hugely complex medium.
To define that space Guy describes himself as an ‘independent designer and technologist’. And in our opinion leads the charge in beautiful work across technology. Not only that, but he’s also an incredibly nice person.
He took the time for us to ask him a few questions about how he makes things happen. And why he thinks he’s got to the place he has.
Here’s what he said…
Could you give us 3 tips that you’d say have got you to where you are today.
I think for me, it’s mainly come down to:
1) Working hard, but allowing myself room to play.
2) Being prepared when opportunities comes along and
3) Remembering to ask ‘why’ before starting new pieces of work.
By play, I mean finding a few hours here and there to explore creative outlets outside of my day job. These things help add another dimension to your work. And give you a sense of authorship too.
As far as finding good opportunities goes, I don’t believe in luck.
I can’t remember who said it, but this sums up how I perceive it, “luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”.
We make our own luck, we have to be prepared in the short time we have before opportunity strikes. And to remember to do it with a smile on our faces. No one wants to work with someone miserable or negative.
‘Why’ is a big one. It’s easy to just jump in and start thinking about the ‘how’ or ‘what’ of a design project. For me it’s vital to question why I am doing something first. And then to make sure it lines up with my view of the world and what it needs.
Why do you feel digital design is best suited to you as an art form? What excites you about it?
Design education at my school was pretty terrible. To be honest I didn’t know design was something that I might be good at until I was well into my mid twenties.
I actually started out studying English language and literature. I’d always loved drawing and graphics. But it was really when I became fascinated with the early internet, and where it might lead that I saw there was a huge opportunity for design as it was all so woeful back then.
I don’t really see digital design as an art form.
Digital design and art are quite separate in my mind.
I see design as the creation of systems to bring about change and improve the world. Art for me is more an exploration of what it is to be human and as an outlet for creativity for it’s own sake. Either way, I love them both.
I love the challenges digital design brings though.
Especially in technology as it gives us a chance to shape our future and change the present. We have a responsibility to do it well and with care.
Can you give us an idea of your average day, how you work and how you get your creative ideas done?
I’m currently very busy at a startup business in London working on the future of customisable clothing. So my average day is quite diverse!
A mix of sketching and planning work for the new website, prototyping interactions, meeting with designers we’ll collaborate with. Learning about fabrics and knitting and more…
When working at home, I’ve been focusing a bit more on making animations.
I have a side project called Moving, featuring one off animated artworks. Typically these start life as sketches or ideas and then I make them in Processing. I’m planning to write something up about this soon :)
With side projects I tend to explore things I want to learn through play. And then these evolve into bigger things that take on a live of their own.
I often find it’s these side projects that helps attract new work.
How do you attract new work?
I think it’s important to stay ahead of what’s happening in your discipline to be useful and employable.
I spend a fair bit of time reading articles/blogs, flicking through twitter, etc.
This helps me stay in tune with where the industry is heading and what’s happening. For around the last 10 years every job I have had has largely come through word of mouth.
Staying in touch with the people you work with past and present helps.
By hopefully being a good person and trying my best, I find people generally then want to work with you again. This is fairly basic stuff, but I think it goes a long way.
How long have you been in digital design and would you say it’s your career?
I’ve been working in design in some capacity now for about 13 years.
It does feel like my career yes, but I don’t necessarily see myself doing the same things in the future that I do now.
In fact, no doubt I won’t, everything is always in a state of change. I think the underlying principles of user centred design don’t change though.
We’re making things to empower and delight people and as I see it, there will always be a need for people who know how to deliver this, regardless of the medium.
Whats the best advice would you give to someone starting out?
Be influenced but don’t plagiarise.
It definitely pays to look at successful projects. Try to break them apart to understand what they are or why they were successful.
This is a great learning exercise and everyone does this to some extent.
Consume, consume, consume.
Read, explore, listen and just get out and experience art, culture, design as often as you can. It’s good to experience design in the broadest terms possible.
Too many people stare at screens and think that’s where it begins and ends.
Find the edges of something. Look for new problems that aren’t being well catered for or explored and dig into them. Use your time to explore and think about what you would do to make them better.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
There’s so many opinions around and so few that matter. Listen to what you know is true for you inside and be confident in it. We’re all different and that is good.
Stay optimistic. It can be hard, but optimism will always win out.