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AMA: Tobias van Schneider, Designer & Maker

almost 4 years ago from

Hi friends

Thanks a lot Maxwell & the DN team for inviting me to this AMA.

I'm Tobias, a self-taught designer & maker. Over the last couple years I had the opportunity to work with many great agencies & clients on a wide range of products. In case you like the full bio, it's here.

I originally started as a software engineer about 12 years ago, then opened my own design studio for a couple years. (focused on print & branding first) Then I closed my studio, went to work with a few different agencies (mostly interactive) and ended up as Art Director & Product Design Lead at Spotify in New York.

Now I'm independent again, taking a break and learning new skills. I also love taking pictures. And trying to write more recently, it's like meditation but with spectators.

Besides helping to build Spotify in the last few years, I also worked on:

  • Co-Founding Semplice, a portfolio tool used by thousands of lovely creatives around the world.

  • Creating my own beard oil together with Beardbrand, because beards!!

  • Creating a stupid weather app called Authentic Weather which is used by millions of crazy people.

  • Working on the first digital mirror for the fashion industry. It's called memomi, and we started rolling out our mirrors in the last few months. Excited!

You can pretty much ask me anything, but I love answering questions about: Taking risks, being self-taught, keeping things stupid, side projects, personal growth, building products... you get the idea.

I'll start answering starting Tuesday, 10am EST - Thanks for having me! Twitter at @schneidertobias in case you like to message me there.

78 comments

  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, almost 4 years ago

    Hey there good sir,

    How instrumental was your beard in propelling you to the peak of the design community?

    You can say zero, but I shall call you a liar.

    -Andrew

    26 points
    • , almost 4 years ago

      Hi Andrew

      I would even go that far and say that growing my beard is the only thing I'm truly talented at. Therefore, my beard is not only instrumental, but probably the only thing I have! (because I'm a terrible designer)

      Besides that - I do not see myself at the peak of the design community, just look at my karma points on my profile. Horrible...Horrible...

      PS: Loving your questions!

      18 points
      • Nate vNate v, almost 4 years ago

        I would even go that far and say that growing my beard is the only thing I'm truly talented at.

        :'(

        3 points
  • Matthew VernonMatthew Vernon, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Hi Tobias!

    You're obviously a very entrepreneurial designer, and I'm wondering – How do you find the balance between launching a product you're proud of, and launching a product early so you can recieve feedback and start earning money.

    I often find myself working on projects for months without ever releasing them, because the designer in me is always finding fault.

    11 points
    • Patrick SmithPatrick Smith, almost 4 years ago

      Yes me too! Great question.

      3 points
    • , almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Hi Matthew

      That's a pretty good question, especially because I ask this myself a lot.

      When I started as a designer I was always a perfectionist, I had a hard time finishing projects and wanted to refine it till it's dead.

      Today I see things a little bit differently, and for some reason my focus has shifted over the years. I often reflect on that myself, because I'm unsure if it's a good or bad thing.

      While I still value great design, and I still value delight in every detail that makes great design, I'm obsessed with shipping fast and learning along the way.

      For me it's just a matter of priorities. I often have to force myself with fake deadlines to finish something, even if it's not perfect. In reality, it will never be finished anyway.

      I have high respect for people who build things, ship them, and earn money with it from day one. A designer/entrepreneur who has a product out there, even if just 10 people are paying for it, is in my opinion way ahead of those who are still posting concept shots on Dribbble.

      I think at some point in my career I changed my mindset to: "It's good enough, let's fix it later". Of course this highly depends on the product itself, but often times what you believe is good enough, is pretty good for everyone else. So only you see the difference, and I expect you/me to continue refining it anyway.

      So in general, I like to launch early but still want to make sure the experience is great. You can always cut down on scope & features while still maintaining what some might call "the minimum lovable product". And I know, this is difficult because it goes against your perfectionism and probably against the design community who will slap you for not making things pixel perfect.

      I think the one thing that makes designers great (perfectionism) is also the thing that makes them the worst people to work with.

      For me, entrepreneur inside me has taken over more and more over the last couple years I would say.

