This post is part of Flywheel’s “Designer Spotlight” series, which features an interview with a designer/coder/mover/shaker who uses Flywheel.
Bryan Monzon. He leads the dev team at Fifty & Fifty, a creative agency in San Diego that works solely with nonprofits. In his free time, Bryan is a freelance designer and developer.
What do you do in your spare time?
I design websites and more recently (and more often) I build them too. I do triathlons, run trails and coach a high school swim team.
What do you like best about the design community in your area?
I love learning from the community. I wouldn’t have grown into much of a designer if I didn’t have the community around me as I do. Even though the industry can be quite cynical and mean at times, overall it’s been good to me.
What’s your workspace like?
Our offices are in the middle of the Gaslamp Quarter across the street from Petco Park (home of the Padres baseball team). We have about 10 guys in office and a couple that work remotely. It’s an open space in a 101 year old historical building.
How long have you worked as a designer?
I’ve worked as a designer in various formats, ranging from motion graphics to web for almost 13 years now.
Is there something that sparked your interest in design?
I did a terrible logo for a friend when I was 19 in Photoshop 6. It was bad. My friend used it for everything and it was really cool to see the logo on shirts and company vans. I realized I could be artistic and my art could have purpose.
Where do you find inspiration when you design?
I pull a lot of inspiration from Designspiration. It’s not really anything web, it just has a lot of interesting and unique designs from different disciplines.
What are three things you to do get the creative juices flowing when you’ve hit a roadblock?
1. A solid trail/mountain run (the longer the run the better)
3. Travel (Something about sitting in an airport and an airplane that gives you time to just think)
What are some bands/artists you listen to while you’re designing?
I might be an odd man out here but I don’t listen to anything when I’m working.
What’s a project that you’re really proud of? Why?
I’m most proud of our work on the Kony 2012 campaign we did with Invisible Children. It struck a nerve with the world and blew up. I have never seen traffic (50,000+ concurrents) on a website before. I think, Mend is still in the top 5 of my favorite projects I’ve worked on, both design and dev. Lastly, Donately has been really fun to design and build. It’s a rails app intended to help organizations improve the online donation experience. It’s been a labor of love and is finally starting to build a little momentum.
What’s the best part of your day as a designer?
File > New. The blank canvas is the best part. It’s like the beginning of a new sports season. You’re undefeated and optimistic. Even better part is nailing a client’s expectations.
What’s the hardest part about being a designer?
2 things are tough really. The first, is that it always takes time. No matter the level, perfecting your craft takes time. And if you’re really honest with yourself, you’re never going to perfect this craft. Styles change and there are always challenges to overcome. The second tough part is that it’s art and art is generally subjective to the one looking at it. There’s always a level anxiety when you’ve spent an enormous amount of time making hundreds of decisions only to be shot down in an instant and humbled. The flip side is when you nail it. That’s the best feeling.
If you couldn’t design, what would you do?
If I couldn’t design or dev websites, I’d do something outdoors. I’d coach swim or triathletes or hike and run with my pup, Reagan.
Have a favorite design-related website?
Iceber.gs, Dribbble, Teehan+Lax, Designspiration
Any up-and-coming designers who you think are awesome?
I think our designers here at Fifty & Fifty are awesome, Kevin O’Connor and Javan Van Gronigen, although they’re not really up-and-comers. I think Marcus Price and Steve Witmer are also incredible designers, he is one of the in-house designers for Invisible Children.
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