Hey Charles! First, let’s talk about your journey. When did you know you were meant to be a creative?
I recognised early on that my friends would always say that I was really creative, but I didn't really ever think too much of it, honestly, I just really enjoyed making stuff look cool. From as early as I can remember I always enjoyed things that were visually beautiful. Growing up my Dad and I would watch Star Wars and it would blow my mind as to how these things were on the screen. How did they do that? I was so curious as to how they made these visual effects. That curiosity has been the driving force for my career and I now design the tools that people use to create designs! But I’d have never known that growing up. I had no idea what a designer or a creative was. I just knew I liked to make things. So that’s what I kept doing and now I’m here! Speaking to you. What a pleasure!
What is your favourite design discipline and why? How can young designers find out theirs?
It sounds simple; do the thing you most enjoy. That might take a while to find out what that is, you’ll be doing a lot of different things before you realize what it is you like. My advice is to try it all. Try your hand at everything and one of them will stick. I got all the way through a computer science degree before I realized that I didn't want to code(and that’s totally fine)! At university I did a lot of web, motion, photography and brand work. I don’t do a lot of that stuff now but it helped me find out what I did like and didn’t like. I love to make UI move — I do it in my spare time. There's something so satisfying about creating an interaction that looks and feels nice. So now I focus a lot of my energy on making sure I get to do that kind of work. Which, again, sounds obvious — but put your energy into things that you want to be doing more of. Then you'll naturally become what it is that you want to be. You don't just magically become a designer over night. This takes a lot of time and energy. A lot of being a designer to begin with is doing stuff you don't want to do before you find what it is you do want to do. Practice makes perfect. Design is a muscle, work it!
Growth happens when struggle occurs.
Do you think young designers should try to learn many disciplines or focus on mastering a single one?
I think it's important to have a taste of everything. If you haven't tasted it then you'll never know if you want more of it. So in short, yes, absolutely! Design is vast, there’s so many pockets you can fall into. The best designers in the world are those that are able to move through different design disciplines fluidly. Think about product designers; they’re sometimes doing UI, UX and Interaction design. All different, but all work together. I’ve found that in teams there’s always going to be people that have a strength in one particular area. It’s important to be able to identify that and work together on who should be doing what.
If you find your little corner of design that you love doing, then go for it — stick it out and become a master of it. I do however think it's important to make sure that you put yourself in uncomfortable situations as much as possible. Make sure that you’re learning still and not getting too comfortable. Growth happens when struggle occurs. Struggle = growth = power.
What is your creative process? Do you think young designers should have a set of processes or go with the flow?
I do a lot of thinking and writing before I actually start cranking out any designs. I like to spend a good solid amount of time in my mind. If I'm stuck on something I get on my CDJ's and mix some music whilst thinking about whatever it is that I'm working on. I build it out in my mind before I start making any pixels. That’s just me! Everyone has their own process and that’s totally fine! You'll find yours eventually — you just have to learn more about how you work best. It develops over time, everybody has their own process and way of working. There's no magical process that everyone should be sticking to. The best process is the process that works best for you.
The best process is the process that works best for you.
How do you get inspired?
My true inspiration comes from all of you. I feel a great responsibility has been put upon me and I want to make sure that the work I produce is going to make a positive impact on everyone’s day to day lives. That's what gets me up in the morning.
I’m really fortunate that I’m able to travel a lot! I'm really grateful that InVision is a fully distributed team and I have the freedom to live the life I do. I'm grateful for that opportunity every single day. It means I can really create the perfect environment to be inspired.
What would your dream young designer portfolio be?
When you're interviewing an experienced designer, the design interview focuses a lot around cultural fit / personality — and I think that's something that young designers forget to show; who they are. I want to see a bit about you. What do you do in your spare time? What's your favourite chocolate bar? You see where I'm going? When you don't have any industry experience, focus on the one thing you have worked on; yourself. Show what it is that you think your best strengths are then really hit it home. I think the best format for that is a presentation. A few slides about you and a bit about your work. I want to see who you are. I want to see how you think. I want to see how you work. So show that in the best way you possibly can. Have fun with it!
When you don't have any industry experience, focus on the one thing you have worked on; yourself.
What is the most important thing to know about design in your opinion?
Ouff that's a big one. One thing I'd say about design, especially digital product design, is that it's forever evolving. That means we need to evolve with it. So you have to be up for the challenge and make sure you're excited about change and excited about learning, because there's a lot more to come!
Another thing I think is important that isn’t really taught in school is the importance of being able to change your mind. If someone has presented a different solution that has well backed up points, if you can’t make a returning argument with better backed up points, then you have to be logical with yourself. It’s ok to change your mind. Often it’s critical to the success of you and your team! Learning to understand that changing your mind doesn’t necessarily mean that you were wrong or your idea was bad is an important thing to learn. Move forward as a team. Succeed and fail together. Let the best idea move forward.
How can young designers get their first internship/job?
It's a hard thing starting out. We've all been there. It's changing over time and I bet it's way more difficult than it was when I started way back when. But really it's comes down to the individual. For me personally, I made sure that I was making stuff all the time. Flexing my design muscle as much as possible. And then I'd share that work online. On Behance or on Dribbble. Then over time I had an actual portfolio of stuff that I'd worked on. I had a few bits and pieces that were paid work but a lot of it was just stuff that I was making in my spare time. I showed that I had good visual skills. I showed that I paid close attention to detail. I showed that I could get from A to B and that's what people want to see.
It’s ok to change your mind, often it’s critical to the success of you and your team.
Do you have any tricks you would have loved your young-self to know?
Prototypes make the world go around. We live in a fabulous time where you can easily visually describe how you want something to work and it's now easier than ever. Something you should get into asap if you're not doing it already. Ouu and learn more tools. Learn all the tools, in fact. Once you learn how to learn new tools, that's a super power. And they're really well documented now with lots of tutorials online so there's no excuse to not know how to get started!
Do you have any favourite books/resources you would have loved to read when you were younger to help boost your creative career?
I'd only be able to really relay what you can find online. My favourite resource in design are designers themselves. Kind of like how you’d follow a DJ who plays your type of music to find great songs. Follow designers who make the kind of stuff you want to make. They'll be the best resource you'll ever have. Whether that's on Twitter, Dribbble, Behance or maybe they have a blog? Designers are full of resources.
☝these are really great places to find awesome stuff
To wrap up, do you have a favourite quote? How is it relative to your creative career?
You make your own luck in life.
A lot of my friends always say I'm "lucky", and in a sense I am very lucky. I have a good life and I love what I do, but I made that. I did that. I worked hard to make that a reality. I turned up every day. I spent countless hours making things. Countless hours bettering my skills. Put myself in situations where luck could occur. I made my own luck. And you can too!
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Design Social Club — the global, inclusive and friendly place for designers to meet other designers. In fact, there’s great channels that match newer designers with more experienced designers. So head on over! Join the club here