In our latest Edition of Interviews, we caught up with the one time Lead Designer at Cregital, Precious Madubuike. A world-class designer and coder; he talks to us about his current projects, life as a designer and also shares some of his design secrets.
Find yourself a comfortable position as this promises to be an interesting read.
Who Is Precious Madubuike?
I’m a Designer who’s passionate about creating immersive user experiences for digital products and developing striking brand identities that tell brand stories and ultimately create an impression on customers. I love technology, and I’m an advocate of aligning good design with technology because technology without good design is crap.
I like to call myself a perfectionist who’s worried about just 1-pixel shift no one would notice.
I grew up in Kaduna, and then school took me to my hometown Owerri, Imo state, where I studied Accountancy at Federal Polytechnic Nekede.
I served 2 years as the Design Lead at Cregital.
From what we understand, you recently left Cregital, Why? And what do you intend to do next?
(Chuckles). Ever been in that situation where you get bored of doing the same thing all the time? Well, I was yearning for bigger challenges, new and exciting grounds to conquer which were not forthcoming. So I guess it was just the right time. The company I think understands that and hence, allowed me to go. There probably might be an opening, so if you are a Designer and reading this, you should apply. It’s a great place to work.
On what I intend to do next. Firstly, I’m working on some really exciting personal projects and a new website. I like to take one thing at a time. Although I have some couple of attractive offers from some companies and agencies, but I don’t want to rush. I’m not motivated by money. After my website which I’m personally coding from scratch and my projects, all of which takes time and effort, I can now decide. (Winks).
What made you choose a career in creative design?
Actually, I started with programming. Since being a kid, I’ve always had the passion for technology and buttons. About 14 years ago, my closest cousin bought a computer. Prior to that, we always talked about Technology. Our favorite TV stations were Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
Having a computer around, we decided to learn how to program. While my cousin was more concerned about how things worked technically, I was more concerned about how they looked. Soon, I discovered Photoshop, and that was it! The passion for design erupted, and I have never looked back since then. Sometimes, I feel I wasted 5 years studying Accountancy, a course I studied just because of societal norms and me being naive as at that time.
Design is something that I can’t do without. I eat and breath it. I so love it that sometimes I just wish everyone would become a Designer. It’s an exciting and great profession really.
Who are the established designers that your look up to either as a mentor or role models?
I look at world class brands and scrutinize how they do things. You know brands like Apple, Airbnb, Spotify, Google, Invision and the rest have hundreds of Designers. So I look at the brands and their products. Every Designer at Apple, Spotify, Airbnb, Google, Invision etc are my role models. Although I have a few of them I have been able to create a relationship with through email and social media.
How long, in your opinion, does it take to train as a designer until one can be called a professional?
I’ve been in this profession for over 10 years and I still don’t know much really. So there isn’t a fixed time. I think one should always strive to become better, learn all the time. Design is the tray on which technology is served, and like you know, technology is on an exponential rise.
We understand that you are passionate about user-experience. However, there is currently a shortage of seasoned User Experience Designers, how do you think we can get more people trained in that aspect?
This one bothers me really. 90% of Designer within this sphere of the world really do not understand Design, let alone user experience design. It worries me. I want to see this industry grow in this part of the world. Training Designers is in the hands of Designers, Brands, and Agencies.
It’s unfortunate how most brands want established Designers. No one wants to pick a prodigy and bring something out of him or her. Brands, agencies, and Designers should know that Designers need the experience to become better.
Hire a potential Designer and give him/her room to improve.
Provide unlimited Internet for them. Internet is key trust me. Also encourage teamwork. Most companies have only one Designer and they want to kill him/her with work. Such Designer would find it hard to grow. Established Designers also needs to mentor a few upcoming ones within their reach.
I’m currently working on my new website and some really great projects I intend to put up. After that, I intend to start a Design blog where I would be sharing my experiences so as to educate upcoming Designers. It’s a burning desire.
