Meet Keaton Taylor, Product Designer

Meaghan Hendricks
Aug 4, 2020 · 5 min read

Hey Keaton! Why don’t you tell the folks at home a little bit about yourself?

Well, I’m Keaton 👋. I live in Eastern Kentucky (thanks pandemic) with my partner, my 4 kids, and a cockapoo named Carl. He’s gross. We live in a 1.5 bedroom basement apartment below my in-laws. I’ve been at Envoy for about a year. I enjoy bad TV, fishing and Houston Rockets basketball.

Can you tell us what you do at Envoy?

I’m a product designer working primarily on the Dashboard and Mobile teams.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Let’s play “Spot the possible coffee vessels.”

Typically I go up a flight of stairs with the biggest cup of coffee I can muster and get settled in my office. I check Slack and email. I’m on Eastern time so I have a bit of time before most of our company gets in the office. I use that time to work on whatever the tasks du jour. Lately, that’s been committing things to our core working files in Figma and focusing on a lot of mobile UX/UI work. Mid-day means meetings and check-ins. I’m trying to reserve afternoons for focus and admin time where I can. I usually check out around 5 or 5:30 pm and head back downstairs to wrestle with my kids and get dinner sorted.

What’s your hype song/album in the morning?

I have three:

I’d also like to point out that the bass line to Sister Golden Hair by America is a real ass shaker and I love the first Run the Jewels album.

Why did you choose a career in design? You could have been a doctor?!

Design chose me.

I’m old — I didn’t find out that design was a job until I was in my mid-20’s. Despite the inherent privilege I wield as a straight, white, male in the tech industry, I have a dissimilar background from a lot of my contemporaries. I grew up quite poor between the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and the decidedly rural plains of Southwest, Missouri. My mom worked at Walmart for most of my childhood and my father went to prison when I was eight. I don’t think I ever saw him again. We grew up on food stamps, with Tribal health and dental care (Hi, I’m part-indigenous. Cherokee blue card and everything.), and in places and situations that were not healthy for kids or adults.

In my late teen years I was a sandwich artist (Subway. EAT FRESH!), an overnight janitor at a truck stop, and literally dug ditches at one point. I’ve had a lot of jobs. My career path, in what feels like a different life, was managing sales and audio QA teams at retail stores and telecom companies. Design was not on my radar as a real thing until 2009 or so. I was using a pirated version of Photoshop to design bad merch for my cousin’s hardcore band and my country band. I showed that to a friend who was in college at the time and he suggested I check out screenprinting and maybe take some classes.

I didn’t find out that design was a job until my mid-20's.

I went to university at 21 or 22 thinking I was going to be a printmaker but it was terrrrrrible. I had no desire to pull 15–30 prints of something I was excited about several weeks ago. I switched to graphic design almost immediately. The joy of creating ephemera in-the-moment was addicting. In the last year of college, my friend Matthew Spiel invited me to come intern at a small company he worked at and I got thrown into the deep end of web design and development. I LOVED it.

From there it’s just always been my passion. I fell into a lot of self-destructive patterns in my youth and early adulthood. My dad was a welder and my mom has always worked low-paying retail or retail adjacent jobs. They never got to say they loved their work, so that’s a big deal for me. This is it til’ the wheels fall off or the world ends.

Are there any designers you looked up to on your way to employment in the design industry?

Oh yeah. I turned super-nerd as soon as I figured all this out. Let me hook you up:

Frank Chimero (my original design crush)

Tad Carpenter (One of many insanely talented designers in Kansas City)

Ellen Lupton

Aaron Draplin

Jason Santa Maria

Jessica Hisch

The whole dang team at Paravel

Dan Cedarholm

Stephen Heller

Doug Bowman

Sarah Parmenter

Ryan Sims

What would you tell others who might want to get into the design industry?

It’s hard but it’s worth it ~if~ you’re willing to ditch your ego and focus on being kind and doing the work. Be kind because this industry is very small and bad gas travels fast in a small town. Do the work because doing the hard thing grows skill over time and people notice hard work.

It’s hard but it’s worth it ~if~ you’re willing to ditch your ego and focus on being kind and doing the work.

What inspires you?

My family. My partner is resilient and kind and supportive to a fault. I strive to be like her daily. My kids are constantly filled with a sense of wonder that I only catch glimpses of anymore.

People standing up for what is right and good. People fighting the good fight from within systems of oppression inspire me.

What keeps you up at night?

*waves arms frantically gesturing at the world around him*

All this. Systematic racism and people who deny its existence. Insane inequality. The prison-industrial complex. Young Black men being murdered in the streets by people who say they’re here to protect and serve.

I think a lot about the world my kids are inheriting and how I can make a tiny part of it better.

Oh, you mean like design stuff? It’s all ephemera. We’re building things we hope that last but those things require people to be alive.. so…

Oh, like for real design stuff? … uh design systems are hard ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Follow me on Twitter @keaton_taylor and let’s be friends.

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