Greg Kedzierski, Founder & CEO of Weld Digital
Greg Kedzierski is a freelance Creative Developer who's works have won numerous awards, one of which even launched by President Obama.
Where do you work and what is your current title?
I currently have my own consultancy business and help clients as a freelancer. I’m also a founder and CEO at Weld Digital, a new startup that builds software products for corporate transportation industry.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
I grew up in Lodz, a large industrial city in the center of Poland, studied computer engineering and worked as a software developer for several advertising agencies and production companies. Currently I’m living in Manchester, United Kingdom.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
As far back as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to be an engineer of some sort. When I got my first computer, a Commodore 64, when I was 8 years old, I quickly got bored of playing games and instead started reading user’s manual which contained source code listings. I learned basics of programming this way, started building my own, simple games and, at this point, I was hooked. Everything that followed, including my focus on exact sciences at school, the way I spent my free time and the major I chose at the university, was a natural consequence. In retrospect, I’ve never had any job that wouldn’t be related to technology of some sort.
What was your first design job? Any interesting stories about how you broke into the field?
The epicenter of the advertising industry in Europe has always been in UK, so as soon as I graduated from high school, I cold emailed multiple agencies in England asking if I could come for the summer. Much to my surprise, I got a reply from a quite large company based in Northampton, near London, and a few days later was boarding the plane. I’ve already had some experience in working on commercial projects as a freelancer, so I guess that helped.
Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?
I think, like most freelancers and business owners, there is no such thing as a typical day for me. My responsibilities would depend on whether I have any ongoing freelance projects, have any meeting with the clients or I’m travelling for business. Nevertheless, coding still takes up a large part of my work day. At Weld Digital, we solve complex problems in the complicated and regulated industry, which involve both hardware and software, so while the business side of things is interesting, it’s the actual technology that makes me excited every day.
Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how the industry works?
It’s not really a single interaction but I’ve learned from years and years of working on the projects in the industry, that money should never be your only priority. It’s OK to reject well-paid but morally questionable jobs and, on the other hand, it’s sometimes worth doing great things for less. The most successful project that I’ve been involved in, by far, is Slavery Footprint, an interactive survey created for a charitable organization that can tell you approximately how many slaves have pitched in to make the goods you enjoy on a daily basis. It was a great success not in a financial but a moral sense. And, I must admit, the fact that it was officially launched by the US president Barack Obama and is being used by millions of people helped to open many doors for me.
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
The most common mistake I see is focusing on the solution, instead of the problem. When you learn a new technology, you tend to find every possible use case for it, even if it’s not the best possible solution. So a good piece of advice is to take every new cool thing with a pinch of salt. Keep up-to-date on your industry but usually it’s the old, proven technology that’s the right choice in business environment.
Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?
I really believe that inspiration can come from unexpected places, especially the ones that are not directly related to what you are doing, so I try to read everything I can get my hands on. Usually my Twitter feed and curated Facebook lists are a good source of inspiration, I’m also on the path to achieving my goal, which is to finish 25 non-technical books this year. There are a few resources however which everyone in the industry should be familiar with. Apart from the magazines like Net and Adweek or blogs like A List Apart and Smashing Magazine, I always like to browse the latest winners of Awwwards and The FWA – they’re great places to get a feeling of the current trends!
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
Work for free if you need to, or build a pet project. This way you will stand out and have a much greater chance of getting noticed. Also, remember that your university degree or grades don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the quality of your work.
What do you think is the future of your industry?
The old-fashioned world of advertising no longer exists and that’s a fact. We’re moving to very focused, data-driven campaigns. Also, while Internet of Things is just a buzz-word, I’m excited about what’s behind it – the number of connected devices and sensors around us will only keep growing, and the devices we own will keep getting more and more personal. There will be a lot of marketing opportunities in that, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the industry uses its potential.
You can follow Greg @GKedzierski