Designers checklist advices


advices from a self-taught guy who developed his own work... by Tobias Van Schneider — Designer at Spotify — NYC

10 advices from a self-taught guy who developed his own work flow

Tobias Van Schneider • Designer at Spotify • NYC Read the original article on his blog

Recently I'm getting a lot of emails from people asking me what my process looks like and which tools/apps I use for most of my projects. Since I'm a self-taught guy I developed my own work flow which works best for me and I'm happy to share it with you.



bits of advice on how to become a design school dropout by Brijan Powell — Designer at Rally interactive — SLC

7 bits of advice on how to become a design school dropout

Brijan Powell • Designer at Rally interactive • SLC Read the original article on Medium

Advice from an unschooled, balding, divorcé who might ruin your life if you actually follow the advice given. Then again, it may just make your life better? I never went to college or to a university, hell, I never graduated from high school. I was too busy snowboarding, skateboarding or just plain being a lazy piece of shit hooking up with every girl I could along the way. Read More
So in many respects if you are in school I have to say, “Congratulations, you're not an asshole.” Because I certainly was and ... I still am—it's all part of my manly essence. So now that you're aware of my faults I want to make you aware of yours. Let's begin with the fact that you are paying money to learn how to be a designer. Ugh... seriously. (See, I can say that because I already told you I'm an asshole.) I'm being smug, I know. So, let me continue to be smug and tell you how you should continue your school career.




Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Let's skip the whole briefing and re-briefing stuff and dive right into the brainstorming.

Usually I start with a mind map for each project using Mindmeister. Mindmaps are awesome because they contain almost every data you need in one big document - and the most important thing: You can collaborate with others & share them easily. Then I move on with sketching (wireframes, random ideas etc.) in my DotGrid notebooks from CreativeOutfitter. I love sketching because it's quick, easy and forces you to leave your computer for a second. (and I'm lost without a grid, that's why DotGrid notebooks).


Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

There's no exception - I work with wireframes every time when it comes to something digital like websites, apps, mobile stuff etc. I'm sure there are a lot of great apps out there like Balsamiq or Omnigraffle. But to be honest, I'm using Illustrator in combination with Keynote for this.

The reason why I'm using Illustrator is just because it fits my workflow perfectly. After some time you have your own collection of interface elements and you can simply drag your wireframes together. And if you need a custom element, you can just draw it or use one of the InterfaceKits you can find on the web.

As soon as I finished the basic wireframes in illustrator I jump to Keynote to make the final client presentation PDF with some additional notes and simply copy/paste the wireframes from Illustrator via the clipboard into Keynote.


Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Okay, I'm guilty - I don't do prototypes by myself, especially for websites I always work with other developers to build prototypes if needed. But in case of mobile apps I use PrototypesApp to build really simple click dummies for client presentations. This tool is amazing and so easy to use. I improvise a lot with Coda, PrototypesApp and making example GIF's with Photoshop... I'm just not a developer.

04/10It's about the process

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Just do it and start with the first thing that comes to your mind. There is absolutely nothing you can do wrong.

05/10Don't listen to other people who're telling you what's right and what's wrong

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Those people will always try to keep you small and hold you back. Don't listen to them. People always told me that I'm naive — and yeah, maybe I was. But I always was optimistic and I knew that I'm doing the right thing.

06/10Surround yourself with people who motivate you

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Also always making you feel good about what you're doing. These personalities are rare - so if you found them, keep them.

07/10Help other people

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

Even if you're at the very beginning of something, use your knowledge to help others. Why? Try it, magical things will happen, I promise.

08/10Always surround yourself with people who're "better" than you

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

That's what Donny Osmond said and I think it's partly true. But try to replace "better" with "crazier" or "different".

09/10Break the rules

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

That's actually one of the most important things at being self-taught. Be a rebel, break the rules and don't be afraid of anything. What if you fail? Get up, try again. If you don't like it? Don't do it, do something else. It's that simple.

10/10Stop complaining

Tobias Van SchneiderDesigner • Spotify • NYC

I know, that's fcking hard and I'm not really good with this either. But complaining is always the easy route and nothing actually happen when you do it, except you're surrounding yourself with a lot of negative energy.

01/07Drop out of design school IMMEDIATELY!

