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.


Tristan Dwyer is the Digital Experience Director at White Rhino, a strategic marketing agency just outside of Boston, MA USA. "My role encompasses a whole range of work, but mainly my job is to make sure our digital work is top notch, and that as a company we're pushing the boundaries of design and technology. On a day to day basis I'm a designer, creative developer, and animator. I also help cultivate and maintain relationships with our technology partners."

Time Warp:

1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?

I don't quite remember the specs but it was an old MS-DOS computer with a dot matrix printer.

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?

The first website I was ever involved in was my portfolio website in college (around 2005). I did everything from the design in Illustrator, to the coding in Dreamweaver (I know). The only cutting edge tech was basically a non-traditional layout (for the time). It was pretty awful and I quickly rebuilt the site in Flash. Working in Flash taught me how much I loved animation, which has been a focus in my career ever since.

3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?

It's a close call, but my favorite has to be Mini Z site. It was the first true "AX" project I worked on, and was a totally different type of experience, for our client American Science and Engineering. We somehow found a way to execute a crazy idea we had - for a traditional market (border security and law enforcement). It was a very collaborative process with people contributing ideas from all realms, 3D, development, design, strategy etc. It also had amazing results which is great to see after a lot of hard work.

4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?

Without a doubt it would be to take risks and don't pass up an opportunity. I made that mistake early in my own career.

5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?

I would love to travel back to the times of the Mayans, something about their architecture has always fascinated me.

Favourite Things:

1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?

Being able to create something from nothing, and solving tough challenges. It's a tough but rewarding field.

2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?

I've been loving Sublime Text lately. It makes development so easy especially with all the plugins available. I also subscribe to a lot of email newsletters from sites like codrops.com, webdesignerdepot.com, leapmotion.com and techi.com. This helps keep me plugged into what's new in the web design and tech spaces.

3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?

I love my iPhone 6, iPad, and iMac. I'm not an Apple fanboy - I think Android devices are great too - but the user experience is so much smoother and everything looks great. They just do a great job with product design.

4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?

Boston, USA because I grew up near here and love the area. Lots of history and everything close by. Oranjestad, Aruba would be great too. I've vacationed there 5 times now and the beaches are beautiful. Lastly would be Stow, MA where I live, so I could spend less time commuting and more time with my family.

5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?

Spending time with my family. I have a wonderful wife, a two year old son and a one year old daughter. It's always great to get outside and have fun with them. Everything is more fun with kids.

Life Hacks:

1. How do you stay motivated?

I read up on a lot of new technology news. I'm particularly interested in VR and Augmented Reality at the moment. Even though I haven't built anything (yet) with the Occulus Rift or HoloLens, seeing amazing new things being built that push the boundaries of technology really keeps me inspired. I also recently attended the EYEO Festival in Minneapolis that was amazing. I couldn't think of a more inspiring event.

2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?

When deadlines get looming it can get tough, but I have a pretty good balance. Family is the most important thing to me, so it could always be improved.

3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?

Never stop learning. It's easy to fall behind in this industry, so always push yourself and learn new things, because the person behind you certainly is.

4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?

I spend a lot of time reading articles online. Mostly web and tech sites like webdesignerdepot. Also some tutorial sites like codrops.com and videocopilot.net. Lastly I like to catch up on interesting tech news not exactly in my space, like theblueprint.com to see who's pushing the boundaries.

5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?

I'd spend a lot more time with my family, but inevitably would need to find a creative outlet as well. I'd probably get into Processing or OpenFrameworks, which I've been interested in for a while but haven't had the time/need to learn it.

Versus: In your opinion...

1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?

I think it's a mix of both. As one of my colleagues put it, some people just "have it", but you need to work to get better and there is no better way to be a great designer than by experience.

2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. full­time job?

There are benefits to all. I run a part time business myself which is rewarding, but the stability of a full time job is reassuring. It depends on the person and what you want out of your life.

3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?

I haven't managed to get my hands on either yet, but by comparing iPhone 6 and S5 I'd say hands down iPhone. Really it comes down to the OS for me. It just seems to have a simpler, smoother experience in my opinion.

4. Printed book vs eBook?

I've tried to read eBooks many times but there's something nice about the tactile quality of print. I've actually printed out eBooks before and it seemed to be easier to read that way.

5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?

Definitely Star Wars, I'm looking forward to the new one due out soon (have you seen the 360 promo video?). Although the last two Star Trek movies produced by J.J. Abrams were great.

Thanks for your time. Any last words?

Just thank you - for the opportunity to be interviewed here and judging on the site. It's an honor and a privilege!

About White Rhino

At White Rhino our focus is on B2B and Healthcare clients, and over the last two years we've been defining a new specialization we call Addictive Experience (AX). While UX is about physical interaction with technology, AX is about the emotional interaction that builds trust with our clients' customers. It brings the science of UX to the art of marketing communications.