      Hope that answered your question Matthew! (: It's a good one, I keep asking this myself everyday!

      12 points
      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, almost 4 years ago

        Great answer!

        Also, how do you manage your time between projects? Do they overlap? Do you strictly try to work on 1 at a time?

        1 point
        • , almost 4 years ago

          Hi Jonathan

          They constantly overlap! Once I get bored or I'm stuck at one, I continue on the other one. With that, I keep good momentum going and keep myself in the zone. I think one project would not work for me, because if I would get stuck or have a creative block, I would just sit on the couch watching TV.

          1 point
  • Steve Luvender, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Hey Tobias, what was the point where you realized you wanted to be independent again? How did you respond (or did you respond?) to friends and family who thought you were crazy and you seemingly went from everything to nothing? Do other people understand this concept?

    I'm also curious, when you decide to focus on your side projects, do you tend to go all-in, or do you overlap with your other efforts? (For example, how did you manage Semplice time vs. Spotify time?)

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It's incredibly inspiring. I'm self-taught as well and I've worked at an agency for the past eight years (since I was 17, starting in high school). The past 18 months I've had a successful launch of a fun side project turned business and I've used that for supplemental income -- not quite day job-quitting, but probably more than half of what my day job represents. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were almost comfortable enough to jump head-first into something else?

    Thanks for your time and for being an all-around good guy.

    8 points
    • , almost 4 years ago

      Hi Steve!

      Thanks a lot for your questions and your kind words! Lets do it! (:

      1. I actually reflected on this topic a little more in detail in my most recent Email. In general, the realization kicked in when I started to feel too comfortable. I like to be challenged, and I like the feeling to be forced to stand on my toes at all times. I think the fact that I always had my own company shaped the way of how I think about freedom.

      When looking back at my life, I always had these moments. Dropping out of high school, quitting my first career, closing my own studio, leaving my home town etc. I think there is some kind of urge inside me that likes to start something new, re-align myself with my core values and rushing into the unknown. It's like taking a cold shower, it wakes you up and makes you more alert. It's hard at first, but once you did it you feel great.

      1. I think people who are close to me understand it, but mostly because they see a pattern and know that I will be fine. Otherwise, as you already mentioned, it's really hard for people to understand. There is no logical reason stop climbing a career ladder, at least not in the society we grow up in.

      2. My time management is honestly all over the place. Spotify has been very supportive with my side-projects and I usually worked on them at nights or on the weekends, which is enough time for smaller (stupid) side-projects. A lot of my side-projects are also projects I did internally, you can call them side-projects for the company related to the product you are working on.

      It also always depends on my personal involvement. Some side-projects I'm heavily involved in, others I'm more of an advisor. There is always a strong team behind each of them. I love working with other people.

      1. That is so great to hear! If you can, please share your project with me on Twitter! And to your question: I've had this feeling a couple times already in my career, but I rarely jump head-first into it, at least not into a single project. I personally believe in optimizing for multiple revenue streams. Some might disagree, but for me it's the source of happiness on all levels. (financially and personal growth)

      Thanks a lot for your questions Steve & Being so nice!

      12 points
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, almost 4 years ago

    Toe-bye-us, Toe-bee-us, Tobey-as, or none of the above?

    7 points
    • Kat Bak, almost 4 years ago

      Oh my god I want to know this too. I've been saying Toe-bye-us.

      1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hey Andrew

      Your questions are sugar! So, the correct way would be Toe-Bee-Us - That's how it works in Germany.

      Usually though, when I'm introducing myself in the United States I introduce myself as Toe-bye-us. Based on data I've gathered in A/B tests for many years, I can tell you that every time I introduce myself as "Toe-bye-us" chances are by 83% higher than usual that new connections will remember my name.

      Therefore, even if "Toe-bye-us" is not the correct pronunciation, it clearly performs better in all aspects.

      10 points
  • Hung LeHung Le, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias

    Thank you for taking the time to read and answer our questions on DN.

    I find one of the most challenging thing in managing a team (I mean my whole team, not just dev or design or sale ..) is making people work well together. I discovered that one of the root causes is lack of understanding about other's jobs and their responsibility.

