"Design is about solving a problem for your audience, often times about an issue they didn't even know they had..."
Hey adventurer, I'm William, I do product design in sunny Sydney, Australia.
I learned how to fold my first origami crane when I was in kindergarten. My eyes sat in awe as my teacher, fold by fold, turned a sheet of paper into a piece of art. The magic captured me, and ever since then, I have been a huge fan of the arts and crafts.
When I was nine years old, my family immigrated to Australia. I didn't know a shed of English, so for the longest time I couldn't communicate with my classmates at all. One day in class, I drew a ninja — yeah I know, typical — on what I visualised to be a battlefield. My classmate, who was sitting to my right, glanced at my drawing, then at me. We exchanged a couple of glances before he grabbed his pen and did a scribbling motion in the air, I nodded. What started as a simple sheet of lined paper, became a full-blown drawing battle between a Chinese and an Aussie ninja.
"My name is Blake."
In the end, neither of the ninja factions won, but I made my first friend ever in a foreign country. It was around this time I decided to pursue the arts, so that I can get over the language-barrier brick wall and communicate with other people.
17 years flew by, and I'm still doing the same thing as I did back then. Now, I use many more mediums instead of just pen and paper, and I help brands create dialogue with their users. I had transitioned from 'art' to 'design'.
To me, art is about self-expression. It's about pouring your emotions onto a piece of canvas — be it physical or digital — and having others interpreting it in their own thoughts.
Design, however, is mostly about them, and less about yourself. Design is about solving a problem for your audience, often times about an issue they didn't even know they had. You have to understand their goals, diagnose their pains, and find ways to empower them every step of the way. This journey of creating a dialogue between the user and the brand is what keeps me going.
During the last few years, I've had the pleasure of working with many amazing clients. Every project challenged me to learn something new, be it a new software or public speaking. For myfoodbook, I learned Ruby and front-end coding to help the developers. I was able to contribute more relevant ideas and update the code myself, while also being the bridge between designers and developers.
I like reading and learning about new tools and technologies, but have always been mindful about improving my soft skills: professionalism, communication, teamwork, to name a few.
My teammates are as important as my users, so I try my best to listen to them and see things from their perspectives. When I heard them complain about doing repetitive tasks, I studied and wrote workflow scripts for them. My scripts had not only saved the company tens of thousands of dollars, but also made the team much happier and more productive.
My favourite quote is from Jiro Ono, a 91 year-old sushi chef from Japan. He had spent much of the last century improving his art, through hard work and pure dedication.
"Our techniques are no big secret. It's about repeating a process, and getting better each day." - Jiro Ono
I really respect his determination, so I try to improve myself by at least one percent each day. Whether it's doing something better or faster, I can live knowing that each day I am better than the previous.
I draw my inspirations from life. I observe, listen, and try to understand the different walks of life. I aim to use my knowledge to create compelling stories that I use to inspire others, and for myself to remember the world by.
"Everything in life peaks. I mean, we peak, beauty peaks, everything peaks, and then goes downhill. So the secret of cooking is to understand when to stop." - Marco Pierre White
Likewise in design, the secret is to know when to stop adding, and to start removing the unnecessary.
"Our techniques are no big secret. It’s about repeating a process, and getting better each day." - Jiro Ono
I live my life through this quote, even if its means I just need to perform 1 extra push-up, the key is to never have any 'zero' days.
"Fancy flavours cannot hide poor cooking." - Tendou Souji
If your work has no substance, it cannot carry itself very far.
"JUST DO IT." - The one and only Shia LaBeouf
Really though, the best time to do something was yesterday, the second best time is today.
Have something on your mind? I'm always happy to chat. email@example.com