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Ferg Flannery, Freelance Digital Designer at Studio Say Do

Posted on May 4, 2017 by

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Ferg Flannery a talented multi-discplinary designer currently based out of NYC.

Where do you work and what is your current title?

I work as a freelance digital designer and I run NiceyNYC

NiceyNYC is an experiment that was created out of my own excel list of places to drink and eat that I was preparing in advance of a friend visiting NYC. In a place like NYC, like any large city, it can be daunting to make a decision on places to go to, so I decided to create a randomizer to do the work instead. I began to build on the process and moved it online and thus NiceyNYC was born. The website is about to roll out in late March and hopefully will serve as a good tool for us poor souls who have a hard time deciding or as a way of discovering new and interesting places.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.

I am a self-taught designer, in the industry for more than 15 years. I moved over from Ireland to New York in 2015, with my Fiancé. I’ve worn many hats throughout the years in the industry, in Web, Print and Digital. Working across many industries has helped me remain wide eyed about my approach and practice to design.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?

I always had a creative streak along side a big love of computers and technology. I always thoughts I would end up in Programming but my creativity took over. After temp-ing at a web design agency for a summer job when I was a teenager, I realized I could combine technology and my creativity as a career and it took off from there.

What was your first design job? Any interesting stories about how you broke into the field?

I began way back in the first dot com boom, working as a search engine optimizer (long before SEO was a thing) back linking and writing sitemaps and keywords. I worked a lot with the development and design teams and got taken under the wing of the design team who gifted me with my first copy of Photoshop (version 5.0!) I got a feel for the industry quite early and was quite taken by the process and approach to design and development. I became obsessed with Photoshop, doing all nighters learning the tools and techniques by trial and error. 


Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?

First things first, after a morning briefing with my cat Pixel over a strong coffee, I answer most emails and set the action list for the day. This consists of project management, timelines and estimations of design time. Most of my morning is research and discovery for the tasks ahead, including some inspiration browsing of design blogs. After all the admin is completed, I usually don’t start to designing until late morning and this flows all the way till late in the day. I like to set aside some time towards the end of the day to seek out a new technique or skill and have a bit of fun I call these my daily Doodles. Sometimes, though not always the doodles spark off some ideas for a project I am working on or help fuel a personal project or just an exercise to keep my creative juices flowing. 

Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how things work?

I have survived my years as a designer without any scrapes. There most certainly have been a few big speed bumps along the way the moral of the story is make sure you get a sign off before you print 20,000 brochures (!). Always get a sign off. 

What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?

I have had the pleasure of working with and mentoring students, graduates and even self-taught designers in the past. I love the energy, enthusiasm and concepts that are brought to the table. It also helps light a fire under the rest of us to stay on the top of our game. I’ve seen new designers produce some stunning work but missing the brief by trying to fit the latest trends without considering the context. Our job as designers is communication, we have limited time with our audience. It is important to remember to remove yourself from the process at times and consider the how your designs will be consumed. And never make assumptions that you cannot validate.

Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?

Designspiration, FFFFound, Behance, Dribble, Under Consideration, 99% Invisible, etc. the usual. I am a huge science and space buff so every day I look at something like the NASA image of the day and that usually starts the engine, but inspiration tends to come from the oddest places, sometimes mundane and uninteresting. And of course, I need music and lots of it jazz, hip-hop or anything electronic usually keeps my brain cruising.

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?

Mixed Reality (MR) is by far the most exciting areas I have seen in my career. I have worked on Augmented Reality (AR) projects for quite a few years and have seen it go from strength to strength and now it’s on the cusp of going full mainstream. With the major advancements in Virtual Reality (VR) in recent years and the backing of big name players in the AR space, we are about to see a big breakout of the field and commercial adoption across many industries. The cross over of both fields will see the explosion of a new wave of design. It will change the way we view design from both sides of the spectrum how we as creatives explore it as a new channel and how it is consumed.  

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?

Learn, Learn and learn some more. The landscape of learning is so much more different then when I started. When I started, I sat down with Photoshop and learned it inside out by trial and error, but now a days you can ramp up your skills so fast with tutorials and videos on youtube, but this also comes with its own unique problems basic skills are not taught or bad practices are not shaken. Even now, I still set aside some time every day to learn a new skill or perfect my existing skill sets. I like to focus on self initiated personal projects all the time. I think it is a very important tool to help designers always stay on top of their skills and help hone in on creative thinking. It’s important to play and make mistakes, otherwise design gets boring and repetitive. 

What do you think is the future of your industry?

We are going through a fascinating creative swell at the moment advancements in new tech and new hardware, such as AR/VR have made an exciting new channel of engagement and play, while influences from communities such as the Makers movement and Hack-a-tons have added a playing approach to creation and I think this is going to have a long term effect. Gone are the days of spending 4k on hardware and software just to get started it is bringing creation into the hands of everyone.


Instagram @studiosaydo

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