    So my question(s) is how would you go about creating empathetic among people? In your experience working in a team, what might be other causes that need attention as well?

    Thanks!

    3 points
  • Miguel Solorio, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias, what would be your best advice for an aspiring beard-grower? Also, how long did it take you to grow your beard to its current state?

    On a serious note, what is biggest lesson you've learned while working in the design industry?

    3 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Miguel

      Nice to meet you! And YEAH! Finally some beard questions, YES!

      1. My current beard in my current state and length I have for about 2 years max. I'm trimming it around every 4 weeks so it doesn't get much longer. I like the length of it right now and everything longer gets a little annoying.

      2. The biggest lesson I learned is that no one has figured it out. We're very much at the beginning. I see this as something positive, exciting and motivating. We're all in this together, equally able to ask questions.

      3 points
      • Kat Bak, over 3 years ago

        I read that second answer as if it was about beards and I was a little confused.

        6 points
  • Dan CortesDan Cortes, almost 4 years ago

    You have a fantastic beard, and every time I see it I get a little jealous that I can barely grow any facial hair. I can grow a mustache, but that's about it. So, should I do it? Should I grow a mustache?

    2 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Dan

      Haha, you're amazing! So you can grow a good mustache but not a beard? That is actually pretty awesome.

      Growing a mustache comes with benefits, but also great responsibilities.

      Here some points:

      1. Your partner has to approve, a mustache is like wearing cowboy boots. If you do it the right way, it can actually look pretty good. If you do it wrong, you look like a creep.

      2. If it's a nice compact "turkish mustache" you are fine. They are easy to maintain, and besides drinking milk out of big cups you do not need to fear anything.

      3. Combining a nice and tidy mustache with a 3 day beard is actually pretty awesome, especially if you have a dark or grey beard. You can wear it like Nick Wooster

      So in short: DO IT DAN! (:

      5 points
  • Kat Bak, almost 4 years ago

    Do you have a handful of designers that you consider idols, or that inspired you to become a designer? Are they current peers and contemporaries, or more design greats like Saul Bass or Eric Gill?

    Do you mind when people reply to your email newsletters? If you don't like it then uh... sorry about that.

    Respect you and your work very much and always love to see you around the design community. Keep it up.

    2 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Katja

      Nice to see you here! Let's get right to your questions:

      1. Oddly enough I don't. I got into design mostly for practical reasons. I was an engineer and just wanted to make my interfaces more useable & better looking. At that time I did not know much about the design community.

      Along the way I remember I had a few hero that influenced & motivated me, most of them around the flash era. Robert Lindström from North Kingdom, 2Advanced, Tokyoplastic and so on. That was early 2000.

      Since then I mostly get motivated by other people outside of the design industry, ranging from Elon Musk to Tim Ferris or even people who are not alive anymore (: I'm inspired by makers, rebels and people who just get shit done. I love reading about business, psychology & art.

      1. I don't mind it at all! I even appreciate it and always try to get back to everyone as good as I can!

      Thanks for being awesome Katja! You keep it up as well!

      3 points
      • Kat Bak, almost 4 years ago

        Awesome answer Tobias! It's vital to take inspiration and motivation from outside ones own field. It's a great way to innovate. And the desire to make something look and function better is a noble one - nice work.

        Enjoy the rest of the AMA.

        0 points
  • Kevin RabinovichKevin Rabinovich, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias,

    What advice do you have for young designers & students?

    2 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Kevin

      Wow, that's an open ended question, but here are my essentials:

      1. Be Curious, never stop asking. Always be curious, never settle and think you have arrived. You will hopefully never arrive, and that's the best part about it.

      2. Fuck the process. Love the process. All eyes on the cake at all times. This is how we get shit done. Never focus on the process for the sake of the process, that's how politics work. Focus on the cake, and once you have it, appreciate the process because the process is what you will remember, and what will help you grow as a person.

      The process is evil while you haven't reached the goal, it's easy to fall in love with the process and never finish anything. But then again you should and will value the process after you went through it. I know, it's confusing.

