Geunbae “GB” Lee
How did you get into design?
A couple years back, I graduated with a degree in Psychology. While I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and most importantly, what I felt most passionate about, I began to try a variety of things. Several months after graduation, one of the professor at my college recommended me to take a look at the HCI programs. At the time, I didn't know anything about UX or HCI and I wasn't even close to having any background knowledge or skills related to design.
I decided to go back home, fire up my laptop and started to search for those things which ultimately sparked up the interest in me to dive even further. I instinctively knew that it was something I really wanted to learn more about and getting into the Master's in HCI program was a perfect stepping-stone. Passion has fueled me all the way here but without any action to actually learn and create things, I wouldn't be here right now.
Even now, there are so many things to learn and there are a lot of talented designers out there that obviously know way more than me and are capable of coming up with better designs or solutions. That's why I always stay up late, utilize my time well and to learn from others. Also, I always try to help those who are also interested in becoming a designer.
What is design to you? What do you think design is about?
For me, design is solving problems that people face in real-life. Design is also inspirational, motivational and intentional. And it could come in many forms like art, digital products, sculptures, buildings and more. Although many people may assume that design is all about the final product and the success of it can only be measured by how people react to it, it's much more than that. There are a lot of thoughts, plans and back-and-forth communications that have been put through coming up with the final outcome. Even though the final outcome may not satisfy everyone or doesn't solve the problem in the most effective way, there are still opportunities to improve and learn form the past mistakes. After all, design is an iterative process and collaborative activity.
There are so many problems in the world that can be solved from small things to big things. I believe "life" is also something that needs to be designed and carefully planned. Although, it's hard to do everything as planned but overcoming mistakes or unfortunate situations is also a part of it.
How do you stay inspired or motivated to learn more about design?
Looking at the works of other people are always inspiring. Every day, I see something that I can't possibly make with my limited skills and knowledge. At first, it was a total let down. However, after getting a taste of that great feeling whenever I came up with my own unique solution to a problem, it became addictive. Still, that happens to me and I don't see it ever going away.
Also, I try to stay updated on the design field and the tech field in general. I believe that knowing what's going on in the industry is very important regardless of what your profession is. So, I often read articles and listen to podcasts. Sometimes, it's better to hear what's out there than being in a room by yourself making things.
What are some of the tools that you use for design?
For designing UI, I use Sketch most of the time. For prototyping, I use Framer, Invision, Origami and Principle - depends on what I want to achieve. When I was first getting myself into design and still, I've always wanted to try several different tools that people use for different purposes. This was to prepare myself for whatever job I would end up getting and the tools I'd be using to design.
Therefore, I recently tried learning several other prototyping tools such as Adobe XD and Protopie. If I have time in the near future, I'd love to learn some 3D tools like Maya and Rhino. Unity would also be interesting to learn further.
Are you learning anything new that are related to design?
I've briefly mentioned the tools that I would like to learn above. In addition to the tools, I really would like to learn how to efficiently communicate with other team members in the team. Being proficient in the tools and crafting artistic and cool designs are nice, but I believe that working well within the team is also very important skill for a designer to have.
To be honest, I feel like there are a lot of opportunities for me to grow on that part and I know I'll never be perfectly good at it. But there will always be situations where I would need to talk to others (in and outside of my team) to convince, explain and argue my ideas to building a great product. In the next few years, I look forward to improving my presentation skills and to keep on reminding myself that having a good relationship with other people is very important.
Where do you see yourself in about… 5 years?
It's been less than a couple years since I got to familiarize myself in design which means, I'm going to start out as a newbie designer when I graduate. What's waiting for me out there seems very exciting and unpredictable. It's going to be completely new and the amount of knowledge that I'll absorb in the next years will gradually lead me to my next steps. Rather than transitioning to any different roles, I would love to gain more experience designing.
Anything you would tell or give advice to students in design like you?
Looking for inspirations, learning the tools, working on cool projects and finding mentors are all advices that many people will give you. And those are the things that you should be doing on a daily basis. However, you should also try to help other people by sharing information, giving honest feedback and competing fairly.
I still remember, when I first reached out to people that obviously knew more than me, 9 out of 10 times, I would never hear back from them. That's why I always try to share my experiences, ideas and thoughts to other people whenever I have the chance. To be honest, I know my suggestions would not be 100 percent correct but at least it's better than not sharing anything or secretly hide it from others. So, when people come up to you with questions, try to answer them unless you're super busy. For people who ask, your responses will be super helpful.