This is the second part of a two-part series on designer downtime. You can read the first part here.
This week, our product designers take the stage to talk about how their “extracurricular” activities inspire them and feed into their design work here at Prolific.
Sarah Armstrong, Associate Product Designer
I’ve always been really into illustration, so it was only a matter of time before I decided I needed some permanently attached to me. I got my first tattoo the summer I interned here at Prolific; it’s the Mac command key symbol, which is a good talking piece whenever I need to go get my computer fixed at the Apple store. I got my second after I started here full-time: an illustration of a cherry blossom branch that I drew myself. It’s really cool to think about how the designs are going to flow when they’re actually on you, because, unlike a piece of paper or a canvas, bodies aren’t flat! I’ve gotten such positive feedback on my cherry blossom tattoo that I’m now working with a local artist to create a sleeve design, which I’ll hopefully be getting around my one-year, full-time anniversary here at Prolific.
DeAnna Azzolini, Associate Product Designer
As part of my design education, I was required to take almost 2 years’ worth of art history classes. I became fascinated with reading monographs about past artists, their methodologies, and how their works were affected by historical events and culture. I have found that centuries later, modern designers are still drawing from our culture for inspiration in our work, and the way we operate as creatives really hasn’t changed that much, regardless of our mediums! It’s really inspiring to see and experience all of the different approaches artists and designers throughout history have taken to solve creative problems. Living in New York City has also given me so many great opportunities to visit museums and see amazing, innovative works of art up close and in person. It motivates me even more to continue to grow and push the boundaries as a designer.
V Jinangkul, Associate Product Designer
One thing I always do when I’m free is walk around and sight-see the city. I love architecture and urban design. By walking in the city, I’ve found that all cities have their own particular characters; not only how they look, but also how people and culture intertwine with their homes. Even walking the same route, different moments can make scenes totally different and there might be new things to be explored. There is so much stuff that I can see and learn from walking in one city for one time, and of course, they might become inspirations for my work.
Chris Lo, Senior Product Designer
In my spare time, I try to do as much photography work as a I can. I love the challenges and the craft of photography from both a technical and artistic perspective. I’m growing to appreciate shooting in natural light, but I’m happiest in a studio where I can control the light as much as possible.
Allan Lopez, Associate Product Designer
Television is commonly considered a passive pastime, but I like to think of myself as an active TV watcher. There were points in my life when I almost went into the theater world, once through acting and again through set design. Instead, I chose to go into more traditional art, and eventually, product design. We’re in the golden age of television right now and many shows exhibit an attention to detail that makes watching TV really enjoyable. I’ll notice how these shows play with color and design their set pieces. I also really enjoy watching actors perform. I love finding connections between different characters and seeing foreshadowed elements weave throughout episodes, like seeing pieces of the puzzle before the final picture is revealed.
Chris Meyers, Lead Product Designer
I used to fish all the time as a kid. Now that I live in the city I don’t get to do it as much but I still love to go fishing when I get the chance. It’s not just about the actual act of fishing itself. I like the preparation that goes into fishing. You need to know what you’re targeting, where you’re fishing, what kind of lake you’re going to, what the water’s going to be like. It’s a lot more than just baiting your hook and throwing it in the water. There’s a reason they call it fishing, not catching! I’ve had way more bad days than good days but those good days are really rewarding, and that’s what makes it fun. The weather also adds an element of unpredictability — you just never know what you’re going to get.
Pawel Piekarski, Product Designer
Tyler Shick, Senior Product Designer
I feel the most alive when I’m creating. At my core, I am a maker, a starter, and that which I choose to create transcends platform or medium. It is such a privilege to be able to create for a living, but the creativity doesn’t stop at 6 pm when I leave Prolific HQ. Most evenings you’ll find me at my music studio in Bushwick. It’s become a place of making and creation for myself and friends. Whether crafting lyrics or searching for the perfect melody, there’s something so beautiful about the pursuit of art. The journey is unending, with possibilities that outnumber the stars. Its breadth can be scary as hell sometimes, but there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.
Courtney Starr, Product Designer
Being involved in a local church has a significant impact on my design work. It’s a community that constantly reminds me to think about other people (you know, users). Developing empathy for others is far and above one of the best ways I stay focused on the people we design for.
Kenny Yu, Associate Product Designer
Cooking is about experimenting. I enjoy figuring out how every detail, from cutting the ingredients to the tools you use, affect the final outcome — the look and taste. This is similar to the design process, where we craft every little detail to form an experience we want to create.
Helena Zhang, Product Designer
I practice yoga regularly. There is an incredible lightness you achieve after every class. Yoga builds my physical and emotional strength, and teaches me to be more patient and mindful. It brings balance to my life, which helps me be a better person and a better designer.