      1. Nothing will happen overnight Keep on moving, keep staying busy and get good work done. There is no shortcut. As Kevin Durant already said “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

      Magic happens when hard work & preparation meets opportunities. Both is in your control.

      Happy Tuesday Kevin!

      12 points
  • Caleb JessieCaleb Jessie, almost 4 years ago

    Tobias! All the work I see you put out is amazing and I admire your thoughts on life..

    One thing I struggle with is feeling lethargic after a full days of work. How do you maintain the willpower to take risks and to get shit done such as a side project?

    Also, what are your top favorite philosophical books and do you have any writings of your own?

    2 points
    • Shane CShane C, almost 4 years ago

      I feel the same way. I always feeling really enthusiastic about doing a side-project when it gets really close to go to bed-time. I usually just say ‘If I start this now I’ll be up until 5am’, so I tell myself that tomorrow evening I’m definitely going to work on this side-project. Then I just feel tired in the evening because I’ve just finished work or have just eaten.

      I guess the key is to either get up really early or go to bed really late. Otherwise maybe power naps (15 minutes maximum) are the answer to staying energised.

      2 points
      • Caleb JessieCaleb Jessie, over 3 years ago

        I think you're on to something Shane. Sometimes I forget that it takes time to grow!

        0 points
      • Marko VuleticMarko Vuletic, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

        Have you heard of the book called "Execute"? I think you should really read it. The author states that you should always act immediately when you are in the state of actually trying to do something. You will get more done because you're already in the zone. If you postpone it you might not feel it anymore when you get back to it later. It's natural. We can't just recreate the emotions out of nothing.

        I totally feel you that it's hard since that happens so late in the day. I think what I'd do on your place is try to investigate what triggers these bursts of excitement/motivation at that particular time and try to find the patterns to help replicate the feeling when necessary. Cheers! :)

        0 points
  • Saxon Fletcher, almost 4 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time Tobias. Your work is a huge inspiration to many people within the design community, myself included.

    My question is around time management and motiviation. How do you manage/split your time across your many different side projects + day job + life? How do you consistently stay motivated and inspired?

    Thanks!

    2 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Saxon!

      Is that your real name? Because it's a pretty sweet name. Thanks so much for your kind words, it's highly appreciated (:

      For the first question, I hope you're ok with me copying this from above:

      1. I admit, I have horrible time management. I approach my projects the same way as I approach reading a book. If I'm stuck at one, I will put it away and continue on the other. (that's why I read 3 at a time) If daily or weekly sprints happen, then only because of coincidence. The moment I experience "flow" I will stay in one project until the point I will lose "flow".

      This usually helps me to stay inspired, stay fresh and keep myself busy. Of course, depending on the problems you are solving on a particular project, I sometimes force myself to stick with it for a little longer. But then again, if you're stuck and you have other projects sitting around, why not rotate when you can? (:

      1. Time management in terms of life: I consider my work to be my life, I have so much fun with it that I rarely do anything else. I don't watch TV, I very rarely play computer games, and the last time I went out partying was years ago.

      I love working and make no difference between job/life. It's all one thing, of course balanced out as good as I can. But I don't see work & enjoyment as two opposites. (I think we, most of us here, are lucky to have the opportunity to see it that way)

      1. I stay motivated by trying to keep up the momentum. I'm a very lazy person. If you would know how much I sleep and procrastinate, you wouldn't believe me. Thats very dangerous for me. Keeping up the momentum and always have my desk full of projects helps me to keep running.

      The moment I finish something, the moment I slow down, I can almost feel this big black hole of laziness eating me up. Then I start running again, and things are fine.

      PS: I also wrote this article about "The Inspiration Lie" a while ago which you might enjoy reading.

      Yay, Tobias

      4 points
  • Emman Calabroso, almost 4 years ago

    Do you find it hard to leave a company such as Spotify?

    What is it like as a designer for Spotify? Could you share some unique design processes you adapted while working there?

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Emman

      Nice to meet you! Yes, I find it very hard. Luckily I will stay as a consultant and good friend of the team. Leaving a team that you really enjoyed working is always painful, but for some reason I don't feel like I'm really leaving - I'm just not there full-time anymore.

