The Accidental Designer - Part IMikey 3 comments
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.