Curiosity - asking why or how something was made possible was the first fire that brought me closer to design. Critical thinking is the initiator of the underlying process of every design exercise: it lets the individual investigate how things work (or don't work) and it's an essential precursor to creativity.
At the beginning of the internet, there were no rules. Just a lot of seemingly organized information which I used to peruse for hours. It didn't take me long to understand how incredible this platform was and I felt compelled to "do something with it".
I started making websites for friends and for myself. For free, of course. Design as we know it today, with all its various disciplines and facets were still unknown to me. I mostly spent a great deal of time illustrating in Photoshop - then publishing the illustrations on the web. I just enjoyed it, I guess you could call it a hobby.
I had no formal education in design, I was just logging a ton of hours behind a screen.
I carefully considered a variety of career options before applying to Hyper Island in 2006. Damn, I should have been a doctor.
In those years design started to take a more defined shape: at Hyper Island we were designing marketing campaigns, products and basically anything that would come to mind. The risk was non-existent - I was in school after all - and passion for design was our fuel.
I got my first job in advertising. I don't regret it, but I wouldn't make the same choice again. Inquisitive thinking and advertising don't play well together.
In the few years of my professional career I made a habit of questioning processes, beliefs and techniques of the designers I had the opportunity to work with. I learnt a lot that way: both what do to and what to avoid.
Today I lead creative at a small design firm based on the West Coast, I still value critical thinking, common sense and initiative as much as I did the day I started.