      Being a designer at Spotify is amazing. It's easily the best team I ever worked with. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, but it is very rare that you feel like you REALLY liked & connected with every single designer on the team. The team is thoughtful, friendly and very sensible.

      It's rare to work in a team that has absolutely no egos involved. It's refreshing, especially in our industry. As you can imagine, focusing on the right culture fit has high impact on the process since there is a lot of openness, involvement and transparency while working with the team.

      2 points
  • Mihai SerbanMihai Serban, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias, I know this has been discussed in the design community few times before but how important do you think it is to have a degree in the design industry? As I could read in your bio you have dropped out of school at 15; did you regret your decision at some point or did you feel any kind of social pressure as a consequence to your decision?

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Mihai

      That's a fantastic question! Let me get right into it:

      1. I don't think a design degree is needed in the design industry, there are many who don't have one who would agree with that. But that said, it doesn't make it easier to not have one, quite the opposite.

      2. When I dropped out, I tried to study but had trouble getting accepted at universities. I would have probably studied if I would have allowed to. At first, I had some feeling of regret. That's normal because literally everyone else tells you that you NEED to study, especially if you grow up in a small city where everyone just blindly follows each other. Social pressure, for sure.

      3. In general, I would recommend everyone to get a degree in design. I see it as follows:

      • Studying design puts you in a place with 30 other like minded people. All are as confused (or focused) than you. It's a fantastic social environment to learn & grow with others.

      • Being self-taught, it's just you alone in a room. You have to put yourself out there at the same time, there are no teachers, mentors or colleagues around you.

      • Studying introduces you to a great network of teachers & mentors from the beginning. That's what you pay for, it's a safety net.

      • Being self-taught is the opposite. While you have great freedom, you also have great pressure to network the shit out of your time.

      In general, the main difference between studying design and being self-taught is the social component that provides you with mentorship, emotional support and a little kick in the ass here and there.

      I think I would have liked it (:

      4 points
  • Mahad Qureshi, almost 4 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. Would love to get any advice on design organization. File naming techniques you use and how you manage different versions of designs.

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Mahad

      Oh wow, I might be the wrong to ask this question. If people would find out how I organize my files and naming techniques I would probably get banned from Designernews immediately.

      9 points
  • Ash AdamsonAsh Adamson, almost 4 years ago

    I'm also a self-taught designer and still much to learn. What's the one thing you'd advise a self-learner about improving as a designer?

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Hey Ben

      Yeah, I know right? We hopefully never stop learning. To keep this as short as I can, I actually wrote an article on this topic just a couple days ago.

      I titled it with "The Day You Became A Better Designer". Of course, this is seen from my perspective and is certainly a reflection of myself and my learning habits.

      This is probably the best way I can answer this question.

      Stay awesome Ben

      Tobias

      1 point
  • Alessia Weir, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Tobias, I've been following your work for a while now, really love what you've been doing. What would be one piece of advice that you would tell your past self about when you were starting out?

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Hi Alessia

      Thanks so much for your kind words! <3 That's a fantastic question, makes me think. There are probably a couple points, but lets stay true to your question and just name one:

      Nr.1 - Ignore everyone & Don't take things too seriously.

      Let me explain: When I started, I always thought that there must a be RIGHT way to do things in design. Only after many years I discovered that there are not only many ways to be right, but also that challenging the status quo is actually what good design is about.

      When I started out I was always too afraid to make mistakes, trying to minimize risk and read a lot into "How to do things right."

      Looking back, I would tell myself to be more relaxed. Design, especially what we now know as digital design is such a young field that literally no one has figured it out. It either means that we're all right, or we're all wrong.

      When I started I was very much focused on the design, for the sake of design. Today I'm more focused on what I can do with design as a tool.

      Great question, I hope my answer made any sense (: Tobias

      4 points
  • Gabriel GarridoGabriel Garrido, over 3 years ago

    Can you explain how you taught yourself design? Did you really skip art/design school? How do you feel about this? I'm asking because I'm 1 year into design school and I feel like I'd be better off studying myself and just doing a lot of practice and iteration.

