As I have mentioned in our last interview, here at Admix Web we are doing an interview series, where we will conduct informal weekly interviews of fellow designers and developers. It is our contention that these interviews will not only give us great insight into the people behind the designs, but they will also help with networking, collaboration, and generally getting to know each other on a more personal level. We are still looking for people to interview, so please contact me at hlamarche[at]Admixweb[dot]com if you are interested in being interviewed or would like to nominate someone for an interview. Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing the well-known designer, Brian K. McDaniel of bkmacdaddy designs. This week, I went on over to the UK and interviewed the new up and coming UK designer, Damian Herrington. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for doing this interview for Admix Web. Can you give us a brief background on yourself?
Thank you for interviewing me. My name is Damian Herrington, and I am a freelance Web Designer from Hull, East Yorkshire, United Kingdom. My core skills and services are designing and developing user-friendly, innovative and detailed websites. I can also provide content management integration in the form of WordPress and e-commerce integration in the form of X-Cart.
Do you consider yourself a web designer, web developer, or both?
I would consider myself a web designer, but I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and do some developing.
Why Design/Development as a career? What were your inspirations for that profession?
Originally I wanted to be a programmer. I love creating something from nothing, and also I enjoy the pursuit of trial and error when something isn’t going to plan and the self-satisfaction you get from finding the solution. It was in my second year of university that the programming we were doing was going over my head, and I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I then became interested again in designing and developing websites. My inspiration doesn’t necessary come down to a single person or company; it comes down to the enjoyment of the website, where it looks amazing and is very usable, which is a winning combination. I suppose that’s my inspiration in wanting to be really good at web design.
Are you self-taught or did you study design/development?
I am mostly self-taught, touching on certain aspects through college and university as the courses were not specific to web design or development but the main impetus has been myself to learn and develop my skills further.
How many years have you been in the field, and how has the field changed during that time?
As a profession it has been since May 2009 when I started freelancing. But, web design and development has been with me since college, so about 8 years on and off learning. I think the main change in this field I have noticed over the years is website quality. If you go back 10 years and look at Microsoft’s website for example, you notice the design is flat and the emphasis was on making sure everybody could see every possible link that the user could ever possibly want to go to. Now websites are about engaging the user experience, the visual elements and the way the information is presented is now well thought out and I think that’s down to the shift being from somebody like a “techie” building a website to now a professional with a background in designing and developing websites.
Can you describe a day in the life of Damian Herrington?
As a freelancer I still like to keep my day as structured and regimented as possible, similar to what I would get at a company or agency. So it would go something like this, I get up around 9:30am, breakfast and begin checking e-mails, read some news and blogs, begin working on projects until either 1:00pm or 2:00pm depending on how engrossed I am in my work, have 1 hour for lunch away from the computer, and back to work until around 7:00pm and that’s pretty much it. The day/s I am not working on projects I am marketing and or other administrative tasks. I don’t work weekends unless something really needs doing as I feel like I am never away from the computer otherwise.
What was your first design you actually marketed? How do you feel about it now?
Because I have not been in business that long I still use one of the first websites I marketed on my portfolio. I think it’s a nice clean business website. However, I would do so many different things with it now both with its design and development. It’s funny how in a short space of time my techniques differ from when I built that website. Looking at some of the other designs I made for personal work I don’t like them at all, which just shows that designers can always better themselves by learning new things no matter what the experience.
What are your favorite types of movies and why?
My favorite types of movie genre are; Thriller, Action, Sci-Fi and Comedy. My favorite films of all time would have to be all the Back To The Futures, Shawshank Redemption, Midnight Express and Iron Man plus many others in my collection. Why? I can’t really answer that, other than the enjoyment that they bring watching them over and over again. They never lose their appeal.
What books do you consider must reads?
Providing you have the time, all books! With regards to design and development when I was writing my dissertation I really enjoyed Jeffrey Zeldman’s designing with web standards, it’s a really good book that provides the neccessary foundations for good web standards. Other than that its been a while since I read any design/development orientated books. On my list to read though I would like Smashing Magazine’s book and also David Airey’s book, Logo Design Love. Outside of the work world I am currently reading Robinson Crusoe.
