For those of you that don’t know Adam, he working at Big Drop Inc. He’s been in the UK for coming on a year now, before which he lived in Dubai for four years working as a web designer for various companies. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, he holds a formal degree in Fashion Design, and has a love for Pandas, Vinyl Art Toys and Jaffa Cakes.
I would assume as a designer that at one point you started out with no knowledge. What 3 tips would you give to someone who might be in the position you were many years ago?
Oh definitely, as with most things you start at the bottom and slowly work your way up.
The first piece of advice is to surround yourself, be it in real life through meetups or online via Twitter and design-oriented social communities like Dribbble, with people who are passionate about what they do in your chosen field. Passion is contagious and just by hanging around them and listening to what they have to say, you will learn more than you’d imagine.
Next, learn by doing. If you aren’t sure how a header was built on a website, inspect the code and then replicate (not copy + paste) what you see. The simple act of retyping the structure and style is a tremendous learning tool.
Lastly, don’t be a dick. Having confidence in what you do is great, but leave your ego at the door. The best way to learn in this community is by chatting to other people and going in with an attitude is the best way to limit your interaction with these people.
Are you self-taught or trained by some satanic beast? If self-taught, has this had any impact on your ability to get a job in the industry that you love?
I am completely self taught and proud of it. Having no formal training has been a stumbling block in the past for sure, but as my career progresses I’m meeting more and more people to whom this means little or nothing, and righty so. Having a degree is important in some (most) fields, but I think it’s largely irrelevant when it comes to web design. Passion for what you do is all you need really – the rest will follow.
You seem to be quite into icon design, but also dabble with some UI mockups, are icons an area of design that you see yourself specialising in, or are you wanting to remain completely open to everything?
While I love designing icons, it’s not something I would want to specialise in. I don’t want to specialise in any single design discipline to be honest. I’d rather be good at a few things than great at one because I get bored very easily, so having a few different things on the go at one time keeps me happy (and busy).
You have just released some pretty awesome weather pictographs called ‘Climacons’, can you tell us a bit about them – what inspired you to do them and how long did they take?
Thank you very much – I couldn’t be happier with Climacons and the response they have received so far has been overwhelming. Climacons actually started out as an idea for a simple weather app UI I wanted to design for practice. The initial idea was just to create two icons for this mockapp: a sun and a cloud. Once those two were done I decided to add a few more to the pool, just so if the design required, I would have some extra resources to pull from. The result was 8 icons which I previewed on Dribbbleimaginatively titled ‘Weather Icons’. The response surprised me. Within a few hours of posting, the shot was on Dribbble’s front page! At this point I was having so much fun with these icons, I decided to keep going. I added a few more each evening until I got to where Climacons sits now: 75 icons.
I’ve been approached by a few people already who’d like to use the icons for their own apps, so that’s tremendously exciting for me.
I know I won’t be alone in asking this but – Why didn’t you charge for the Climacons? Or at least asked for a small donation!?
Climacons started out as a few resources for a larger project, so from the very outset there was no thought for monetary reward and this remained even as the project grew. It was only until afterwards when I heard a few people telling me I should have / could have charged for them that I even thought about it.
I’ve worked on a few things for & with you – is there anyone (or a group of people perhaps) that you’d like to work with on a project, if so – who & why?
Yeah, you’ve been an incredible help over the past with things like Sapling (now defunct) and most recently with my new website. As a side note for the people who aren’t aware or haven’t snooped around the code: the header image on my homepage comes right from my Instagram feed. My attempts to wrangle the API into submission were failing dismally so Michael very kindly helped me out!
As far as working with other people, I’m not sure really. I don’t have a list or anything so it’s hard to say. I’d welcome any opportunity to work with just about anyone out there.
I find inspirational people don’t seem to occur in the development world – there isn’t anyone in particular that I aspire to be like. However, in the design world I think it’s different, is there anyone that you look up to – either for their work, or for their knowledge, or anything else?
Oh man, that’s a tricky one as I look up to people for many different reasons. In terms of attitude to life I’d have to say Kyle Steed, Brenton Clarke and Rogie King stand out most because they are all insanely talented but so humble. In terms of design style I’d say Tim Boelaars, Matt Kaufenberg, Nick Slater and Justin Mezzell are all turning out incredible work lately. I feel weird singling these people out as there are so many more…
Following people on Twitter is super cool, but I always struggle to find people that are interesting, engage with their followers but also aren’t dicks. Do you have any suggestions for people to follow?
I have an ofttimes strange relationship with Twitter. There are times when I wonder why I use it and more importantly why anyone cares enough of what I say or do to follow me (to those who do, thank you very much, even though I’m not sure why!). Twitter can be a dangerous thing to some – I have seen a marked change in a few people I’ve been following after gaining a level of notoriety within the community. It’s a pity really. I tend to follow people not for who they are or where they stand in the web community, but rather who they are as humans.
I know Joshua Hibbert really loves taking some time away from the internet, to relax, unwind and enjoy the beautiful Australian country (I’m jealous of him!), but what do you do to unwind? Do you escape to the ‘beautiful’ English countryside, or are you a slave to the technological world?
Lately I’m finding I want to get away from the internet in my off-time more and more. I’m lucky enough to live in the countryside already, so I’m surrounded by parks and woods so there are plenty of ways I can (and do) get out for a while.
Is there anything that you want to sign off with?
Thanks for wanting to chat to me! I’m working on a few things, none of which are really earth-shattering (laughs) but I can say that Climacons has a TTF and @Font-face kit in the works, as well as the addition of a few more icons people have suggested to me.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my rambling questions. Just before we finish, where on the internet can people find you & what is the best way to get in touch?