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Gabriel

      Yes, I did skip everything but high school which I dropped out of with the age of 15. I hope you don't mind if I paste an answer from another question here, it's pretty much the same.

      I don't think a design degree is needed in the design industry, there are many who don't have one who would agree with that. But that said, it doesn't make it easier to not have one, quite the opposite.

      When I dropped out, I tried to study but had trouble getting accepted at universities. I would have probably studied if I would have allowed to. At first, I had some feeling of regret. That's normal because literally everyone else tells you that you NEED to study, especially if you grow up in a small city where everyone just blindly follows each other. Social pressure, for sure.

      In general, I would recommend everyone to get a degree in design. I see it as follows:

      Studying design puts you in a place with 30 other like minded people. All are as confused (or focused) than you. It's a fantastic social environment to learn & grow with others.

      Being self-taught, it's just you alone in a room. You have to put yourself out there at the same time, there are no teachers, mentors or colleagues around you.

      Studying introduces you to a great network of teachers & mentors from the beginning. That's what you pay for, it's a safety net.

      Being self-taught is the opposite. While you have great freedom, you also have great pressure to network the shit out of your time.

      In general, the main difference between studying design and being self-taught is the social component that provides you with mentorship, emotional support and a little kick in the ass here and there.

      It depends what kind of personality you are. There is no clear answer to this question, but it depends on you as a person. For some people, the format of a university is beneficial for them, for some it's destructive.

      So in general, I wouldn't recommend dropping out unless you are a 100% sure (or at least 99%) that you can bring the motivation be on your own.

      1 point
  • Ali DemirciAli Demirci, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias,

    I would like to know your morning routine? I actually know whats your research routine? I guess you spend time for design research, but at the same time you are enterpreneur. Do you have a routine for industrial research?

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hi Ali

      Great question, especially because I'm the worst morning person ever. I rarely do design research, only when I need to do it for a new project.

      Most of my time is spend doing: Meetings, Emails, New product thinking, testing, bookkeeping, shipping, handling feedback etc.

      Research is usually mostly involved once I have a new project on my plate where I have to get deep into the details. Other than that, I read a book every night for at least 1-2h which I would consider research (:

      1 point
  • Patrick SmithPatrick Smith, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    What are your thoughts regarding criticism of the latest wave of screen design? Do you think some of the arguments are valid (e.g. borderless buttons), and are there potential pitfalls with ‘flat’ design that must be navigated around?

    Note: I’m not trying to start an argument, personally I like minimal design. But I think you should always listen to criticism if there are a few voices saying the same sorts of things. So would appreciate your smarts on the subject!

    1 point
  • ポール ウェッブポール ウェッブ, almost 4 years ago

    Haha, whoah! You're doing big things Tobias! Question: are you hiring remote front-end people? I very much like my current full-time job, but I'd love to be a part of whatever shenanigans you're up to next.

    1 point
    • Tobias van Schneider, almost 4 years ago

      Hey Paul

      You're too kind! I am indeed always looking for front-end magicians, but usually depends on the project that is coming up. More of that will probably happen early next year. This year is is my time to take some time off and re-charge my batteries.

      Lets catch up via email! Keep on rocking Paul!

      2 points
  • Kat Bak, almost 4 years ago

    Anyone else waiting for something from Eli Schiff?

    :trollface:

    0 points
  • Wes O'HaireWes O'Haire, almost 4 years ago

    How did you/Spotify achieve balance between consistency and autonomy within the squad structure?

    We(Hudl) closely follow your structure. We are where you were 2 years ago(inconsistent interfaces). I'd also love to hear how you developed your product design guidelines/standards.

    0 points
  • JN B, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Hallo Tobias,

    Erstens, as a French guy I'm curious to know why did you choose a name "les Avignons" with your crew?

    Zweitens, after working for different kind of agencies. Where do you see yourself and which role?

    Letzte frage. As a great designer, do you see yourself only teaching?

    Danke, JN

    PS: my company is looking for a Lead designer / Product designer to join the team. If you are interested to work with us, coffee will be ready.

    0 points
  • Amit Das, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias,

    How does one prepare for being a designer at TESLA? To be more specific, contribute to product, interface designs for -- Car dashboards, Space X UIs and so on and so forth? Any help?

