005 : Fostering good design when you’re artistically inept with Mike Blea

NNL PodcastI first met Mike Blea (of Michael Blea Design) when I worked at LAPTOP Magazine. He was part of the magazine’s design team, building the magazine’s layout, mocking up covers, and helping with graphics for web. We’ve remained friends even after both of us left that job, and Mike even helped me design the cover for 8 Things to Learn Before Making Your App.

I wanted to bring Mike on the show to have a fresh perspective on building products. I, personally, am completely design challenged — a glaringly apparent fact when looking at the first version of my first app Reader Tracker. I’ve learned a lot about the value of good design since then, and Mike has definitely helped me out along the way.

Mike gives some insights into the life of a professional designers and shares some tips for hiring a freelance designer of your own. If you work it right, you won’t end up spending a fortune.

Here’s what we chat about:

  • Going from mocking art to making a living from it
  • Getting Photoshop doesn’t make you a designer any more than Xcode will make you a developer
  • How to foster an appreciation for art
  • How a background in math and science can help make better art
  • Why it’s important to start with pen and paper
  • Why people are so over Christmas by the end of the season
  • The difference between Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Why user interface design is so different from traditional print layouts
  • What to look for when hiring a freelance designer

Links mentioned in this show include:

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Are there any user experience designs that drive you absolutely crazy? Let us know in the comments below!

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Theme music by the talented Will Larche.

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