First, let’s talk about your journey. How did you get into design? When did you know you were meant to be a creative?
The credit goes to my grandfather. He's an amazing illustrator and wood craftsman and when I was young would always draw cartoons or create amazing things that were so delightful and inspiring. I was lucky to be around this creativity growing up.
I remember a specific time when I was young he did this hand drawn logo for my aunts veterinary business. I was blown away. I immediately tried to emulate the logo and tried to understand how he did it or how he came up with the idea. After, I became a bit obsessed with logos and eventually the world of design.
What is your favourite design discipline and why? How did you find out it was your favourite? How can young designers find out?
I love making a great user experience come to life through UI Design and being able to push that design or experience beyond what you see every day. Designing for new user-centered technology, working with cutting edge clients and creating new trends is something that motivates me every day.
I've always pushed myself to do more and to try and create beautiful emotionally charged designs regardless of medium. I think why this particular discipline is my favorite is because it's always changing based on new technology and you get the chance to do something new.
As a young designer, immerse yourself into all things design and eventually you'll find something that you love. Try and get an opportunity at a full service agency and see what sticks. You'll have a chance to work on a variety of projects and clients. Beyond that just be a sponge. Learn and practice daily and eventually you'll forge your own path to something you love.
Do you think young designers should try to learn many disciplines or focus on mastering a single one?
In my mind there are two paths. You can focus on one and learn other disciplines later or you can learn a variety of disciplines and focus in later. I myself am the latter but that was only because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do just yet. I would say regardless you should master one and understand others that support that regardless of your path. An example being a UI designer you should have a solid grasp of UX design and how that supports your design thinking and decision making.
As a young designer, immerse yourself into all things design and eventually you'll find something that you love.
What is your creative process? Do you think young designers should have a set of processes or go with the flow?
My creative process ranges based on projects. For example when I work on a UI project I like to just jump into sketch and start exploring ideas after deep research of that particular client. When I start a branding project I like to start with pen and paper. There's no right or wrong and you should do what makes you feel comfortable. As a Design Director, I encourage designers to develop their own creative process and should have the freedom to do so.
How do you get inspired?
Oh so many things. I always encourage travel. It opens up your mind to new things and always leaves you inspired. I love to take walks without my phone every morning and night with my dog. Beyond that I look to things like "Its Nice That", Mindsparkle Mag, Visual Journal, Product Hunt, Dribbble, etc. I would recommend getting the Panda chrome extension and setting up your personalized dashboard. Mine is currently, Designer News, Dribbble and Product Hunt.
Do you think having a portfolio is important for young designers? What would your dream young designer portfolio be?
Yes very important especially for young designers. An online portfolio represents you and what you want to showcase and get hired for. I receive so many portfolios that are exactly the same that I just gloss over because what we're looking for is someone that's ambitious or driven enough to go beyond. Don't be lazy. Make sure your homepage is unique but beautiful.
Make sure you have solid case studies that features your own take on the project and be clear about what you worked on. If you don't have experience or projects under your belt yet, create some! It could be something you just dreamed up or try doing a redesign of something that you feel needs it like a product, brand or website. This is your ticket to new opportunities so make sure you treat this like your baby.
Keeping an open mind and having a hard working, humble attitude will take you incredibly far regardless of discipline.
What is the most important thing to know about design in your opinion?
To be a great designer and to grow your career there are two things you should always keep in mind. Learn and Practice. You should always be eager to learn from designers regardless of level or skillset. I learn from my colleagues every day and will always try to soak up as much knowledge as possible to not only help me become a better designer but a better manager and leader. There's always something for you to practice, wether it's your craft, a new discipline to support your craft, speaking, etc. Keeping this open mind and having a hard working, humble attitude will take you incredibly far regardless of discipline.
I look for designers that are driven, ambitious and just want it.
How can young designers get their first internship/job? Is it important to go to design school or not?
Have a strong portfolio. You don't need formal education to get a job. I look for designers that are driven, ambitious and just want it. Be excited, be passionate and keep practicing.
Did you learn any tricks during your career? Do you have any tricks you would have loved your young-self to know?
There are a ton of tricks I've learned in my career and it's hard to pinpoint just one. Keep practicing and learning you'll develop your own. One thing I wish I learned earlier were tricks to sell or talk to my design and the thinking behind it. Young designers please practice this - it's nothing but valuable in our world and will accelerate your design journey.
Do you have any favourite books/resources you would have loved to read when you were younger to help boost your creative career?
Do you have a favourite quote? How is it relative to your creative career?
"Give a damn"
In design, in your company, in your people. Give a damn to whether or not this design will make someones life better. Give a damn about your team or company. Give a damn about what you love to do because that's the goal right? Give a damn about being happy.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Please reach out if you'd like to grab a coffee or talk design. I always try and free up my time to meet new people.
We're hiring on all levels here at Fantasy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dribbble with me https://dribbble.com/kylemcdowell
Follow my freelance work on insta @mcdowelldesignstudio