🎨 Artist ➔ 👷️ Architect ➔ 🛋 Interior designer ➔ 🤹 Studio Founder ➔🖋 Graphic Designer ➔ 👑 Brand Designer ➔ 🎥 Motion designer ➔ 🖼 Illustrator ➔ 🖥 Interface Designer ➔ 📱 UI/UX designer ＋ 🤯 Startuper ➔
🤳 Product Designer ➔🦸 Lead Product Designer ➔ 🛠 Maker ＋📝 Writer ＋ 🕶 VR/AR Designer ＋🕹 Prototyper
Everything started when I graduated as an architect...
Really not. Everything started when at a very young age, I was spoiling walls by drawing on them slightly better than other kids (at least my parents believed in it). During my entire childhood, I knew that I have this superpower of expressing myself visually. Whenever someone was asking me on a videotape camera "Who do you want to become?" I was proudly answering that I wanted to become a painter.
When I grew up, I realized that being a weird and creative artist is a kind of fun, but having food in a fridge is also important, so I started studying as an architect. It was quite beneficial for my systematic thinking and comprehensive projects management. On real, I was partying and drinking beer way too much. It taught me crisis management and delivering decent results under pressure. Every half a year, I had a sleepless month when I was producing 75% of all projects.
For my personality and skills set had a significant influence on how I spent summers during my final years in school and the first years of university. I'm not talking about many festivals and countless parties till morning. In small-town, when I came from my father owned a few shops. So one summer I was working as sales in a tool shop. I remember now that it was quite uncomfortable as I didn't know much about tools and I wasn't the most communicative kid, but it gave me a clue about how business works. Few other summers I spend hanging out in the photo studio. Sometimes on a counter, occasionally next to the printing machine (that was huge, toxic and glitchy) and quite often I was preparing collages, photo albums and other designs in Photoshop. So when the time came, I had a solid knowledge of creative tools.
On my fourth years of studying, unexpectedly I got a job as an architect in a large government agency. Obviously, I didn't grow up, yet. So after doing drawings for the reconstruction of a train station or facade of kindergarten me and my buddy who recommended me there were playing Counter-Strike till night.
Before graduating, I was spending a lot of time on different websites for architects with beautiful inspirational pictures. Without any idea of how the internet works, I decided that I needed to start my blog about architecture. So, instead of polishing my final project for a Masters Degree, I was googling about WordPress, domains, and SEO. This project not only was one of the most popular websites about architecture on Ukrainian for some time but gave me so valuable in the long term understanding of how websites and internet works.
After graduating I found one more job as an architect and interior designer in a small studio, and I negotiated on the previous agency that I'll work part-time as we didn't have so many projects these days. But I didn't last a long time in such 12+ hours workdays. Eventually, I had to choose only one company what was quite easy. In this small agency, I saw more opportunities for growth. During next year I'd completed a wide range of projects and was taking care of a few projects personally.
I always knew that eventually, I'm going to become an independent entrepreneur or something like this. After I got bored talking about these dreams, every smoking break, I quit.
I got tiny and cold office room in an office building not far from my flat. I locked myself for a few weeks, and thanks to my previous experience with Wordpress, I created a new and shiny website of "Studio 113. Studio of architecture, interior and graphic design". Then I emailed everyone I knew and told how cool I am.
I know that here you expect to see my complaints about how stupid and jobless I was. But it was oppositely. It was great times. I was doing a shitty job for a penny, but the first time in my life, I owned it. 💪
After a month or so being busy, I realized that I didn't do any job related to architecture or interior design, so I locked myself again and redid the website for "Studio 113. Graphic Design Studio". During these times, my work attitude totally shifted, as I was taking full responsibility for projects, processes, communications and practically everything for the first time. Now, looking back, I see how risky and stupid it was. But going through such pressure would give anyone unshakable confidence.
I was repeatedly doing self-assessment to understand for myself where I'm heading. Once I wrote on small pieces of papers projects that I've done and tried to group them by type of organization that could produce them. Most of them were in a group called Advertising Agency. I had no idea how this market works, but I knew that I need to learn in asap. Next day early morning I came to the office, googled the best adv agency in my city, sent them a short email that I'm cool and I want to work for you, and went to a local pool. After swimming and breakfast, I had an email in the mailbox inviting me for an interview the same day 🤷.
I don't know how, but I passed the interview. Also, I tried to negotiate that I'll work remotely from my own office. Obviously, they said "No", I said "OK, I'll think" and I went home.
New shiny iMacs, bright office and salary higher than I have ever had were convincing. The most crucial factor was the knowledge that I could gain there.
In a few days, I started coming to their office. It was quite a large advertising agency with national-tv-level projects and a lot of gifted people. I a short period I had a chance to try everything: logotypes, brand books, packaging, illustration, motion design, banners, presentations and websites design.
After gaining knowledge in addition to my youth confidence, I came back to my own Studio 113. But focusing on it full time again elevated the business to another level. Quite often, I was doing some logo or graphic design for a new client, and they would come back and ask website or something else. So, I had more and more digital projects.
I started hiring some freelancers to help me. Also, I had my first full-time employee. Now looking back I see how terrible manager I was. I still feel guilty for those blurry tasks, under-communication and other fails.
But it wasn't such a huge issue. Scope of the project was gradually growing. Unluckily, I focused on the internal Ukrainian market. Revolution of Dignity times was quite rough. But after Russia invaded Crimea and exchange rate of local currency (Hryvnia) dropped significantly, I had a feeling that all my clients just switched off their phones.
I knew that it's time to move again. I needed to gain more experience with international clients and improve my English what I just started learning from zero a few months before 😬. So I just googled the top 10 outsourcing companies in my city. The same day I had one interview and two offers.
