About Me, Professionally:
My name is Brett Archibald and I am designer.
Let me elaborate further…
I have a wealth of experience in interactive design across various platforms, online and mobile, in both the professional and entertainment industries, working on projects from conception through to completion.
The fields of design in which I specialise are: User Interface, User Experience, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Usability, Mobile Devices, Gaming, Animation & Illustration.
I do everything on the graphic design spectrum, from initial brainstorming all the way up to final artwork, and everything in-between – taking in concepting, sketching, wireframing, rough layouts, accurate mockups, interactive prototypes and final asset-generation along the way.
For the past several years (shortly after the Apple App Store launched), I’ve worked almost exclusively on mobile apps and games. This is definitely where I am happiest, but I can turn my hand to any digital creative work.
I have a very strong focus on UX and usability in everything I do. Whilst I have worked across a broad range of varying platforms and seemingly differing industries, the same core UI skills and underlying design principles that I apply to all my work are adaptable and can be applied confidently to any project I am presented with.
I have a keen eye for detail, and I am obsessive-compulsive when it comes to pixel-perfect precision (sometimes a zoom-level of 3200% just doesn't seem enough!).
I will spend an hour tweaking a single pixel, because it matters. You might not see the difference, but you will feel it, and it will have an effect on your experience and enjoyment of the product.
Although I am a front-end designer, rather than a back-end developer, I have an in-depth understanding of the development side of things and a great deal of experience liaising very closely with developers so as to make the lives of the coders who piece together my designs that much easier.
I know Photoshop and Illustrator like the back of my hand.
I am proficient in Flash. My Flash is mostly animation and prototype-building, and although not a dedicated ActionScripter (I still like to do timeline-based animation), I can make what I need to make happen with a bit of gotoAndPlay(); where needs be.
I like to dabble in HTML and CSS, because it’s often valuable to be able to generate immediate results from your own designs, but I prefer working with a developer when it comes to getting serious code written.
In summary, I have an immense passion for the work I do, and I love designing enjoyable, engaging and intuitive experiences that provide real value to the user.
I am a husband and a father. I have two daughters.
I might be approaching 40, but I never really grew up. I like comics and cartoons and I feel weird wearing a tie.
Hobbies include photography, drawing, music, and trying to beat my previous highest score on all the “just one more go” games I have on my iPhone.
I don’t like ambiguity. To clarify things and to avoid confusion, I will use ten words where other people would use two.
The name “Not How It Looks” is based on a Steve Jobs quote:
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
This is the underlying principle which forms the basis of all my design work and it is why I chose the name (howitworks.com was already taken).
TL;DR – My Skills, Summarised:
I have been involved in design in one form or another for the past 20 years.
I got my first job straight after completing my A-levels and leaving school, armed only with a portfolio of drawings and paintings that I had done in my spare time as a hobby.
I started out in advertising. My first foray into professional design involved corporate identities, brochures, leaflets, packaging & labels, calendars, and even a billboard or two.
My tools of the trade at the time were not computers and software. I grew up in Zimbabwe, and we arrived slightly late to the computer-aided design game, so my skills were honed using Rotring pens, Copic markers, airbrushing, Frisket film, masking fluid, masking tape and Letraset typeface sheets. There was no Cmd-Z to undo, only erasers or Tipp-Ex.
When the company I worked for got their first Apple Macs (a couple of Performas / LCs), I was hooked. I took to a mouse like a duck takes to water. The combination of creativity and the level of precision that was opened up to me through Photoshop and Aldus Freehand was life-changing – although I still keep my pencil and sketchbook close by.
Alongside its advertising department, this company also did shop-interior and outdoor exhibition showstand-design, so I also have a few years’ experience choosing what type of wood goes best in a counter display-unit, and what kind of planting looks best alongside your display of shiny new Mazda 323s.
Following a brief stint at another advertising agency I made my way to the UK, to see what design was like in this part of the world. Not all that different, as it turns out – just a lot more competitive!
I spent a few months mailing my CV to potential employers without much luck. A university-obtained art-degree didn’t count for much in Zimbabwe, but in the UK the lack of this line written on my CV meant job-interviews didn’t materialise.
Eventually one employer offered to take a look at my portfolio of previous work, and I was offered a job there and then. That was in 1997.
My first job in the UK was as a print-designer, as I had been before. I was producing brochures, annual reports, direct-mailers and the like. But as the internet started to take off and our clients wanted websites, I elected to expand the remit of my job description and become a “new media” designer. My boss bought a copy of Macromedia Flash (version 2) and GoLive CyberStudio, and I taught myself how to use them, producing websites with the then seemingly-compulsary, OTT, all-singing, all-dancing Flash intro (only some time later did people consider adding a “Skip Intro” button).
Once I had tasted website design, there was no going back to the world of print separations. This design felt more personal, interactive and immediate.
After several years with this agency, in 2001 I bought an iMac and took my first steps into the world of self-employment.
I initially started freelancing at other agencies, when they were down a designer and needed someone to step in for a few days.
But these temporary short-lived artworker roles were often not very challenging. I would spend my days implementing text amends into a 3-frame GIF banner, and then waiting several hours for approval on the changes I had made to trickle down the chain of command. This felt like several very large steps backwards from where I had been before.
So the next step was to alter my freelancer status into that of self-employment. I was now working from home, working on my own projects, liaising with the clients directly. I was creating, I was designing, I was directing. I had found my niche.
But all that’s history. Now I want to talk about the future…