What do you do?
I’m a senior product designer for the Behance team at Adobe, designing products that empower creatives who use our platform.
What led you into design?
I didn't start out with a design career in mind at all! I was actually halfway through grad school when I started rooming with a graphic designer— there I was, deep in the weeds of theory and abstracts, while she was making these amazing tangible creations that people could actually hold and use. It was a turning point for me, realizing that design was a way to change how people lived their day to day lives, and I went from picking up some graphic design to jumping head first into UI/UX roles.
I think that’s why the type of design that still gets me excited is projects that change how people interact with their world: I might not be working on print materials anymore, but seeing how interfaces impact people is still fascinating to me.
What does a typical day look like?
Every day is different at Behance, but I try to make sure that I spend time sitting down and actually designing, not just walking from meeting to meeting— it’s incredible how much time can get sucked into meetings and conversations otherwise. I prioritize one design task a day as my main goal, and chunk out enough hours to work on it consistently.
What’s your setup?
I'm a firm believer in plants— the more the better.
My most used desktop apps: Chrome, Adium, Slack, Adobe XD. Our team started using the Adobe XD beta last year and got completely hooked, so it’s now our main design tool.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I split my inspiration into two categories: one is design and tech focused, so that I can keep up with our ever-changing industry. Favorites include:
thenews.im: a link aggregator of the top stories from Designer News, Product Hunt, and Hacker News. siteinspire, nicelydone, spyline: I love to refer to these collections of beautiful websites when I'm in a creative slump.
The second category is to look explicitly anywhere BUT the design and tech world, to avoid an echo chamber. This includes going outdoors, working with my hands (I love flowers and plants!), trying new foods, traveling, or learning how to be still and spend some quality alone time. That last one is something I’ve recently been trying a lot, and I love this quote from Warren Buffett:
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
We make an annual year in review for our Behance members, and I love making playful microsites like these because you get to work with animation and also celebrate how people have been impacted by the work your team does everyday. You can check it out here: behance.net/yearinreview
What design challenge do you face at your company?
Learning how to differentiate signal from noise is a constant battle. Which parts of feedback are reactionary? What should you focus on, right this minute? Why are there so many notifications on Slack? This is not a company-specific problem either— I think our industry as a whole struggles to sift out what is truly important to us, and our world.
I’m learning now how to take all the noise, and distill it down to some real, actionable items, instead of just jumping at every piece of design feedback and reacting with a quick mockup. Figuring out motivations and context is complex but important, and makes for a better design that actually solves problems in the end.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Look outside of our industry for inspiration/heroes and don’t underestimate how far you can get by being kind to others. Most design problems are really relational or communication problems, so learn to talk to people and be human with them. Also, don’t look too much at the designer flame wars on Twitter.