Lewis is a designer and front-end developer based in Bath, UK working for Blubolt. He is also one of the co-founders of Tomorrow’s Web, a meetup held every few months in London.
If you’d like to contribute a question for our “Interviews” segment, tweet at us and you’ll be featured in our next post!
What kind of job(s) did you apply for?
I didn’t really apply for much when I was freelance – being a member of the forum I mentioned was really helpful as it meant that I made contacts who would recommend me to others and vice versa. It was a big community and we all helped each other out. I was still in school at this time, and only had a certain amount of time to do a little work but it was nice to have the extra income and I slowly improved my skills. I did try 99designs for a while and amazingly got a very loyal client through it, but like many, I dislike the idea of the service and would recommend against it if you’re considering giving it a go.
When the time came for me to seriously consider my options, I started looking for a full time job. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at University and school wasn’t satisfying me at all. I can’t remember why I was following @amerz, but I saw that she tweeted Blubolt were looking for a Designer/Front-end Developer and I applied for the job. I was 17 at the time and took myself to Bath for the interview, I must have said something right and I’ve now been here for a year! It’s a beautiful city and I’ve made some great friends here, I couldn’t be happier with how things are going and I’m learning loads each day.
What’s your design trend pet peeve?
I almost don’t want to say it as many have before me, but Dribbble players have the nasty habit of uploading shots of an iPhone at an angle. You can make anything look good by doing it, it seems, and I’d prefer to see real pixels.
I started creating websites from quite a young age (roughly 11) – my friend Tom introduced me to freewebs.com (now webs.com) and told me it was easy to create websites for pretty much anything. At this point it was merely dragging and dropping elements and adding content into place, but it worked and I fell in love with the idea of being able to create my own website. Towards the end of primary school, I created a website that hosted flash games from miniclip myself, as by then I could just understand how to use the embed codes and add them to my site. This was pretty popular and around that time that I got more and more into HTML. I started coding my own sites and experimenting with designing myself, rather than using pre-made templates.
During secondary school I worked out how to install PHProxy on my own server, so my site became pretty popular, but ended up with the school not liking me very much, so I had to shut most of them down (I did keep one open for personal use!) It wasn’t really until I was 14-15 that I realised I could make money out of what I did and started offering my services. I was a budding member of the mickm.com forums where I made friends who I still see every now and then to this day (hi Charlotte!) from there – I just improved my skills with the great feedback of the community.
You’re one of the organizer of Tomorrow’s Web Meetup. Why did you start this and what has the response been like from young designers?
A few years ago I worked on the original Tomorrow’s Web which was a conference that had the one goal of having every speaker under 21 and showcase up-and-coming talent. We had Charlie McDonnell speak, for example. It went really well and the feedback was unprecedented and we started organising another. However, I left at that point due to other commitments. Thanks to some mismanagement, the idea to have conferences in San Francisco, New York and London collapsed and the name got quite a lot of bad press.
Fast forward to last year – Chris, Andrew and I wanted to organise something similar, not a conference, a meetup – where we’d have 3 speakers and lots of pizza/drink with the main aim of inspiring, and then creating conversations. We usually all head to a pub afterwards where we chat for hours, it’s a really fun thing to do and we try to run them every few months.
As for reactions: They seem to really enjoy it, and with feedback we’re always improving. Tickets are only £5, and that is really only there to incentive people turn up. For that you get a bunch of food and drink, 3 great speakers and a day with likeminded people. Can’t complain with that!
My dream website would most likely be a brand like Urban Outfitters or Urban Ears (maybe just anything with the name Urban in the title!) – I really like the style UO have got going and would love to bring their site up to date a bit with some responsive design and some more suitable fonts (their physical branding is pretty different to what they have online). As for Urban Ears, I love their current site and their products, so I wouldn’t really want to change it too much, but I’d like to work on something with a similar style.
What is the best advice you’ve received from other successful designers?
I think it’d be hard for me to pinpoint one piece of advice I’ve received as I read a lot of blog posts and take people’s opinions seriously, so advice comes quite often. However, I like to send out versions of my work to fellow designers for feedback and although I can’t give a specific piece of advice, I can tell you that my friend Laura Kalbag always gives fantastic feedback on my work and helps me whenever I get stuck on a design, so it would most likely be a piece of advice from her!