As a front-end designer and developer, what are your everyday tools and apps, which you cannot do without for work?
Chrome is my number one app! Without it…..I don’t know…. I have 25 extensions on my Chrome. I use Illustrator a lot for logos, icons, and illustrations. Photoshop just for images, Indesign for print and publication designs. Sometimes, I use Premier pro if I have a video to work on. Yes, I edit videos. Sketch is my baby. I’ve tried Adobe’s XD and it’s promising.
I use Sublime text to code. Principle and Invision for prototyping. Keynote, Google Docs, Google Keep, Trello, Lightroom, Medium, Deezer and my headphones are some of the tools and apps I can’t do without. Learning to code recently, Github is one tool I see myself using.
For aspiring designers; what are the things you’ve realized now that you are a more experienced designer that you wished you knew when you were just starting?
That design is not just pixels, it’s not just what you see or how it looks – but how it works. I got to understand this by reading more about design problems and solutions, and not just jumping all over Behance and Dribbble.
Also getting to start using Illustrator and having a Macbook helped me. Some Designers would always argue about how Windows is better than Mac because of it’s flexibility with generic softwares.
But trust me, Mac is the best thing a Designer can have.
Sketch, the standard app for designing interfaces and experiences is only available on Mac. You see? It’s really expensive now owing to the high exchange rate, but I always advise every Designer who wants to be good to invest in it. A Retina Macbook pro. You ain’t going to regret it baby.
Why I mentioned Illustrator is that most Designers use just Photoshop for all their designs. Some use Corel Draw. A lot fear to use Illustrator just like I did. But once I started using it, boom! It’s a great tool. I always advise Corel draw faithfuls to quit using it and switch to Illustrator. I barely open Photoshop these days unless I want to edit or crop an image. Trust me, AI is an awesome tool.
What do you constantly do to stay motivated and inspired when working a project?
I look out for design problems in my everyday life and activities and how to solve them. I look at what the best people in the world are doing. I read, I observe, I research, I ask questions via email, Quora, Twitter and comment on platforms like Medium.
I’m also inspired by what I see around me. For example, colors. I recently saw a bus painted in pink and purple and the way both colors just synched made sense to me. I brought out my phone and took a Photograph of the bus. I used the colors for one of the designs I did for a client. Often times, I’ve stopped people on the streets just to take a photograph of a drawing or an art on their shirt.
Lots of mediocre in the design Industry, what can a Nigerian designer or developer do to become world-class and be better paid?
It’s simple! Look at what the best in the world are doing and try to do the same. Read, learn new things. Reading and doing are both things that have helped me really. Most Designers look at screenshots or images of designs on Dribbble and Behance. Design is not just how it looks, it’s how it works.
Most “Designers” do not know that there’s a difference between Art and Design. Art is about making questions, design is about creating solutions. In Art, you can make anything that doesn’t make sense, in Design you have to make sense.
So, read more. Know why a color was chosen, why an approach was followed, or why a particular tool(s) or framework was used.
In your view, how important is Iconography to a designer and do you think they must be localized (Nigerian-ized) for them to make sense?
Iconography is branding. A unicorn dies anytime you use a generic icon from the internet (laughs).Most people can’t afford photography, hence Icons can replace that. Icons can tell the story of a brand. I love the way Zendesk which rebranded recently used abstract icons to represent various aspects of their brand. I don’t think they need to be localized. Rather, they should be made a core element of a brand’s identity.
Should logos be localized? Everyone in the world uses Facebook and I don’t think Facebook in the U.S. is quite different from the one we use here. Designers should try as much as possible to design unique icons that tell a brand’s story and connect to people.
Where do you see Precious Madubuike three years from now?
Hmmmm….I see myself solving problems for people all over the world. Making life easier for people through crafted and thoughtful designs. I’m so passionate about design and coding that I can’t see myself doing any other thing else. Even when I’m 80, I still want to be designing.
What are your social media handles?
LinkedIn: Precious Madubuike
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Editor: Oluyemi Imole