Why designers should abuse the tools available to them

Above: David Powell

We stumbled across David’s designs last week and couldn’t wait to feature an interview with him.

David is a designer based in Edinburgh, currently working for Mallzee. An app to shop, save and buy easily. That needs to be clean, easy to use and an enjoyable experience. It’s even been called the ‘tinder of fashion’.

You can check out David’s designs on Dribbble here, or connect directly to him via his twitter @davidtjpowell. All designs and photos featured, by David himself.

Hey David, super excited to chat design with you. We’ve been loving your stuff recently.

We noticed your a designer based in Edinburgh, does the cities design scene inspire you or is it the mix of activities going on in the city that keeps you engaged with design?

I’m originally from London and spent most of my young life situating myself around Southern England, but I decided it was time for a change.

I’d be around a few cities on the globe and I found Edinburgh to have that nice balance of urban yet cosmopolitan.

The architecture is also very nice to look at as I wander and the people? So friendly. Even though it’s quite a small city, it’s incredibly multicultural and international.

I think it’s important to try and find somewhere that makes you feel comfortable and content. If you enjoy the fast pace life, seek it out, if you enjoy the quiet life, seek that out. Fundamentally, it’s what environment works best for you to be the most creative.

I really enjoy Edinburgh. The city’s design scene is quite small, but it’s definitely growing each and every day. New designers get in touch with me either from the City’s University, or other businesses — we either connect in the city and online, it’s great! The transport links to other areas of the UK and World make it a favourable destination to work from. The World is feeling smaller and smaller everyday it’s only benefiting us designers to now have the opportunity to work remotely for ourselves, or anyone, from anywhere.

We totally agree about the world feeling smaller, in the past week we’ve connected with yourself in Edinburgh, a VR developer in Florida and a photographer in Canada. Twitter and social media are making it easier than ever!

Your designs are quite varied in style, have you taken inspiration from any particular designers for any work you’ve done?

A lot of my portfolio is a mixture of client and personal work. I try to keep my ego at the door when I’m designing for other people. Creatively, I’m a big lover of contrast and it’s not secret I love black. I like design that proper shouts at you as well as the extremely elegant. Growing up I always enjoyed the old Soviet and propaganda posters. It was from them that I found that design and visual communication can be extremely powerful.

Every so often I like to try something new, it helps stretch the skills, keeps things fresh and gets you out of that comfort zone we designers love so much.

When I first started out, I was a massive fan of Amerlia Arsenic (@amerliaarsenic). She’s a badass Graphic Designer. I emailed her way back for inspiration on a project I was doing and she replied to my surprise. If there’s designers that you love out there, just drop them a line, they would probably love to hear from you.

How important do you think it is for designers to use platforms such as Instagram to showcase their design over the usual sites such as Dribbble?

I think these social platforms are valuable tools for designers to express their work and everyday life in one.

I think it’s important to put a flare of your personality into your work and I’ve found social apps like Instagram only enhance that.

People get a feel for who you are, how you design, what inspires you and also what you do in your free time. Granted, it’s curated in some fashion, but it’s still relevant.

Designers should abuse this. Get into a rhythm of showcasing your work in a particular format, whether polished or unpolished and hit that publish button.

I get messages on Instagram from other designers, agencies and clients alike and I send the same. It’s just another medium with which I can connect with other people. You have a voice, throw it!

If you could give some advice to young designers in their teens looking at pursuing design what sort of advice would you give?

I would probably say three things. Look at the world around you. It sounds cliche but inspiration comes and goes and a lot of it will be down to your experiences, things you’ve heard or seen. You have a phone or sketchbook? Write down that idea before you lose it, whatever it is. Even if it’s just a word at 3am.

Make sure to keep in touch with your life outside of design. Look after yourself. The two are so symbiotic that you’ll creatively fall if you don’t keep yourself stable. Take a break.

And lastly, abuse tutorials and practice, practice, practice. I’m learning all the time. Find a medium of design that you love and shove it in the world’s face. We all start from somewhere.

Lastly, you currently work at Mallzee. What does your day to day design life involve?

I decided to make the transition from agency to in-house. I wanted to put a spin on my career and try solely focusing on one big project in a startup rather than fleeting client work. The app is starting to feel like my baby. It’s casual and laid back, each day is new. I’m constantly in communication with each department, whether it’s Sales, Marketing or Development. I’ve sort’ve become the bridge that translates the needs across them all.

On the daily I’m plugged into Spotify 24/7 and I spend most of my time designing new features for the iOS and Android App in Sketch, Photoshop / Illustrator and After Effects playing with colours, layouts and typography. As the developers say, “Anything is possible” — so I really like to test them on that and push the boat out. It’s a really great feeling watching your designs come to life. It’s very gratifying. I also balance this with InDesign and Keynote for print and presentation related material.

The team really feels like a unit. We create together, drink together and grow together.

This chat with David has been incredibly informative for us, finding out a bit more about design. We really hope you’ve enjoyed reading it yourself and have loved looking at some of David’s designs.

Fieldwork is all about stories. This was one of those stories and we hope to be sharing more like this soon.


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