The Accidental Designer - Part I

Mikey 3 comments
  • Design
The Accidental Designer - Part I

My story is different to most designers. I fell into the web development industry by complete accident; some might say it was fate, but I wouldn't.

It was early 1998, around the middle of the .com boom era, but not that I knew what that meant at the time. I had recently been made redundant from my job of 7 years as a technician at Timezone - yeah the same video game place you spent all your hard earned dollars before the Playstation came along and changed everything. If you were ever in a Timezone between 91 and 98 you probably saw me and we may have even interacted. Today I still get the occasional person stop me in the street with "Hey weren't you that Timezone guy?"

After Timezone I took the first job opportunity that came along, which happened to be in the computer section of a now defunct chain of computer department stores. My job required me to explain to customers why Windows 98 was so much better than 95, and why $500 was a bargain for a card if they wanted to achieve more than 30 frames per second in Quake 2. It was a mind numbing job. Only a few weeks in and I took a - 'cough cough' - sick day.

Surfing the web that morning on 33.6k I noticed an advert for a competition on my ISP's homepage. Design the winning logo for their new games web page and receive 3 months free internet access (which was $90 in those days). Paying 30 clams per month for dial-up was one of my pet peeves so I thought I should have a crack at it, even for fun. It was the last of a 7 day competition.

"The following day the top 3 finalist's logos were posted online and I was surprised to see my UGO clone among them."

At the time I fancied myself as a bit of a semi-skilled Photoshop user, so the next 30 minutes were spent preparing and submitting my entry, which I later learned looked similar to the UGO logo (at the time). The following day the top 3 finalist's logos were posted online and I was surprised to see my UGO clone among them.

Several days later I get a phone call asking me if I would like to come in and talk about the logo I submitted. I agreed as it was on my way to work.

I thought I must have won the competition although I was a little confused. If I had won, surely they would just tell me on the phone? But then if I had won perhaps I needed to sign over the logo rights to them as an acknowledgement of winning so I could receive my prize. Or something stupid like that.

I arrived later that afternoon where I was met by the owner, a nice enthusiastic guy who showed me around the office and eventually introduced me to a short round bald guy who's name I forgot within two seconds and was too embarrassed to ask for it again. Bald guy shared office space with the ISP. We exchanged pleasantries while he simultaneously shuffled me into a cubicle where my logo was displayed on a monitor. The whole situation felt awkward, so I kept my wits about me.

The conversation that was to follow would change my life.

(Continue on to Part II)

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Sunday 4th February 2007 | 06:17 PM

I really like the colors you have going on here. The contrast is great, makes for easier reading. I bet if you increased your letter-spacing just a little, you would have one of the easiest-to-read blogs on the planet. Good work. And once again, my compliments on the colors and execution! ~ Bittbox

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Monday 5th February 2007 | 08:34 AM

Thanks BittBox! Letter spacing you say? Hmmm....

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Monday 19th February 2007 | 10:32 PM

what an interesting read. its amazing how the insignificant events can change our lives dramatically.

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