We at i3 Digital love immersing ourselves in the world of design and technology, especially when it’s right on our doorstep! It was only natural to attend the fringe event for Pixel Pioneers, held in the Black Box Belfast titled ‘An evening with Shopify’. Situated in the architecturally beautiful Cathedral Quarter of the city, it was a perfect venue for a small get together for creatives. Once home to other web communities like Refresh Belfast (which I have fond memories of) and the recently relocated Hustle Conference, it was only fitting for Pixel Pioneers and their sponsors Shopify to choose this venue for some much-needed design inspiration in our wee city.
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.
Kicking the evening off was Paul McKeever @paulmckeever, (of Design by Front fame), a very well known figure in the local design community. Paul told his story of working with design in three very different environments. Progressing from his own studio, through to the eureka moment of developing Typcast and onto adapting to a large company like when they were acquired by Monotype. I find hearing journeys like this fascinating. Learning from other people’s experiences such as their mistakes and the opportunities they embrace is extremely beneficial to our own progression. Understanding the mountains they climb to achieve their goals is inspiring. Sometimes it even creates a moment of clarity and takes the pressure off own criticisms. It’s refreshing to hear what is achievable and learn that nothing is out of reach as long as you apply yourself and work for it.
Paul shared an exceptional quote from Uri Levine (Co-founder of Waze)
“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”
Never losing sight of the problem, ensures how you develop the solution can remain more flexible, iterative and ultimately more likely to succeed.
Another speaker on the night who I found extremely educational was David Bailey @davidkiosk with his talk on ‘Further Together: Designing Culture Change’.
An immensely captivating speaker, who focused on the challenges he faced when combining strategy and culture in a large organisation such as the BBC.
The Global Experience Language (GEL).
He illustrated the structure and their use The Global Experience Language (GEL) the BBC’s shared design framework, which is similar to how we use frameworks and style guides in our own creative process, except on GEL it is on steroids! His coverage of GEL really encouraged us to think about how to further advance our own processes, our approach to collaboration and above all our efficiency. This is key for anyone in a position, that has the ambition to deliver effective solutions and is something we should all be trying to achieve.
When showcasing examples of his work, I was immediately impressed and enthralled. Artwork for the PlayStation game Wipeout 2097 and album artwork for ‘Window Licker’ by the fantastic Aphex Twin instantly captured my attention. I had admired these visuals for years, and right in front of me was the guy who had worked on them. Just mind-blowing!
Hearing of David’s journey from being a skateboarder, trying his hand at producing fanzines in the early days, starting his own studio (Kiosk). Progressing up the career ladder to a position at the much-admired Designer’s Republic and onto his current position of Creative Director of UX&D at the BBC was fascinating. His transparency and open honesty of admitting that he was learning to apply himself on the fly to these positions was truly inspiring. Definitely a trait many designs could avail of.
It’s perfectly fine to admit when you don’t know something. We are creative thinkers and are well equipped to learn new skills and adapt to new surrounds. Something we shouldn’t take for granted.
Learn, adapt, and strive to improve.
David encouraged us to be aware that being able to adapt to these environments relies heavily on our personalities. Whether introvert or extrovert, you need to be willing to simply try. Like a lot of aspects of becoming a good designer it’s not all about what you can do on paper or screens it’s also extremely important to be willing to learn, adapt, strive to improve and above all listen to those around you who have been there well before you.
We as designers often question ourselves about how to handle new projects, processes, and clients. Everything is new in the beginning, and this can be truly frightening. Though if you take control of it, and turn these fears of the unknown into challenges and rise to them it can be extremely rewarding.
Applying this mentality to our daily routine can be as small completing a quick online tutorial to better ourselves or having the confidence to get up and use that huge whiteboard in front of our peers.
Don’t be afraid to make that leap (or baby step)!
Stephen is one of our UX & Front-end Designers.
Chat to him at @itsmecurrie
Next up: What we learned at Pixel Pioneers Belfast.