Last year was an exciting year for Wholegrain as our team expanded to welcome seven new members to the fold, each bringing with them enthusiasm, new skills and a fresh outlook on web design and development.
As part of a new, ongoing series, we’re going to be chatting with our team members, old and new, so you can get to know the people who make our team tick over so smoothly.
Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce Hans, a web designer who joined us early last year. We’re going to be chatting about web design in general, as well as getting an insight into Hans’s background and experience.
Can you share a little about yourself and how you got into web design?
When I was young, my parents wanted me to play a sport. But after trying a few different sports there wasn’t one that really clicked for me.
Just for fun, my mom signed me up for a painting workshop hosted by a local artist, because I’d enjoyed painting since I was a young child and had painted regularly ever since. This led me to art school.
At the same time, I loved computers and had played around with programming from a young age. However, I soon discovered that my core skills were not in programming but in digital design, which suited my artistic nature. This led me to focus my attention on web design.
How long have you been working with Wholegrain and was there anything in particular that enticed you to work with us?
I started working with Wholegrain in March 2016. I enjoy the wholesomeness of the team. Everybody is able to be themselves and is encouraged to be as good as they can be. Combined with a focus on having a healthy lifestyle and having fun together, the company culture is a great fit for me.
What do you feel are the most important things when trying to fit into a new role and blend with a new design team?
I think being super passionate about web design and websites generally is a requirement for this sort of role. I truly appreciate what a website can do and actively seek inspiring websites on a daily basis.
Sharing this passion with other members of the team is amazing. It makes us push ourselves to a whole new level. Working together towards the same goals makes our team cohesive and a lot happier.
What are the most challenging websites you’ve contributed to?
A nice challenge was designing the marketing website for Method and Johanna Basford. The conundrum was that Johanna Basford’s site was going to be sitting on the Method website, so it had to complement both of their styles.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
Typewolf is an authority on web typography and I check it daily for inspiration on all things type. Sidebar.io publishes 5 design links on a daily basis, so I ensure I look at those. I also like The Hacker News and Designer News for general inspiration, while Awwwards is a great source for new designs, plus I follow my favourite designers and businesses on Dribbble, Medium and Twitter.
Outside of the web, museum exhibitions are great for feeding your creativity, but I love to pay attention to the little things in everyday life. This includes less traditional sources of inspiration like restaurant menus, which can be great examples of good graphic design.
Are there any fundamental concepts or bits of knowledge you wish you knew when you were first starting web design?
Yes, there are many additional skills to be learned! I enjoy learning about better UX processes, because I want to design for end users. This has helped me to build up more user-focused processes.
I think I’ve picked up a lot of small skills that have helped me to make more intuitive websites. But I also know that I’m at the bottom of the ladder in terms of potential. There’s so much more for me to learn…
What do you think separates good design from great design?
Good design conforms to existing patterns and standards. But great design breaks the traditional rules, patterns and standards in order to create something truly memorable.
Do you prefer to work as part of a design team or solo as a freelancer?
I’m a team player and I enjoy working with others at Wholegrain. Our skills complement each other, and the sociable, fun atmosphere makes it easier to create great content. Because we work semi-remotely, some parts of the job feel as though we’re working freelance, which I think is a nice balance.
Do you have any favourite designers who consistently put out amazing work or that you simply think are awesome people?
A lot of great digital designers are not very famous or well known. Digital design is probably the least glamorous form of design, as it changes frequently, making it difficult to ‘own’ a style for long. Plus, a lot of great digital designs are made by teams and it’s not always possible to find the names behind them.
In university I was really inspired by people like Stefan Sagmeister and Dieter Rams who operate in more traditional areas like graphic and product design.
Can you share any bits of advice for young designers just getting started on their journey?
There is a great quote by Ira Glass, which speaks about the frustrating gap for young designers between their taste and their skills.
‘Nobody tells this to people who are beginners; I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.’ Ira Glass
This is something Vineeta has helped me to understand. And understanding this helps to take away the frustration and concentrate on the enjoyment of learning.
Thanks Hans! It’s been great getting to know you a little better via this interview, and I love that quote – that works across all creative industries.
Check back soon for the next interview with another of our fabulous Wholegrain team.