I know it has again been awhile since we have posted a new interview, but today we have another great interview to share with you all, as part of our interview series here at Admix Web. And as always, remember, we are publishing interviews of fellow web designers, web developers and graphic designers, so we can get to know the people behind the blog or behind the web work. We are continuing with the interview series and are still looking for new designers and developers to introduce to our reading community! You can still contact me at hlamarche[at]admixweb[dot]com if you would like to be interviewed, or if you know someone who would like to be interviewed. This week we have a talented web design named Eliza Alys Young, who runs her own web development company, Design Intense in Florida! She also has written various articles on Design and WordPress here on Admix Web! I hope you like the interview! Enjoy!
Thank you so much for doing this interview for Admix Web. Can you give us a brief background on yourself?
Both my parents are fine artists. I grew up in NYC and majored in art at a charter high school called Music and Art and went on to study at Maine College of Art where I graduated with a dual degree in graphic design and photography. My first job out of college was working for a collectible doll company. The IT department recruited me to learn HTML to build a sample website to convince corporate they needed one. I continued to study HTML on my own and a few years later I began making web sites and started my own business.
List three things people might not know about you.
1. I was the top math student in high school and was encouraged to become a programmer but the artist in me needed a more creative outlet.
2. I wanted to be a textile designer but my college dropped the major before I enrolled so I chose graphic design instead.
3. I am a gourmet cook.
Why Design/Development as a career? What were your inspirations for that profession?
For me, web design was the perfect combination of my skills. It was creative yet constantly changing which kept my interest while also challenging and precise which utilized my mathematical side. Plus, and this was key, it was a mobile profession — not mobile in the way we think of now, ie., smartphones and tablets — but mobile in the sense that I could do the work anywhere and that appealed to me because I love to travel. And last but not least, it was a burgeoning field when I entered it in 1997 so it was a highly demand skill to have.
Do you do more front end or back end web development?
Front end primarily but I know enough programming to tweak. I know CSS and some basic PHP but more importantly, I understand the logic of programming which allows me to solve most of my problems with online forums.
Are you self taught or did you study design/development?
Self taught! When I started with web design, there were no classes you could take, just a few books on HTML. I did all my first designs using a text editor and reference from sites like Webmonkey. In fact, I taught several classes on web design, even at college level, because at the time, few people knew how to do it.
How many years have you been in the field, and how has the field changed during that time?
It has been fifteen years that I have been working in web design, longer in graphic design. I started back when the average connection speed was a 14.4 modem, the design spec was 600×400, colors needed to be web safe, and tools like Dreamweaver hadn’t even been created yet. I remember a friend showing me a web site for the first time. He started the page loading, we went to lunch and when we returned, the page was still loading.
Can you describe a day in the life of you?
I get the kids off to school then after a quick breakfast, I get to work at my desk, only stopping briefly to refuel for the 6 hours or so the kids are out. My tasks vary from day to day. I try to group work by task so some days I’ll be setting up sites, installing WordPress and configuring templates. Other days I might be designing a logo, marketing through social media, designing advertising or flowing content into a site.
What does your workspace look like?
I have a corner desk that’s fully equipped with a 24″ iMac, Bamboo tablet, iPod dock, scanner, laser printer and tons of papers and files.
Would you define yourself as introverted or extroverted? Describe your personality?
I am definitely more introverted. I prefer to work alone, at home, in a quiet space. I have the ability to focus intensely and get a lot done in a short amount of time but I can only do this when there are no distractions. My personality is intense, creative, and serious. I actually welcome the break when the kids get home because I can easily get into too deep a focus.
What makes you unique?
I feel my electric background and combination of creativity with an analytical side is a rare mix.
What is your favorite color? Does it infiltrate your designs?
My favorite color is deep red and I use it in my company logo but as for my designs, I consider myself a visual translator, interpreting the client’s message, so I avoid imposing my design preferences. Of course I have an overall aesthetic that I am drawn to but my designs are very varied.
What was your first design you actually marketed?
My first business was called “White Wolf Creative Imaging” and the name was inspired by a combination of my love for wolves and my training at the now defunct “Kodak Center for Creative Imaging” in Camden, Maine where I first learned about the potential for digital design. This pic is a screen shot of the home page of my first website, all hand coded in HTML using a text editor. My business name was later shortened to “Wolf Imaging”.
What is your favorite type of design work? And, what has been your favorite project?