    You're undoubtedly one of the most prolific designers most of us look up to and hence I seek some guidance. :)

    Thanks

    0 points
  • Artem Moskovskikh, almost 4 years ago

    Hi, Tobias!

    I have a question for you :) It's so important thing, i think. When you work on a project: How do you understand a design is done and you stop improving it?

    0 points
  • Bob WassermannBob Wassermann, almost 4 years ago

    Perhaps a silly question, but how did you end up at Spotify?

    0 points
  • Aaron MoodyAaron Moody, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Tobias,

    What's been your most financially successful sideproject? Presuming its semplice, or Authentic Weather

    Always been a fan of your work, and how you present yourself, keep rocking with what ever the next step brings you

    -Aaron

    0 points
  • Shane CShane C, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Tobias,

    I love your writing. One of my favourites is How to Beard. In the section Maintaining a beard you say that you shouldn’t use shampoo, and you also say that you never use shampoo on your hair but only wash your hair with clean water once a day. Do you use any other product if your hair gets too greasy? Or do you use organic shampoo once a month?

    And yes, I’m being serious.

    Oh yeah, should designers learn to code?

    0 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Shane!

      I love beard questions, glad they are being asked.

      1. You are right, I usually do not use shampoo. If you rinse your beard or hair with water at least once or twice a day, your hair should never feel too greasy anyway. My experience also applies for someone who lives in a city with a "sitting in front of a computer" job.

      I do sometimes use shampoo (something organic like you said) but this might happen every 6 weeks or even less. Only if I feel like I need it. Otherwise, I wash my hair once or twice a day with clear water. That keeps them clean & smooth.

      1. No designers should not learn to code. Honestly, it's just about the word "should". You can, and you will be probably better off than if you don't. I respect those who do it, but there is no reason that you should code.

      Having a software engineering background, I do recommend every designer to at least get familiar with how things are built. Basic front-end & backend knowledge is a big plus as a designer. It makes you a better designer because you understand how engineers work, how you can scope projects and you might be even able to hack something together real quick.

      But if we say that designers should code, we should also say that they should know about business, financials, marketing, advertising, customer support, growth strategies, etc.

      1 point
  • Kris KimKris Kim, over 3 years ago

    Great to meet you Tobias! You've been inspiring so many designers out there including myself and I really appreciate it. One question for you is, if you are to interview a designer, what's your top one question that you'd ask? Or two? Or three.. Thanks sir!

    0 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Kris

      Nice to meet you and thanks so much for your kind words (: Here are some I can think of right now:

      1. Why do you consider yourself a designer?

      2. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

      3. What was it?

      Please Kris, do not ask this questions back to me ;)

      1 point
  • Moaaz SidatMoaaz Sidat, over 3 years ago

    Hey Tobias! I notice how you've successfully managed to monetize each of the projects you've mentioned above. What strategies were important when building each of these products that allowed you to do so? Was monetization the goal from the start, or does that come later?

    Love the beard and absolutely love your work! Thanks!

    0 points
  • Edgar VargasEdgar Vargas, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Tobias,

    I, much like yourself have been through some career transitions. IMO you're work is very nice to look at for several reasons but because of these transitions, I've come appreciate items that work above else. Have you written anything around usability metrics or pain-points and how you solve those issues?

    • Gracias
    0 points
  • Nico MizonoNico Mizono, over 3 years ago

    Hey Tobias!

    Two questions:

    1. What do you look for when hiring a designer?

    2. How did you teach yourself hard design skills? What was your process (Lynda.com --> side project --> other resources --> finish side project --> next side project, etc.) and what were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?

    Thanks a lot for doing this AMA and best of luck with your new ventures!

    -Nico

    0 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Nico! Nice to meet you!

      1. Mostly character first. No one wants to work with an arrogant asshole, even if he/she is crazy talented. After character fit, I look for someone who can think for herself, someone who can own projects and has a strong opinion on their work.