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

I know, you'll actually miss out on some really great stuff like having far less talented students tell you your work sucks and doing assignments that have no real world relevance.

But seriously you will miss out on some great concepts and principles of design.

However, you know books exist because you just had to pay ungodly amounts for them at the beginning of the semester. So get on amazon and buy some awesome books on design and on typography like Type Matters! by Jim Williams.

Once you have some great design books in hand go to the admissions office, change your major and...

02/07Get a business degree

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

I know, not the thing you were expecting me to say was it. You see, I tell you this because if you get a business degree you'll be far ahead of the rest of us dickheads that draw pretty little pictures all day to earn money to feed our hungry-pig-mouths.

I know it's not the fun, creative thing you were expecting to do for four years but that leads me to my next point...

03/07Don't stop designing

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

While you're hard at work earning your business degree you should be equally as hard at work starting your business. How do I do that you ask? Well you...

04/07Start growing your reputation

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

There are many ways to do this but the only advice I can give you is to watch and learn from other incredible designers out there. Below are some of the designers I've worked with closely and the things I've learned from watching them: (I'm creepy like that)

I've learned from Ben Cline how to use social media to your advantage and how it gives you a voice in the community. Communities like Twitter, Dribbble, Behance, Cargo Collective and many many more will aide you on your way.

I've learned from Claudio Guglieri how writing articles like this one help get your name out to a wider audience. It's also really nice to share the things you've learned along the way so others can benefit and grow from them as well.

I've learned from Tobias van Schneider that constantly creating and posting your work on as many different networks as possible gets your work seen by more than just other designers.

I've learned from Anton Repponen that hard work and extreme attention to detail not only gains respect from your peers but also wins clients hearts.

Speaking of paying attention to details in your work the very best way to start learning details and nuances is to...

05/07Get freelance work, loads of it

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

Shoot man, I don't care who it's for. It can be for your grandma's book club so long as the work pays but most importantly your work has to be your very best, every time.

The first work I did was for a real estate company in Salt Lake City, UT and I can tell you right now... it was utter dog shit. But I got better and better by simply getting more and more freelance and working my ass off.

I like to find freelance by looking at websites of things I'm really interested in like motorcycles and then straight up cold-calling companies and asking if I can redesign their site or do an app for them.

There are awesome sites out there like the new invite only created by another awesome designer Julien Renvoye and the team there.

By doing freelance you'll not only be learning through real world experience you'll also be able to...

06/07Build your portfolio & your client base

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

As I mentioned earlier, posting your work on as many different networks as possible really does get your name and your work out to more than just other designers. Many designers I know get a lot of business inquiries from people who have seen their work on the previously mentioned design communities.

Also mentioned above is the fact that your work should be your very best every time. Don't get lazy. Don't settle. Don't just hand off your PSD's, AI files, etc. to a developer, printer, etc. and wait for the result. Be extremely involved in the whole process. Don't be a dick about it. Simply be involved and make sure the results meet your expectations. One thing I learned from David Martin at Fi is if your expectations are not high and you can't deliver on those expectations you won't survive the competition and clients won't come back.

The best advice I can offer about clients is your attitude toward clients will make or break you. You can be an amazing designer, you can have all the awards and all the best ideas but a client will still be happy to drop you on your ass if you're a jerk to them.

Yes, clients can be tough but because you are busy getting a business degree you'll realize pretty damn fast they are the ones feeding you. They are putting you through school and/or paying your bills. Thus, they own you.

But all that is ok because you know you're well on your way to reaching a goal that you made back in freshman year to...

07/07Create your own studio

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

I really can't help you with the day-to-day elements on owning and operating your own studio. But if you can make it there, you're pretty amazing so be proud and give me some kick-backs for helping you get there.


Now if you can do and that in real life and not just dream about it...

You're never going to be homeless... Asshole.

Brijan PowellDesigner • Rally interactive • SLC

So let's recap shall we? Here are the elements that I feel are the most important:

Don't waste mom and dads money on design school.

Learn how to run a business in school.

Continue your personal learning of design in the real world.

Learn to network through social media and design communities.

Always do your best work. Stay motivated enough to never deliver lazy, subpar results.

Treat your clients with respect. The community is smaller than you think so don't be a dick.

Give back to the community and show others how they can benefit from your knowledge.

Earn your paycheck, buy food and have a roof over your head.