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Mig Reyes, Designer at Basecamp

Posted on Sep 26, 2014 by

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Mig Reyes is a designer for the hugely influential project management software Basecamp. In addition, he’s extremely active in the design community, creating the popular internet interview series Humble Pied, as well as founding the Chicago chapter of the lecture series Creative Mornings.

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

I’m a traditionally trained graphic designer gone web. I dabbled in freelance, escaped advertising, cut my teeth doing interactive work for Threadless, and finally landed at Basecamp. More here, if you’re curious.

How did you become a digital designer?

While most kids were in extra curricular activities and sports in school, I spent my time digging into this thing called “HTML” with a few friends. Figuring out what computers can do, and how to break the rules, has always stuck with me as my college career turned toward learning design. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design, all of my passions and interests met in the middle, ultimately guiding me to do the work I do today.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Well, I don’t get them from design books and blogs anymore. I get inspiration from seeing other people building new things on their own. I get inspiration from spending time with friends, family and living life. At the end of the day, we design things for people, so we might as well be in the moment with people in real life.

Do you see the design and development worlds colliding?

I think it’s a little silly that there’s an apparent disconnect between design and development. They’re not colliding, they’re married. One needs the other to make something great.

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What are some industry sites or blogs that you read on a regular basis?

I love the Opinion pieces on New York Times, as well as Farnam Street and Open Culture. When you work in the industry, everything and anything interesting will naturally surface, so I don’t spend too much time hunting for industry related news.

What are a few of your favorite design software tools, and why? (Web frameworks, Adobe software, etc.)

Paper, Sharpie, Jekyll, Pow. It’s fun to learn new technology, but more and more you start to realize they’re just abstractions of what we already know—the basics.

Could you describe what a normal day of work looks like for you?

There is never a normal day at Basecamp. One day it’s working on a Basecamp marketing idea at our beautiful office in the West Loop, the next day may be art directing the next issue of The Distance at one of my favorite Wicker Park coffee shops. The lack of routine is one of many reasons that excites me about working at Basecamp.

What do you think is the most intimidating thing for first-time developers (or new designers) who want to get started? How do you think they can overcome this?

The blank screen, the blank page. It gives anxiety to most everyone. The first step? Make a mark, don’t erase, and keep on plowing.

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

Start by scratching your own itches, and learn how to learn. Tutorials, newsletters, and books can give you surface-level guidance. You don’t really start understanding what you’re doing until you actually dive in. So dive in.

Do you have any thoughts on what the future of digital design is?

Just a few years ago, no one could have predicted designers would be doing this kind of work. But you saddle up, keep an open mind for change, and ride along. Why start speculating about the future now?

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