If you could give a Shout Out to someone who has inspired you in your life, but may not know it, who what it be?
That’s a tough one. Purely from a design point of view it would have to be everybody who I follow on twitter, read their blogs and view their websites on CSS showcase galleries. From the point of view in succeeding in what I love to do and becoming the very best I can possibly be has to go to my mum.
What is your favorite type of design work? And, what has been your favorite project?
I think my favorite type of design has to be something with a grungy element or something that can really let your creativity be exploited. This is a design I am working on currently for a friends’ band. This has allowed me to; I think create a really good theme without any constraints. So I would have to say so far this design has been most enjoyable.
What is your least favorite type of design work?
I think my least favorite design work, and I believe it’s the same for most designers is your own website. I have so many ideas, and its difficult to separate those ideas from the good and the insane. Aside from my website I would have to say really minimalist sites. I feel like when I design a minimalist site there is too much space or I should be putting something in a particular place. But again that’s probably down to experience and good use of content placement.
Explain the significance of your company logo.
I wanted a logo that was clean, easily memorable and something that signified a connection or a bond between me and my clients and so that’s why it looks similar to an atomic symbol minus the atoms and molecules.
Are you a Mac or a PC? Why?
Mac. I was getting frustrated with my PC, as it just seemed everything that I did, it wanted to take forever or just crash and I had enough. I moved to Linux for a short period of time, but I was unhappy with the lack things I was a custom too. So I moved to Mac and never looked back. Plus you can’t beat how the Mac visually looks internally (OS wise) and externally and all the wonderful applications there are. I do however still use PC for development purposes.
What design tools do you use? Which tools would you suggest to fellow designers/developers?
I use Photoshop for mainly everything. So I would say invest in the creativity suite as you have everything you could ever possibly need. Even though it’s expensive I think it’s worth it in the long run. I also use Illustrator for specific design elements too. Development wise I did use Cyberduck (FTP) and Text-Wrangler (Text editor) both pretty good and free but recently I have been using Coda and I am very impressed. Another excellent application I would suggest to invest in is Little Snapper. It’s nicely built and manages your website snapshots perfectly, ideal for keeping a collection of your favorite websites.
What does your workspace look like?
Not the most interesting of setups, but it gets the job done. I use the Macbook and additional screen for all my daily designing and developing needs. When I need to be in Windows, I use the Mac Mini as my development area so I can stay in Leopard and use Coda and the Macbook dual boots into Windows XP where I use IETester.
What makes you unique?
I think being a one-man band I can work more closely and have more time with a client, ensuring their ideas transpire into creating their ideal website. I also believe my punctuality and the ability to help the client in what ever way after the website has been finished is also a bonus rather than just building them a website, taking there money and not having any contact after.
What are some of the design and development blogs you read on a regular basis, why?
CSS-Tricks, most of the tuts+ network, Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, Chris Spooner’s blogs, CMD + SHIFT, It’s Nice That, David Airey and FFFFOUND! are just some of the blogs I read. I read these blogs because I love reading and learning about the design and development world and these blogs provide great content.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see design, the web, and development in 10 years?
In 10 years time, I would like to see myself either as a successful freelance web designer or taken the plunge and opened my own design and development studio. I think design won’t change that much, trends will come and go I think the difference will be how users will be able to receive and interact with the content either through mobile development or through your Television.
Please share some pearls of wisdom for up and coming designers in the field.
Do what you love and love what you do. Not everything in life is all crumpets and cream so just work hard, never stop learning, stay motivated and stay determined on doing what you want to do or where you want to be.
How can people get in contact with you?
Holly Lamarche is a writer and attorney from New Orleans, Louisiana. Holly lived in Santo Domingo for two years, where she taught at a local private High School, and she currently writes and edits part-time for AdmixWeb and lives in Lafayette, Louisiana.
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