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Beyond the px — Remus Baltariu self-learning, early starts, and comparisons

Welcome to May’s Beyond the PX! This month we have Remus Baltariu, who works for ASSIST Software out of Suceava, Romania!

Enjoy.

Who are ASSIST Software?

ASSIST Software is a software development company with a history of almost 30 years. It was founded by two engineers with backgrounds in nuclear physics and currently, we’re working with clients all over the world, ranging a wide variety of industries, from education to fashion, and sports… just to name a few. In the last two years, we’ve grown from around 100 people to 200+ now.

What has been your design journey up until now?

My background is in Computer Science (both Bachelor and Masters), but I never put much effort into learning programming. The main reason I picked this one out of the many is my interest in technology. I like to understand how the modern world works and what is behind it.

I didn’t know much about UX design until my internship at ASSIST in the summer of 2013, but I always had an eye to well designed websites, polished UI games and well-thought transitions and micro-animations.

Before that, the story might sound familiar: in high school I started learning Photoshop by doing — editing and photo-manipulating photos of my friends, and using all the options from Blending Options. After that, I entered the world of forums with custom avatars and signatures.

I finished my internship where I designed the interface and textures for a mobile game. After that I was offered a full time job as a Graphic Designer. I did all sort of things (marketing design, print work, game design and so on), because I love to explore and learn new things even I had no idea what I was doing.

For a while I helped on another mobile game (this time, a real one). After that I slowly progressed to web and mobile apps, working with start-ups and renowned brands.

I have no formal education on design and everything I know I learned by myself. Reading, experimenting, making mistakes, doing it all over again.

Currently, I lead the design team at ASSIST Software, which has 4 awesome people, where we try to make the world a better place day after day.

Where are you based?

I’m based in Romania, on the north side of the country, in Suceava county. You can look it up to find more by Googling “Bucovina”.

It’s a land of monasteries, mountains, traditions, and not the least, friendly and warm people.

What does your typical morning look like?

I recently become a father and my typical everything got a twist. Slowly, but steadily I started to find some patterns.

But to answer the question: I usually start the day around 6 am, have breakfast, coffee, have some playtime with my son and it is already 9 am; move to the other room and start a new workday.

Time has a different dimension now.

Usually, the first half of the day is in meetings, starting with a sort of stand-up inside the design team where we catch up together the other day and plan the following one.

What does your design tool stack look like?

Figma, Notion, MS Teams, Soundcloud (nothing without music), Sip, Rectangle, Alfred, Rocket, Numi, RescueTime, Office Suite, Atlassian Jira/Confluence, Adobe Suite.

Outside of work, do you hang out with designers?

Before the pandemic hit, I used to go to design conferences every year. The last one was in London. Design isn’t a topic too popular where I live. But in the past year, when I have the time, I try to attend as many online events as I can.

Do you find it hard to define what you do to your friends?

I’m usually the one that knows Photoshop and “can take or put someone in a photo”. I think that would be the usual explanation.

But mainly, I try to approach this kind of situations thinking that I talk to a 5 year old child. This is the filter I put in order to make sure I explain it so everybody understand.

What’s your to graduates or juniors?

Everyone was a novice at some point. All the great people of the world were a beginner at some point. I, myself, always like to keep a beginner mind and learn new things. It is one of the most beautiful things. Think of when you get the excitement of breaking and making things work. Be in a place where this kind of curiosity is valued, and you will be well on your road.

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

What are your thoughts on burnout?

I was very strict about my schedule. When I work or when I am with my family and friends, the separation was clear.

But since with the lockdown and everyone working from home, those boundaries are smaller and thinner. And it’s easier than ever to fall for it: 5 more mins to finish that, just a bit to reply to this email, you’re saying to yourself. And by time, your boundaries will vanish. You must be careful, because, in the long term, it will get you. You’ll get burnt.

The reality is that there’ll always be work. Work never finishes. Make time for you, for your dearest ones, and the activities that recharge you.

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Life, by designers.

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Luis Ouriach

Luis Ouriach

Design and community @FigmaDesign, newsletter writer, co-host @thenoisepod, creator of @8pxmag. Sarcastic.

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