Ryan Duffy, Graphic Designer at Comcast
Ryan Duffy is an upcoming and coming designer. In addition to be his day job at Comcast, he's also the creator and curator of Symmetry Tutorials, a fantastic web series with a ton of amazing video content.
Where do you work and what is your current title?
Currently I work at Comcast in Philadelphia as an Associate Graphic designer; All-Digital design direction team.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself & your background.
For most of my life, I’ve in Philly and I recently graduated from Antonelli Institute with a degree in Graphic design. In high school I started a YouTube channel dedicated to uploading tutorials for creatives. Videos ranging from Photoshop tutorials, video editing , motion graphics and more. I was able to build a small following off the channel, which really helped me expand my brand. I’ve done freelance work throughout most of my High school / college career dealing with a wide array of clients – from YouTubers, small businesses and local start-ups. I’ve also met and worked with a lot of talented young creatives at Lghtsbr, a small online digital agency that a few of my friends decided to start-up.
I work in UX, but I have a strong passion for branding and print design.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
Early in high school, I created video game content that I uploaded to YouTube for other people to watch. I wanted to try and “make it big” because that was around the time people started making a living off YouTube. So I wanted to be a part of that, and most big YouTubers had a really strong brand identity/message…At the time I didn’t know that, but I started exploring how to get Photoshop, video editing programs, etc that would help me build this brand that I was trying to achieve. While my gaming channel never took off, I took a strong interest in video editing and motion graphics and I found a program call Cinema 4D and thats really where things started to kickoff for me.
What was your first design job? Any interesting stories about how you broke into the field?
My current job at Comcast is actually my first full-time position outside of college and freelance work. I started about ~4 month ago, so each day I’m learning something new and adapting to this work environment. And just like any job, you learn from your mistakes – don’t be afraid to fail as a designer, it’s our job to fail.
Please describe a normal day at your current job. What’s the workflow like? What are your primary responsibilities?
Each morning I get in and catch up on emails and plan out my day around meetings. It’s a fast paced environment with things always changing and evolving – never a dull day. The people I work along side with are extremely talented and the atmosphere is great. It’s my team job to create design patterns that other UX and dev teams use to insure a consistent visual hierarchy across all of our projects. It’s our responsibility to provide creative direction and work alongside other UX/Dev teams to make sure they are aligned with our digital design standards. I’m able to work on a wide array projects considering my position – such as conceptualizing ideas for new and current projects, creating animated prototypes and just about everything else in-between.
Are there any memorable war stories, client interactions or close calls that have taught you something important about how things work?
When I did freelance, each client project posed interesting obstacles – nothing that couldn’t be overcome or designed around though. But something that came up time and time again is contract negotiations. Once in a while I would get a project that took more time talking about contracts then I did actual design work. These situations really hindered how I worked and truthfully could have been avoided from the start if I took the time to revise my contracts. While it may seem like a small hiccup, sometimes that could really effect the relationship with the client. So eventually I took the time and wrote up multiple contracts that were super clear and I could easily tailor them to different clients depending on the project needs, etc.
Just that one little experience taught me so much about the freelance world and from there on I had a better understanding and appreciation of what makes a good designer/client relationship.
What’s a common mistake you often see entry level designers make? What are some tips to avoid or overcome it?
I’m still a very young designer and I still have a lot to learn. But just graduating school a few months ago and seeing my peers go through the same thing I’m doing can really put things into perceptive. I see a lot of people not asking questions, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I see myself not asking enough questions a lot and i’m really trying to change that. Because when I do start asking questions and really ask “why”, I’m able to learn more and things become more transparent; thus benefiting my designs in the long run. Also: We can’t be afraid to fail as a designer – it’s our job to fail, it’s expected of us. Learning from our mistakes is the only way we can get better.
Any industry sites or blogs you read on a regular basis, or anything else you read for inspiration?
I believe dribbble is a strong tool (if you know how to properly use it). It’s a good source to find inspiration as well as a way to learn more about local creatives in my area. I also like to visit sites like DesignMilk and Abduzeedo + most of your typical design sites/blogs. I recently also just got a fantastic book called “MIN” by Stuart Tolley – I’ve only just skimmed it so far, but I’m looking forward to diving more into it. Look like it’s going to be a fantastic read!
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?
I’m super excited about InVision’s new documentary Design Disruptors. It Looks promising and i’ll be attending a local screening soon, so I’m really looking forward to that!
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
Don’t stop being passionate; Don’t doubt yourself, – Just keep designing and don’t stop. I see a lot of people my age who are either studying graphic design or looking to pursue it that aren’t putting themselves out there. I’m not talking about how many followers you have, forget about that. I’m talking being visible and having regularly updated content. As a designer and especially as a freelancer, you have to be visible. If you reverse-search yourself via search engine or whatever and can’t find yourself – then neither can potential clients or employers.
It may seem hard to upload regularly and keep all your content updated across multiple platforms – I struggle with that too. It’s about trying to post daily or even weekly quality content that makes YOU happy; find your niche and work it. There are many daily challenges that you can do – you can even create your own challenge and rules. But one that I can recommend is the DailyUI challenge. I decide to take on this 100 day challenge and it had benefits beyond my comprehension, if you are serious about UX/UI design then I’d recommend partaking.
What do you think is the future of your industry?
I think that a lot more people are becoming more design aware and really observing how thing work + look. And that is good because it will challenge us to work harder and produce more innovative, smart, engaging content. If your app or website is poorly designed, people won’t use – it’s that simple. Gone are the days of poorly designed apps/websites. Design is at the forefront of our daily lives and what we make has a powerful influence on people.
So I belive the future is what we make it to be – Design owns the future.