Design Director at a Design Studio
Amit Patel is a Design Director at his own LA-based design studio.
Where do you work and what is your current title?
I work as a Design Director at a small boutique Design Studio that I run with my partner – Xiana Torres. She manages the Studio’s daily Operations side of things.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
I started my career as a Computer Graphics Engineer at a start-up in Los Angeles, shortly after moving to California. I worked at the start-up for 3.5 years before I decided to take a the leap from the technical and programming side of things to pursuing the creative side of things. Initially as an engineer my job was to create software that enabled creatives to create what they wanted to and pursue their ambitions. Later I realized that I enjoyed being on the other side more than having to work on just the technical side of things. However, having that technical know-how, enabled me to push things further on the creative side.
Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?
Everyday we work collectively as a team to strategize on how to expand and grow the Studio. Most days, I’m designing the PSD high fidelity files for our website and projects. We check in with the developers for status on progress and provide the files and info they need to proceed. We work on marketing the studio and the accounts.
Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how things work?
We are fortunate enough to positively memorable clients stories given the body of our work so far. However, there have been times where we have to sit back as a team and decide as a team if we will take a certain client project or not. But, I won’t go into the details here, I like to think positively.
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
Often times I have seen that people who are new to the field tend to focus on a narrowly defined set of problems as constrained within their particular discipline. For example a UX designer tends to work only with specifications, flowcharts and won’t step out of anything that is beyond their comfort levels. Or a visual designer will only focus on defining color palettes, fonts etc. again ignoring other details that all contribute towards a holistic design of a product. While I understand that every individual has their own specialities that they would like to focus on, I think it is equally essential to have an overall understanding of all the disciplines that encapsulated the entire product design process. This also provides a much deeper insight into the complexities involved within the field, which is crucial for long-term success.
Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?
Behance, TED, 99% Invisible (Podcast), 99u, Medium, Creative Review, IdN, Visual Hierarchy, Wired, Fast Company, My Modern Met, Platform Thinking Labs and anything I can get my hands on!
There’s something new and amazing coming out every day. What’s something awesome you’ve seen recently that you’re dying to share, or something you’re excited about?
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
Work hard, look deeper, be curious and never quit learning!
What do you think is the future of your industry?
Our industry is changing at a rapid pace everyday. We have seen the change the shift in mobile platforms going from an emerging technology to the focal point of our current lives. The same can be expected in the field of automation, biotechnology, media and its consumption etc. Design will play an increasingly influential role across all of these discipline in the future. The line between design, business and technology will continue to blur. Design had already become multi-disciplinary and it will only continue to become even more hybrid. The more the designer understands how business and technology works, the more valuable they will be to society overall.