Judging an international design competition is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person that is willing to give their time and experience for the betterment of the industry.
It's time to shine a spotlight on these special individuals and dig a little deeper to see what makes them tick. Therefore, on behalf of the CSSDA founders and crew, please enjoy the following interview with one of our esteemed judging panel members.
Marco Lopes is a digital designer originally from Portugal, now working between Porto and London. Marco started as web designer in 2006 and is passionate about creativity and the critical thinking required within every project.
"I'm keen on simple interfaces and clean design. I try to keep myself ahead of the curve when it comes to the most recent web and design technologies so I'm always researching and playing around with new trends and learning new things. I consider myself a designer who works in a lot of different fields, ranging from traditional design to more interactive projects & product design across multiple platforms."
Marco is currently working as Lead Digital Designer at Farfetch.com. Farfetch is a global community of over 300 fashion boutiques offering an online shopping experience to fashion-forward consumers. Fartech takes the shopping experience to the next level, with the latest technology trends and a seamless approach across platforms.
1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?
It was around 1998. It was a 486 pc, with 100mb hard drive and 8mb memory. The tower was absolutely huge. It took me a while to learn all the DOS commands but I finally got into it.
2. When and what was the first website you were involved in designing/developing? Which elements of the project did you do? Can you remember the 'cutting edge' tech used at the time? How did the site turn out and what did this experience teach you?
I did my first personal website around 1999. I don't really remember what was the exact content. At that time I used notepad and simple html, and a little help from Frontpage.
3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?
To talk about a specific project that I consider to be the most rewarding is quite a difficult task, not because there are too many to choose from, but because every project I've worked on has taught me a unique lesson. One I'm really proud of is the opportunity I had to redesign Farfetch's website with an amazing team of designers / UX and developers. This project gave me the chance to innovate the visual language and apply a lot of critical thinking in the process. We had to develop new creative solutions and use different specialists. At the end we established a design pattern and a visual language that is now being used by all other platforms. It was a long and fascinating process, from which I learnt a lot. I'm very proud of the work we are doing in Farfetch.
4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?
Take one step at a time. If you don't have an idea, don't get stressed about it, just go and do something else. It's this laid-back attitude that allows us to be inspired.
5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?
I would go back to the 16th century in Florence, Italy. I would love to find a way to hang out in Da Vinci's studio!
1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?
For me, being a designer means taking control and seeing the world through my own eyes. It's interesting how broad the field of a designer is in fact. It's more than just visual design, and it's even more than just how something works, is not just the interface on a website or app. It's more than that. It's part of the whole customer journey from the get-go until the customer ends up where we want him/her to be. We can involve the work of designers in pretty much every single process and every single part of our lives.
2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?
This varies according to the project, but when I'm handed a completely new idea I like to start with the pen and paper to get some ideas down quickly. Adobe Creative Suite, and more recently Sketch, are my goto tools once the project moves into higher fidelity. And extracting my designs straight into InVision has been such a timesaver. I enjoy the time we spend with the team talking on Slack about the next features and I use Skype for standups. For personal task management I use Wunderlist, and for project management, Trello.
Regarding fonts, is quite difficult for me to choose but Monteserrat, Salon and HTF didot are some of my favourites.
3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?
Iphone 6, iPad Mini, Macbook Pro retina.
4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?
London: London has such a rich, multicultural design community and it's impossible not to be inspired or influenced wherever you go. It's a monopoly, you won't find it anywhere else. London is unique and in my opinion, still producing the greatest creative work globally. Porto: It's Portugal's second largest city and it 's absolutely stunning. The Douro River runs through it and it has plenty of history and inspiring spots. Berlin: The design, art, fashion and music scenes are active and a lot of international and intercultural influences are coming together. So it's still a great environment for every kind of creative person.
5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?
I like that question, because the answer is pretty much affected by being self-taught. My work and the things I do for fun are usually the same. I'm a lot into little side projects that challenge me. Apart from that, my other passions are photography, travelling and spending time with my loved ones. Also, every once in a while I try to come up with a personal project, just to challenge myself and find a reason to get my hands dirty.
1. How do you stay motivated?
That's thanks to my job and my team. I really enjoy working in collaboration with other creatives. It allows me to come up with ideas in new and different ways as well as to compare our points of view, which improves my own work and makes it grow further. I feel passionate about what I'm doing and I like sharing and exchanging ideas and adapting to different views and requirements.
2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?
I try... I have specially busy periods but I always try to schedule some time with my family and friends, and do activities that help me recharge before going back to work.
3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?
As a designer, it's essential not to get stuck on how visually appealing your work is. We certainly all want everything to look as beautiful as possible, but it's also important that aesthetics don't compromise the general purpose of what we're designing. Don't be afraid to share your work with others at any point and ask for feedback. Sitting on your design until you think it's perfect is too risky, as there will always be criticism. But if you can remove your fears and go one step at a time, you will find things that will guide you along the way, you will learn and absorb new information, meet people, get feedback and new opportunities will come.
4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?
Day to day really, through friends, blogs, twitter, medium, etc. Also the CSS Design Awards are a good resource to see cool websites.
5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?
Read and learn more and more. I would move to a remote island (but with wireless of course!)
Versus: In your opinion...
1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?
That's a tricky one. In my opinion you can be born with a gift but you need experience. Everyone has the potential to be a designer but if you choose this career you will need practice, experience and especially a great commitment.
2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. fulltime job?
I only tried two of them. But for me the fulltime job has always been the right way. I love working in teams, I like to exchange ideas and being able to share a joke with a colleague sitting next to me. When you love what you're doing, you want to work with people who share your passion and who believe in the project and its potential as much as you do.
3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?
Personally I'm a huge fan of Apple products so I would go with iPhone 6s. The design and performance are amazing.
4. Printed book vs eBook?
Definitely printed. I like the feeling of holding a book, and after reading it keep it on the shelf.
5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?
Star Wars, without any doubts.
Thanks for your time. Any last words?
Thank you for the opportunity.