In Conversation with Self-Taught Designer, Nina Geometrieva
Think designing is difficult? Ever wondered how you would be able to get into this profession?
Be inspired by Nina Geometrieva, design lead for Grab – Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing platform start-up which is punching beyond its weight against bigger companies like Uber.
Nina is a self-taught designer focused on product design and illustration, obsessed with colours, and interested in cognitive psychology. Beyond her day job, she works on pet projects with her husband – mostly games and small apps – to keep her creative senses sharpened and her work updated.
To catch a glimpse of Nina’s works of art, check out one of her most gorgeous pieces ‘Colorgasm‘, a massive 725 x 24076 pixel image with a fun play on lines and colours that makes the experience of scrolling down the incredibly long graphic refreshingly enjoyable.
In the coming months, Nina will be sharing design tips and tricks, and short tutorials on Creative Cloud projects, right here on Creative Dialogue, so don’t forget to check back. Meanwhile, let’s go behind the scenes to find out more about Nina and her design philosophy.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background.
I’m a self-taught designer, currently based in Singapore. After hopping from Skopje to Vienna to Berlin, I ended up in Singapore. I’ve been in the Little Red Dot for more than 2 years and I absolutely love it here, even the weather! My primary focus is product design and illustration, and I also have a strong interest in understanding the business side of things, and closely aligning design goals with business goals.
How did the self-taught design thing come about?
Back in the day, I was part of a laptop quartet – a group of four of us “playing” our laptops like instruments and producing electronic music. We needed someone to design posters for our performances. Since I was the only one who had Adobe Photoshop installed, that “someone” was naturally me. Somehow I ended up loving the whole poster design experience so much that I even stopped performing with the band and focused all my time learning design. All I did was posters all day. It was well worth it though, because 6 months later I got my first job offer.
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
I believe junior designers make the common mistake of focusing purely on aesthetics. That’s why we get so many pretty but completely dysfunctional redesigns of popular websites and apps. And that’s completely normal for a junior designer. The best way to overcome this is to start working on something complex, to jump straight into the fire and try to find a way out of there so that aesthetics isn’t the only focus point.
What advice would you give to someone trying to make a name for themselves in the design world?
I’ve seen great designers who are too shy to share their work with the world. There’s a certain fear of non-acceptance before showing new work to the world, and that’s completely normal. I have it too! However, the benefits of opening up are priceless — new opportunities for collaboration, meeting like-minded people, and even getting a new job.
What is the future of the design industry?
I see a trend where design tools are becoming more accessible to everyone. Eventually, it’ll be all about skill and creativity; years of experience learning complex software won’t count for much in a designer’s CV anymore. And that’s great because there will be more talent than ever. Design innovation will speed up, and there will be new trends coming and going within weeks.
I recently came across an app that packs complex cutting-edge genetic algorithms into a simple, one-tap image processing app. I was amazed at how far we’ve come. This type of powerful tools used to only be available at top research laboratories, but today we all have it at our fingertips.
While we’re at the topic of genetic algorithms, we’ll witness more and more work being done by algorithms until a designer’s job turns into feeding the algorithms with creativity and choosing a creative direction. Imagine being offered many landing pages, and you only need to choose one, ask for improvements and wait for 1 second to see them applied. Design will become much more fast paced. So in a way, a Designer of the future will actually be a Creative Director. That’s how I see it.
As design is getting a more prominent place in the intersection of technology and business, good design will become a stronger predictor for the success of a product/service. Good design used to be a luxury, today it’s a requirement and very soon it won’t be enough. Companies will invest in exceptional design, and that will be the norm. New titles will emerge, new teams will be formed.
Check out Nina’s work on Behance
Watch this space for more.