The company that I started working at was relatively small outsource. First and only one thing that I liked there was a team. Everyone in the room was on the same tune. Projects were mobile and web apps for clients around the globe. I quickly caught up, gained confidence with international clients and complex digital projects.
Frankly, the vibe in the team was soo cool that I keep coming to the office even after I quit. It happened when my freelance earnings overcome a decent salary in the company.
It didn't make sense for me trying to resurrect the studio again, so I decided to stay low and focus on my craft. But in a few weeks, I received an email that was asking if I'm open to the idea to move to Dubai. I replied that it sounds interesting and opened Google as my knowledge about Emirates was quite limited. In two weeks, I had my first working day in Dubai.
It was a small startup that was building an e-commerce project for the local market. On the side, we were doing simple websites for clients around the city. I like Dubai, all its energy and speed.
After a few months, I figured out that position wasn't quite as it was advertised and I didn't see any options for grows, so after finishing all ongoing projects, I quit. Again I didn't have any plan, my wife and I were exploring other opportunities for relocation, travelled a lot, and I keep working as a freelancer. Experience and decent hourly rate allowed me to don't be in a rush and explore around.
While I was in Germany, a recruiter on LinkedIn asked if I wanted to come back to the Emirates. As usual, I replied that not really but it would be great if he could share details. He promised that it was an excellent opportunity and convinced me to have a call. I replied: "Let's give it a try". A few days later, I had an interview with a lead designer in this company. Right away, we found a common language as both of us had a background in architecture. After a pleasant call, she asked me what I thought, and I replied: "Let's give it a try". In a few days, I received an offer and soon replied: "Let's give it try". I was "giving it a try” for more than four years.
This time I knew where I was moving to and what to expect. In the beginning, this company was a fast-growing startup with a very experimental environment. The main product was a tool to work with big data for large corporations and governments. The project was so large and complex that I was coming across new exciting challenges regularly.
After settling in a little bit, I realized that doing corporate stuff is kind of cool, but I needed to find something to do in my free time that would keep my creative mind in good shape. So I decided to explore the VR and AR fields more. During these years I was spending all of my free time on research and experiments. I created the largest publication about design for AR and VR on Medium, curated a newsletter, released a few tools and templates, interviewed dozens of people, created hundreds of concepts and designs.
In my full-time job, I initially had a hard time understanding how much freedom I had. Whenever I was trying to propose or do something on my initiative, it was not only listened to but quite often appreciated. In such an environment, I got the chance to grow more as a leader. Eventually, I found myself in a position when I was producing designs only part of my time.I made a lot of mistakes, and I hope that eventually, I became the leader that my team deserves. My line manager is a great source of inspiration for me. I never thought that in a large company with tonnes of bureaucracy, fuzzy procedures, and many other issues one person can have so much positive influence.
The right combination of a challenging project, progressive environment, and supportive team made me stay in this place for over four years. I moved forward only after realizing that I'm not some kind of parasite that can only jump between assignments.
Remote work can be challenging and requires some level of self-organization, but the benefits you get from the ability to focus on tasks and delivery instead of long commutes and chats over the water cooler are impossible to overestimate. I think that I'm becoming some kind of remote evangelist.
I wrote it before COVID when remote work became not just a good alternative, but the only option. I believe that the shift to remote is here to stay, and many companies and individuals will benefit from it.
Years of XR experiments and small contracts during my free time finally paid off. After one of my concepts went viral, I got a contract from award-winning studio RYOT (part of Verizon Media). I was lucky to end up in the R&D team building Verizon Media Immersive Platform - a suite of cutting-edge 3D + Augmented Reality products. In addition to a couple of cool AR projects for the NFL, Yahoo and others, I led the design of a tool for creating multi-platform AR experiences. Think about it like Spark AR or Lest studio but not only for a single mobile app, but for iOS, Android, WebAR a desktop at the same time. This tool is widely used internally by creatives from various Verizon Media departments and their partners to create engaging experiences for their outlets and clients.
I've never felt entirely comfortable drawing pictures of products and waiting for others to make them work as I imagined. This feeling made me learn the basics of web developments early in my career. I was always ready to have my hands dirty, whether it was editing some CSS to make things look "right" or developing relatively basic tools and websites on my own.
But when I entered the XR field, confidence in building stuff became a necessity. I quickly figured out that one prototype worth 100 videos. Before the ARKit-era, I've been prototyping AR using Vuforia. Then tried to get a feel of VR using AFrame and many others. But the best tool for prototyping spatial interactions without any doubts is Unity. I had a love-hate relationship with it. I would learn it enough to build a thing I wanted and then put it away for months or years. It took me some time to learn it to the level to say: "I can prototype anything I want".
During summer 2021, I decided to take some time off and explore the XR field. I left RYOT and started traveling around Scandinavia and other parts of Europe in a car with my wife and our dog.
On the professional side, I've been advising a couple of small teams part-time for quite some time. Suddenly I met a few more other extraordinary companies with which I couldn't miss a chance to collaborate. So, in no time, I was busy helping with various XR products. At first glance, such a load felt overwhelming and switching between projects inefficient, but later, I realized this it's exactly what I was looking for. I do have a comprehensive view of the XR field by working with teams from diverse sectors using various technologies, and it's never boring with ever-changing challenges.
Obviously, I never stopped experimenting. I keep building prototypes with various cutting edge technologies, like hand tracking in VR and MR, locomotion for VR, spatial audio, minor and principal interactions for all types of spatial design. You can find some of my explorations on Twitter or YouTube. BTW sometimes, I write articles. You can check them out in my journal.
I still feel like I'm just starting up. My diversified experience allows me to feel comfortable with any project on any scale. At the same time, I'm an eternal student, who is always looking forward to new challenges. So stay tuned...