My favorite type of design work is identity or logo design because I find it the most challenging. Often you start with no visual material, just a general idea of what the client wants and to visually interpret that in a way that the client likes and works as a design is where the work comes in. All of my logos, when complete, retain a personal connection for me because of the work that went into them but one, DCC logo is particularly special because of who the logo was for and the design I came up with. The logo was for the obstetrician who delivered my second child. I wanted a logo that was feminine because my doctor was a woman and working with women’s health. For that reason I chose circular forms which are naturally feminine. I also wanted a simple way to communicate the different roles the doctor plays in her patient’s lives so I show three stages: gestation, infancy and toddler, all using the same circular forms. My doctor loved the design and so did her patients. It was a very satisfying project.
Explain the significance of your company name.
I wanted a name that clearly communicated that I was in the creative, design business and also communicated something of my personality (intense) without limiting the scope of my business too small. My previous company names: Wolf Imaging and CreativEliza were very personal choices and this time I tried to think more like a customer in choosing the name.
Are you a Mac or a PC?
A Mac most definitely.
What design tools do you use? Which tools would you suggest to fellow designers/developers?
As for digital tools, I use my 24″ iMac, Bamboo tablet (intuitive tool for drawing) and the Adobe Creative Suite. I build all my websites using WordPress and edit the stylesheets / PHP templates using Dreamweaver. But for design, especially logos, I always start with ‘low-tech’ tools like a sketchbook to brainstorm. I find starting directly on the computer too limiting.
Do you work better under pressure or do you need time to cultivate your ideas?
Both are applicable depending on the work I’m doing. If it is web or production work then under pressure is better but if I’m concepting a logo or marketing campaign then I need time for the creative juices to flow.
Tell me about you blog or business: What made you start it and why do you write?
Actually I have both. My business is Design Intense and although I have written some articles on it about design, I don’t write much. In 2010 I started a blog called Amor y Sabor (www.amorysabor.com) which is Spanish for “Love + Flavor” and I write about everything I’m interested in: creativity, cooking, cultures, love… I started writing it because of encouragement from my family and friends who felt I had a lot of interesting things to share. Writing for my blog feels like my guilty pleasure — guilty because I know I’m not making money at it but it’s great fun. But, I have found that my blog has helped sign clients because I work with a lot of foreigners doing business in other countries. When they see my experience with other cultures on my blog they are more interested in hiring me as a designer because they feel I can relate to them.
What is your favorite blog article you have ever written? Why?
My favorite article I have written on design would be “Symbolism In Design” because it is a topic I am passionate about. In my blog, it’s hard to pick a favorite but I am proud of this article “Crazy (Sexy) Love“.
What is your view of Vlogging?
Personally I’m not that interested in it because it requires too much of my attention to watch it. I prefer articles that I can read while doing other things.
What are some of the design and development blogs you read on a regular basis, why?
I don’t really read any blogs regularly. I get a few newsletters on WordPress in my email and I have several designer friends and I keep track of what they reference and then check out things I find interesting. I don’t really have time to read as much as I would like to.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ideally I’d like to broaden my scope and consult with businesses on how to migrate their brand through various media. More of a creative consultant role.
Where do you see design, the web, and development in 10 years?
I think there will be more platforms and specs to work with all the time and interface design will become the most important aspect of digital design — how to migrate the same brand and content across various media. It’s already a challenge with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops but it will continue to get more and more complex. Should be a fascinating time.
What are your thoughts on the opinion that mobile technology will replace the desktop computer?
In many ways mobile technology has already replaced the desktop computer and as web technology becomes integrated into more devices, for the average user, a desktop computer will be obsolete. For designers, however, we will always need something more powerful than just web browsing but what the physical form ends up being remains to be seen.
Please share some pearls of wisdom for up and coming designers in the field.
For me the most important thing up and coming designers can learn is to consider the computer just another tool, not a source of design itself. Learn the basics of design: composition, color, typography, space, communication — this training is applicable to all types of design from print to web and beyond. The computer is a powerful tool but don’t let it design for you. It is easy to play with filters in Photoshop, for example, and come up with something “cool” but good design isn’t about “cool” it is about visually translating an idea. The choices you make in design should all be in support of what you are trying to communicate.
What do you like to do to relax in your free time?
I explore other creative outlets. I am an ambitious cook so I often try out or come up with new recipes. But fiber arts is my try passion, I make complex tapestries out of fabric and embellish with beads, sequins and other materials. I am always working on multiple projects in various stages of completion.
How can people get in contact with you?
Email is the best “creativeliza[[at]]gmail.com” or more contact options are available through my business website: Design Intense.
Links to Web Design and Development Articles Written by Eliza Alys Young
WordPress: Client-Focused Solution
Designer’s Guide to WordPress
Communicate Not Decorate When Designing your Next Website
12+ WordPress Plugins You Shouldn’t Do Without