This is a special one for designers! Today, we are going to meet one of our favorite admins and creative director: Trevor Gerring. Trevor has been with us for 2 years. He has helped and guided us through many projects. Some of you, may have met him at TCO17 Indonesia regionals or at one of the main TCO events. In case you don’t remember him, he shared a photo with us 😀
I know you joined Topcoder in 2015. Tell me a little more about your background and how did your Topcoder story begin.
I worked in advertising for about 7 years before joining Topcoder. During those 7 years, I primarily worked at small to mid-level digital agencies, working on website, apps, and interactive experiences. I was getting burnt out in the advertising world and looking for a change. Luckily, I came to Topcoder through Blake Walles, who I’m sure most of you know.
What do you like the most about working with Topcoder designers?
I get pleasantly surprised by the ideas and concepts, the designers are producing. Just when I think we’ve given the designers something too weird or a really hard problem to solve, they come back with something amazing.
What’s the most difficult/challenging thing you do as Topcoder’s Creative Director?
“Teaching” clients to “think like designers”. I think this is the most difficult part of the job for any Creative Director or designer; to understand what the client wants and expects. And then, get them to think about their needs in a way that can actually be designed.
How do you push yourself to become better?
I think just reflecting on what I’ve done, and figuring out ways to improve. I’m a pretty process oriented person, so If I can streamline a process, it usually allows everyone, myself included, to become better at what they do.
As a designer yourself, do you get inspired from the work you see from the community designers?
Everyday. That’s what I love about this job.
What advice would you give to a new Topcoder designer to get on top, considering the competition is very tough these days?
Yes, the competition is very tough, but I think that’s a good thing. You should always be striving to be better than the guy in front of you. Ask yourself, why are they so good? Why did they win this challenge? The other big advice is to always be open to learning. Right now, it is a really exciting time for design. There are so many resources, new tools, process, and ways of thinking about design. Try to absorb and try out as many of those things as possible. I’m doing this myself on a daily basis 🙂
What’s the thing you’re most passionate about in your job? What is it that you find most rewarding in your job role?
Pushing designers to think differently and make them go beyond what they are comfortable with. Looking for new ways to explore design within our community. The Design Bench, which is still relatively new, is a great example of this.
What’s the most important skill a designer should develop?
How to design for clients and solving problems. It’s easy to design something that “looks cool”, but it’s something totally different than designing something that solves a problem. This is something that comes with experience and feedback.
How do you see designers contributing in the blockchain space?
That is a really interesting question that I’ve actually been asking myself recently. Blockchain is basically just a database, so how do you design for that? I see it as more of designing “experiences” than what you would think of as an app. There will definitely be opportunities to design apps around a blockchain backend process, but it will be much more important to remove or abstract a lot of the backend complexities and present a great experience to the user.
What should Topcoder designers focus on, in 2018? (design patterns, trends, tools etc.)
I would focus on how you think about or approach design. Design is becoming much more about the user experience than designing a slick UI. Anyone can download a UI kit or use Material Design to design something that “looks” cool. But, what our clients are really wanting are great experiences that solve problems. Research and see what others are doing. There is endless amounts of information and knowledge out there, never stop learning.
What are your hobbies besides work?
I like to snowboard and hike (I just moved to Colorado, so looking forward to doing more of that). Woodworking, photography. I’m also a 5-time international beatboxing champion… just kidding!