Tell us a bit about what you do here at 50onRed.
Well, I’m the Senior Designer here at 50, so that should just about explain everything. Thanks for the talk, see you later!
Kidding, kidding! I handle most of the design that is public-facing. For example, I put together 50onRed.com, work on various print materials that we hand out to clients or prospective employees, design the release emails we send out to our advertisers when we add new features or update the platform, and there’s a little dash of product design for our publishers.
I’m a bit of a Swiss Army knife, but I have a knack for juggling multiple small projects at a time.
So you’re the man behind the website!
Well, now I just feel like whoever is reading this is judging me!
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on at 50onRed?
It’s always fun and frightening to work on a medium you’ve never touched before. Since I work closely with our Recruiting team, we’re always trying to brainstorm cool swag to give out to people who give us the time of day at trade shows, sponsored events, job fairs, etc. Through those efforts, I’ve designed an energy drink label, energy shot label, gambling chip, drink coasters, playing card backing, party backdrops, and banners of all exotic shapes and sizes.
It takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to think about the composition a little differently. I can’t lie–It’s also cool to have a physical object in your hand and say, “I designed this.”.
You recently presented an app you’ve been working on at our company Show and Tell. Want to tell us about it?
Sure! It wasn’t anything too complex or laborious. I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 13, and carb counting is one method of calculating how much insulin you need to take with each meal. It’s some simple addition, subtraction, and division of a handful or variables such as current blood sugar, carbs you’re eating, your personalized insulin to carb ratio, your target blood sugar, and which meal of the day you’re consuming (You might require a higher insulin to carb ratio for dinner than you do for lunch, for example.).
Tracking that on paper isn’t fun. At all. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually bust out printouts and a pen when I’m sitting down at a restaurant. If you do, my apologies.
Besides straight design, I also do a light amount of front end work (HTML, CSS, JS, PHP). So I figured, why not just make a handy little web app that takes what my blood sugar is, how many carbs I’m eating, and tells me point blank, “Hey, dummy, take 8 units of insulin!”? It was just a fun little weekend project. Not exactly something I plan to release to the public to become the next tech multi-millionaire. You can see more of it here.
When you’re having a creativity block, how do you get unstuck?
It can be really helpful to just step away for a bit. You can get blinded by design, and just rebooting your brain could make you see a canvas with a completely different perspective. I think, more often than not, forced design reeks of its true self.
You’re the proud owner of two corgis, Pita and Tzatziki. What’s the story behind their names?
They’re badass? When I first wanted to get a dog, I had all these ideas for really ridiculous names, like “Teddy Roosevelt Pancakes”. “Bazooka” was another. My better half grounded me and told me I need to go back to the drawing board. We both love Greek food and, while brainstorming dog names, “Tzatziki” came out, and we thought it was a fantastic name. On Tzatziki’s third birthday, we got a call from our local SPCA that a purebred corgi was picked up wandering the streets. Nothing in the world could make us say no to that. When it came to naming her, we just went along the same mindset and went with “Pita”.
“Baba Ghanoush” is already on deck for the name of our next dog.
Do you have any advice for designers looking to break into the industry?
Way to save the most complex question for last! I’ve interviewed my fair share of designers, and I think the two biggest things that factor into what makes a good candidate is their previous work and how well they can work in a team environment.
When it comes to design, the proof is in the pudding. You can have your Master’s degree, but if you don’t have the portfolio to back it up, I’d prefer to go with the high school dropout that has some killer work behind them. I suggest trying to get pieces you’re proud of up on a site other designers and recruiters can see, like Behance or dribbble. A lot of designers also design gorgeous case studies about projects that they’ve worked on, which can show that, not only does someone know how to design, say a website, but they also know how to present their work to an outside audience.
Also, at least here at 50onRed, it’s important that, as a designer, you’re comfortable working with a team. You might have to go through wireframes with a team and have a discussion about what the best UX is. Or be comfortable passing your designs onto an engineering team, continuing the conversation throughout the development process to make sure the final product behaves as intended.
Another thing that never harms a fellow designer is keeping in touch with whatever design community exists around you. Philadelphia is just awesome when it comes to the local design and technology scene, and meet ups–where knowledge-sharing benefits everyone–are happening all the time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in every town. You can always find your tribe online (Check out Designer News, for starters.), or try to travel once every couple of months to a conference in a bigger city. Better yet, start your own meet up!
Want to learn more about 50onRed and see what opportunities we have available? Head over to our Careers page.