Kerning From the Best is an article series where I’m having quick chats with remote designers from around the world to learn more about what makes them tick.
This month’s is Stuart J. Williams, who’s been living and working in various countries throughout his career, and now finds himself in Finland.
What does a typical morning look like for you?
Our clients are all on the UK time zone, so I tend to start my working day around 10am Helsinki time, so 8am GMT. By this time I’ve already had breakfast, answered emails and I’m ready to face the day in my home office.
I don’t tend to listen to music in the mornings as my brain is most productive; collaborating with clients on their UX issues.
By the afternoon though, design podcasts and my favourite music (vinyl over digital) are played throughout.
What are your passions?
My passion for writing in recent years lead me to interviewing some of the biggest music artists on the planet, including Linkin Park, Tom Walker, White Lies and Cold War Kids to name a few. Getting published was a dream come true, as I had never pursued my writing in the past; and is a far different experience from seeing a website go live.
How did you arrive here?
After completing my Graphic Design degree in Chester, England in 2014; the past 5 years were spent in Central London working for various agencies as a permanent employee. The agency life was more a personal discovery for me as I worked for both web focused and print focused companies; this helped identify my specialism, and which pocket of design I enjoyed working in.
This turned out to be UI and UX design, as I’m fascinated with cognitive science and crafting interfaces that engage and convert. A good friend set up an agency of his own in 2016 named ‘Moken’, so I jumped on board immediately, working remotely as a freelancer around the world for the past 3 years including Romania, Barcelona and most recently, Finland.
It’s been one hell of a ride, and it’s only just beginning.
What do you find yourself having to repeatedly convince others of?
Mostly describing what I do for a living to people; convincing them that there is substance to a UX designer’s position and responsibility within the realm of the web.
Do you have a mantra?
Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.
What would you like to achieve with your business?
Looking into the next 5 years, I want to travel extensively and discover more of what it means to be a remote freelance designer. Documenting this in my new blog ‘The Soft Office’ will create an outlet for me to write more, and hopefully open doors as a speaker for the industry.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to a lot of different industry artists, be it musicians to architects. My heroes tend to be a mix of people who stand up for what they believe in:
Jonny Pierce from The Drums. This New York musician has inspired me for over 10 years with his lyrics and how he channels his emotions into creativity.
Mina Lima — the Graphic artists behind the Harry Potter films. Having met them multiple times (even one occasion on the red carpet as a Fantastic Beasts attendee), they continue to stay humble after such huge success.
Finnish people. They have accepted and nurtured me as one of their own since moving here in December 2018, and their continuous mission to help the environment inspires me to challenge my own consumer habits and carbon footprint.
What’s your remote setup?
When working from home I tend to stick to my 27” iMac (Retina 5K), my Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse.
I have my trusty Canon scanner on hand in case I need to send conceptual work across to the client, or to help me digitise an idea from pen and paper.
When on-the-go (which tends to be quite a lot), I bring my MacBook Pro (2017), which allows me to work anywhere. Of course the many dongles take up a lot of space when moving around with it; bring back the normal USB port, I say!
Thank you for following this new series. As always, I’m curious to hear your feedback.
As well as this, if you’re a remote worker, get in touch; it’d be great to feature as many varied designers as possible.
Follow 8px Magazine for all future articles & interviews.
A selection of our other interviews:
- Kerning from the best — 5 minutes with Nicola Rushton
- 2018 roundup: What did the industry teach these designers?
- Asana’s Matt Bond on management, startups and burn out
- Stripe’s Mercedes Bazan on moving countries, not being fearful, and having confidence
- Headspace’s François Chartrand on design, mindfulness and music