I’ve been telling myself to journal more. But even though I value journalling and respect those who steadily practice it, I’ve always found it hard to form the habit for myself. However, I don’t want to give up. In fact I’ve been inspired to keep at it after reading Jonnie’s recent posts as well as the others coming through the RSS feeds I’ve been collecting and consuming. So I’m making an effort to contribute by sharing what’s happening in our little corner of the quarantined world.
The kids are staying busy and have settled well into homeschooling. It’s a mix of self-paced work and tasks which need our guidance. The school has them on Microsoft Teams where they distribute a daily work schedule and manage assignments as well as Zoom for teacher “office hour” chats and classmate “recesses”. From 9–12 they focus on school. The rest of the day is split up into outdoor activities (the boys have started to build a fort), group activities like games/puzzles and some technology time (the new Xbox One is a hit).
My wife Cynthia and I fit in work hours when we can. She helps with accounting tasks for our church and gets most of those done at home, though one day a week she goes into the office to take care of needs which can only be processed on site. As for me work has gone fairly uninterrupted. PCPartPicker started distributed so we’ve all returned to working alone, communicating via Slack and hoping on calls as needed.
This year I tasked myself to focus on a proper Design System for PCPartPicker so that work continues. In addition I’m diving back in to 3D, trying to keep my skills fresh and pushing myself into projects that feel just beyond where I feel comfortable. 3D is addicting and a nice change of pace from digital design work.
Outside of work and schooling we are maintaining our sanity by going on walks, bike rides, playing board games, watching movies, and helping support local restaurants by getting curbside pick-up. The extra family time is both great and exhausting, but I’m encouraged by the challenge of taking our relational dynamics as a family to deeper depths.
This oral history by ESPN of the 2000 dunk contest and the rise of Vinsanity is well worth your time. I remember watching it on TV. The hype around Vince Carter was real. The man could flat-out jump and hearing the backstory of the dunks he performed was a joy to consume. Hard to believe he’s still playing in the NBA to this day.
This Thursday I am attending Config, Figma’s one-day conference. I’m still new to Figma so I plan to go into the event with the intent to soak up as much knowledge as possible about the highly-praised and widely adopted design tool. I have been very impressed with Figma so far. While it has taken time to shake off old habits I now have a fairly solid baseline understanding of how the tool works. The vector tools are great. Components and auto-layout are my jam. The browser-based nature of the tool has all of my love. Performance has been top-notch and the speed at which updates are issued and new features rolled out is encouraging. I’m excited about Figma Community and what that will enable for the design community. The future for Figma is bright indeed.
Being part of a small team, my workflow is fairly simple. Prior to working at PCPartPicker my design process was far more formal as most of that work was client-services based or part of a larger agency of project managers, designers and developers of all levels, management and other assorted specialities. Now my process is a lot more individualistic. I no longer build out full comps and layouts for review or approval. I spend as much time in a code editor as I do a design tool, if not more so. We’ve found that due to our size we can iterate quickly and directly on the templates we’ve built, essentially designing in the browser, as we push towards a stable-state ready for production. As I’ve watched apps like Figma blossom, I’ve often wondered if and how a tool like it could have a home in our workflow.
Design Systems have also arrived in a big way over the past few years. With the Design System methodology being a foundational ingredient of Figma’s magic sauce, I’m planning on taking inventory of our system and incorporating it into Figma so that we have a better birds-eye view of what we’ve built, what works, what can be better, and what needs to go. And with shareable files a browser-link away, it makes it dead easy to distribute this system to the rest of the team as reference.
There are so many talented people attending and speaking at Config that I’m sure I’ll have no issue having enough takeaways to use after my return. I am specifically interesting in hearing from others working solo or members of a small team like myself. In general though, I’ll be paying close attention to:
- How designers setup and maintain their Design Systems in Figma
- Time-saving/clever methods of using components and plugins
- Unique ways designers are using Figma to get the job done beyond it’s obvious role as an interface design tool
- How designers manage the interchange between a Figma doc and coded templates
- Any large design team wisdom nuggets which can be applied at a micro level
If you’re attending Config and want to chat, please come up and say hi. 👋 See you there!
Next week I’ll be heading to San Francisco to attend Figma’s Config conference. I’m fairly new to Figma, but the time I’ve spent in the app has me very curious about its possibilities and future. I’m looking forward to hearing about how other creatives use it, learning from their workflows, and making new connections. Plus, I get some quality in-person time with my good friend Noah Stokes who I haven’t seen in over two years. If you see me there come up and say hello!
I’ve been an avid podcast listener for years. I listen to shows centered on technology, film, interviews, and design (to name a few) and one of my favorite creative-centric podcasts is The Collective Podcast by the multi-talented Ash Thorp. Ash hosts discussions with a wide range of designers, illustrators, film-makers, visual effects artists, writers, painters, programmers, etc. What I enjoy most is when Ash and his guest(s) discuss their processes. Ash loves to dig into what drives people to create, where they find inspiration, how they develop their unique voice, the struggles that come with the never-ending drumbeat of software innovation and pressures of living in a social-media heavy world, and so on. No matter who he speaks with I often find solace in hearing other creatives struggling with the same things I do and I regularly end an episode inspired to continue to create and not just consume.
One episode I recently finished and particularly resonated with me is the one he did with Victor Bonafonte, CEO and Art Director at Beauty and the Bit based in Spain. It’s a prime example of the rich discussions Ash has with his guests and if you’re like me will leave you wanting more. You can listen to this episode here:
Earlier this year Victor released a short he art directed called “Rebirth”, which was produced by Quixel and showcases their products (particularly their Megascans library) in a beautifully realized world powered by Unreal Engine. It’s a jaw-dropping short. As a side note, Quixel was recently acquired by Epic and Unreal which is going to give more artists access to this level of realism, opening doors to a slew of new possibilities in their projects. I’m excited to see what comes from this.