Michael Dolejs


Hello, my name is Michael Dolejš and I’m 22 years old graphic designer from Prague, Czech Republic. I’m interested in everything tech, science, design and art related and I’m specialising in User Interfaces, Icons, Branding & Print amongst other things. I also like to take photos, draw and I co-founded small iPhone app — DEFQT (www.defqt.com). I graduated about month ago from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art — major of Graphic Design and I’ve been freelancing for more than 2 years alongside it. I recently started designing full-time at Strive (www.strv.com).

When your friends or parents ask to you what job do you do, how do you answer?

I’m graphic designer that likes to design interfaces. Graphic designer because I studied it all my life and interfaces, because that’s what I’m currently enjoy doing the most.

What is your background, how did you train?

My granddad is an architect and designer and my dad creative director and producer, so I was always involved with art and design in different ways from my childhood. I always liked to draw cars and crazy ideas on paper and walls all day, so it was natural to me that I was interested and studied graphic design both at my High School and my University, which I’m really glad I did, because it gave me space to discover what I really want to do and it was really great life experience. I also discovered Dribbble from another great czech designer — Martin Karásek around the time I went for my University and I got interested in whole industry that surrounds it. My first job I got was mobile app for czech cooking magazine, that I had no experience with, but I was so happy, that I can do something for someone, so I somehow learned it in the process. The app wasn’t superb, but I learned a lot and I think I came a long way in those last 2 years. I’m still trying to get better with everything I do.

What the web can do to make this world a better place? How did the web improve your life( if it did)?

You can certainly learn a lot from internet if you want to and it’s a great place to get lot of informations, so it’s only up to you how you use your time on it. I personally really like to just I browse through Wikipedia for anything that comes to my mind as I’m always interested in new things. Internet was also a place where I first seen sites like Dribbble or Behance, that motivated me to create something myself.

Can you show us three examples of interface that in your opinion improved human life?

Watches — What would be our world without this simple, elegant thing you attach on your wrist. There is still something nice about mechanical watches, but I’m sure we will see more in this area in the future.

Sony Walkman — one of the first personal music players that you could truly have. Rewind, Play/Stop, Forward — can’t ask for more.

Windows XP — first really successful operating system, that helped many people with their first computer experience and was also running on my first own computer I got when I was 15. It might be ugly from today’s point of view, but it helped revolutionize lot of people’s lives.

On quora.com, time ago there was a long discussion in answer to the question “what is the most intuitive interface ever created?”; according to Felipe Rocha it is the nipple, in your opinion instead? (http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-intuitive-interfaces-ever-created)

I’m constantly amazed with what has nature come up with, how it works in harmony and how can everything adapt very quickly. Not sure if I can describe it as an interface, but everything makes sense and everything is intuitive. Also computers have great interfaces too.

How is your work day type?

Lots has changed since I finished my school studies, where I usually worked all nighters and very deep to the night to finish my freelance jobs and school tasks, which wasn’t always easy. Since I’m done with my bachelor studies and I’m no longer living in my student flat in Pilsen, but in Prague, I tried to switch my schedule, so I go to sleep around 1AM and wake up around 7:30AM, so I have time every morning for my own things before heading to Strive offices, where I work until evening. I sometimes stay home and work from my home office, since we are not limited in any way how and where we work, I’m trying to keep myself busy with both work, my personal projects like DEFQT and other side projects and freelance jobs from time to time, even thought that’s not something I have too much time for these days compared to last 2 years.

What is the most stimulating and challenging project you have accomplished?

I had opportunity to work on lot of great and fun projects over the last two years, but the one I’m gonna mention is my own final bachelor exam, where I redesigned Last.fm from my point of view as an existing user — something I wanted to do for more than 2 years. I’m happy that I was allowed to work on something like this in school, where we are usually concerned with more traditional graphic design like posters and printed media and even if I would done some things differently now, I would like to use the service myself like this. The re-design tried to recreate the service as competition to Spotify and Rdio, that I use regularly and was sad, that company like Last.fm hasn’t evolved over last few years. It was also refreshing to have all creative control and be sure, that this is how I want it.

Last.fm Redesign-Proposal

I’m certainly looking for other projects like this in the future.

P.S. I already sent to Last.fm and they liked it and they are working on their own redesign, which is something I’m pretty excited.

What is, among the existing digital services, the one you wanted to do?