      In general, character is the most important trait I look for. I believe that everything else can be taught, but character is something you can't really correct anymore at a certain age. (maybe you can, but it will take years)

      1. When I learned most of the basic hard skills there was no Youtube. I'm not old, but that only shows how young this industry really is.

      This is how I learned most of the things in my early years:

      a. Looking for a client b. Client asks for a website, but I never made a website c. I don't tell the client, I just promise that I can do a website d. Oh shit, now I have to do a website e. Googling and searching on forums to find out how to do everything Done: I made a website. (you can question if it was good)

      Then repeat the whole process and get better along the way.

      Of course now everything is much easier, you can find tutorials of everything on YouTube, I wish I had that when I got started, but then again, I learn something new everyday. But the basic hard skills I learned by just forcing myself to finish something.

      /Tobias

      0 points
      • Nico MizonoNico Mizono, over 3 years ago

        Awesome Tobias thanks! You're a huge source of inspiration for all of us :) Keep kicking ass man!

        0 points
  • Lanya OlmstedLanya Olmsted, over 3 years ago

    Hi Tobias! Thanks for doing this AMA. I've been following your work and emails, and really love what you're doing. Please keep sharing your learnings and reflections! I also first started learning design by taking on clients and learning by doing.

    My question: as a former software engineer, what are some tips that you have for designers working with developers?

    BTW -- come back to Boston soon!!

    0 points
  • Nicholas DiChiara, over 3 years ago

    Hey Tobias, Thanks so much for doing this AMA, I really appreciate it as do others I'm sure.

    To give you context, I’m a design student doing my Senior thesis on the digital Music Industry (like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Apple Music. etc.) so I don't mean to pry. I know these services have shrunk the number of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently. Do you think there is a better way services (like Spotify) could better serve the artist? Or do you think there is a better way for artist to embrace these new services?

    PS — Great job on Semplice, can't wait to go live with my site.

    0 points
    • Pankaj VermaPankaj Verma, over 3 years ago

      Love from all of us at http://www.ganpatizone.biz

      0 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Nicholas, nice to meet you!

      Thats a great question and I'm not even sure if I'm qualified enough to answer it. But in general, you are right.

      I wouldn't say it's a blow, it's just a shift and some artists are part of the shift, and some protest against it. We all know that this is not a question about if streaming services are the future or not. I mean we all see that it is the future.

      The shift hasn't been introduced by any of the current streaming services, but mostly because the fact that we now have the magical Internet as an enabler. A lot of industries are affected as the access model to content is changing.

      The time during these shifts is often the most painful, because most industries (such as the music industry) run on outdated models that have been protected for many years.

      The question you're really asking is: Can artists do better by embracing the Internet? Yes they can, and we see many great examples who already do it very well.

      0 points
  • Darren MotenDarren Moten, over 3 years ago

    Tobias,

    I know you are a bit of a hobbiest when it comes to photography and a lot of that photography makes it into your own work, but for projects like Aquatilis Expedition how did you come to source that photography?

    0 points
    • Tobias van Schneider, over 3 years ago

      Hi Darren

      Nice to meet you! Ha yes, I am! I love taking pictures on the side and implementing them into my work. For Aquatilis, of course the photography wasn't made by me. I wouldn't even be able to dive that deep first of all.

      All of the pictures are done by Alexander Semenov, I worked very closely with him and he was actually the partner/client on this project. So it went hand it hand, one of the best projects I worked on in a while. Lots of fun.

      0 points
  • James Dempsey, over 3 years ago

    Hey Tobias,

    Been following you for a while and I am a huge fan of your work.

    Three questions.

    1) I know someone mentioned morning routines already but what does the first hour of your day look like if you are in complete control? (not traveling, no early meetings, etc)

    2) What books have you gifted the most often?

    3) If you could put a billboard with anything you wanted to say anywhere in the world, where would you choose to put it and what would you have it say?

    Thanks! I look forward to the things you will create in the future.

    0 points
  • Erick AriasErick Arias, over 3 years ago

    Hi Tobias,

    Nice to read about you this morning on my commute. I have a question about how you find the right people. Do you go out and recruit others to help you with an idea? Or do your ideas just happen organically when you are around the right group of people?

    0 points