I was always interested in mobile photography and I think there are lot of things that can be done in this space, so that’s why I created DEFQT mobile app with my friend Teodorik Menšl and our developer friend from San Francisco — Antony Fresina. We aimed to make small app that can create unique photos and offer something different, than any other photo app that is about filters. We are really happy that people are using it and we have lot of plans for our next version.

Apart from that I’m always interested in ideas, that can make peoples lives easier.

Many designers commit the mistake of starting a project directly from Photoshop, is there a perfect design method? What is your approach to the creative process?

To be honest I sometimes tend to start in the Photoshop first as well, only because it’s easy to mock something really quick if you have sudden great idea, but of course I usually start with an idea that than goes on the paper and then into design. I’m sketching alongside my designing, just to be sure I have context of the flow or for any other ideas I get. Also showers, walks and playing games are great for clearing your mind.

Snap Task app

The “design” is an important part of our analogic life. What is the role of the designer in our digital life?

Certainly to try make everything we do as functional and as nice as we can and give ordinary people something they can care about. It is something different for us designers, than normal people, that aren’t that concerned with how the product looks, but more with how it works and how can it help them. If we look at the world this way, it might bring something new for all of us.

Do you believe it is important for a designer to have a deep knowledge of matters as User Experience, Interaction Design, Product Design, and Front-end development?

Yes and no. It is of course better to have at least some knowledge and know, what to do, but at the same time, this knowledge can be limiting to some. I think it’s worth looking at every new project with clear mind and come up with best possible solution for every problem you are solving. Don’t be stuck in the same stereotype.

Spendee app

In which way do you make a difference between User Interface and user experience?

I think that everything should be about how good it works, if it doesn’t do what do you want or what you are promised, no matter how nice it might look, the experience won’t be great. And that is how most people think about it. Make it functional first and apply nice paint later, because both are complementing each other and are needed when you want to create something special.

What is your relationship with the developers? There are people that have a relationship of continuous confrontation and other of deep friendship, where do you collocate with respect to this question?

I have deep respect for developers, because what they can do is sometimes unreal to me.

I can say that I have few great developer friends that I made some projects and there are lot of great guys at Strive, that can build amazing stuff. It is also always your communication with the developer that matters and if you like a designer prepare all your assets right or organise your PSD’s, it will always be easier for them. Of course I ‘ve done some projects where the final result weren’t as they should be, but if you are involved in the later stages too, the risk of this is getting very small.

How do you think that your career and job will evolve in the next 5 years?

Tough question. My current plans are finish my Master degree at University, continue working at Strive, work on great projects and learn new things alongside it. I don’t want to do just mobile apps and websites for rest of my career, so I’m looking at other interesting design challenges like car dashboards, which would be really great since I really like cars. Also learn how to code and do more 3D is on my list — something I’m playing from time to time. My main concern right now is to be great designer and we’ll see where it takes me. I would love to move somewhere at some time in my life, but I just really want to enjoy what I do and create something that lasts and I can do that from everywhere.

A famous quotation of David Carson (noted American graphic designer) says: “Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does”. Will the User Interface Design save the world, before, at the same time, or after the graphic design?

I admire David Carson. I think that graphic and user interface design are still very similar in their base, both complementing each other, each solving similar problems in different fields, so I think they both here to stay as well as other design fields, especially in today’s technical revolution.

What do you think about Dribbble? Is it a good way to get a job? What’s the best way to find a job as designer?

I wouldn’t be where I am without Dribbble. It was the first place where I could see all other people working on real stuff and look at all the ideas and thoughts rom all kinds of different designers with different skills. It helped me to see what was good and how I wanted to create something. I’m grateful for everyone who give me some feedback on my work in my beginnings and still does that today. It certainly helped me to find my passion and I’m trying to put my work there as much as I can.

What book would you advice to a Junior Designer?

I didn’t get any advice myself and I haven’t read many book in my beginnings too, but everything from Austin Kleon is pretty good start for someone unsure how to proceed in this tough field. Also everything about typography, Swiss style, history of art, graphic design and architecture are good read.

Always as far as advices: what tools for the design? What tools for the projects management?

My toolset consists from Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, AfterEffects and Sketch for small experiments, Basecamp, Trello, Evernote for project management and Slack and Skype for communication. All running on my Retina Macbook Pro that I connect to set of displays.