Andrew Clemente, Devlounge.net Founder Interview
Andrew Clemente, Creator of Devlounge.net
Andrew Clemente is an award-winning site designer / developer and creator of Devlounge.net, a well-known design and developer resource. Devlounge provides original content covering web design standard and usability. Most people that have been in design and development for 7 years are not in high school, but Andrew is. He is 17 years old. We had to talk with Andrew to find out how he founded a successful design resource site with a larger international following before he moved away from home.
Q: Andrew, I recently heard that one of your “first-ever” design projects was when you created a site close to 7 years ago for your Little League team in 2000. Can you tell us a bit about the project? (How long did it take? Is the site still up? Was this when you first started thinking about design as a “career”)?
Andrew: The site (if you can call it that) was nothing amazing. I had created a Homestead account (free at the time) and laid out a site using a WYSIWYG editor and various images from around the web. At the time I was so young and I didn’t even think what I had just figured out would be worth something some day. I was really just a kid having fun.
The site is no longer up, as Homestead went the paid road and became a hosting / blogging site. Even if it was, there wouldn’t have been much there but a blue background, pictures of baseball, the team, and our record – which did happen to be pretty good that year – must have been the site J.
Q: Who are some of your artistic influences? What is it about their work that inspires you?
Andrew: Artistic influences? This is a tough one. I don’t generally look to artists per se for influence, but the design community as a whole. I browse many design galleries from time to design to pick up color combinations, layout structures, text and link styling, and other elements that I may want to include in my own designs. Because of this my influences are always changing, depending on what I find and like at the time that I take a mental note of.
Q: Is there one particular area (illustration, graphic design, website design, typography) of your work that you enjoy the most and why?
Andrew: I guess I’d have to pick website design, because it’s the work I’m involved with the most. If I had a tablet I’d do a lot more illustration, because I find myself sketching all the time, but I find it too hard to try to do that in Photoshop or Illustrator with nothing more than a mouse. At some point if I ever get a tablet, it will probably be a fairly equal balance between illustration and web design.
Q: What do you feel are the most important skills a designer needs to have in order to be successful in today’s marketplace?
Andrew: Plain and simple it’s originality. If you can’t be original, you won’t be able to make it in design. Regardless of the “trends” on the internet, it’s up to each and every one of us, as designers, to push our creativity, to set up our own trends. Many times people think, “Hey, this is what’s hot now, so if I mimic it, I’ll be successful.” For the most part this is true, but when the tides change and something else becomes the new “standard” of good design, you’ll find yourself out of work if you cannot innovate your designs.
Aside from design itself, it’s also good to have a good amount of knowledge on XHTML and CSS, because if you’re still using tables, you’ll be out of luck mostly anywhere (unless you want to work for Myspace).
Q: In your opinion, how has the graphic design industry changed since you first started?
Andrew: Back when I really first designed sites for clients, nothing of today’s “standards” would have ever passed as a “good design”. When I first got going, the theme around the net was big, blocky designs that used bevels, drop shadows, and content boxes that would have 45 degree cutouts on the corners in order to look like “futuristic”. When the net moved on to the “web 2.0” that we seem to stand at today, it gave me a much better chance to actually get going in the freelance world. My designs had always been simple, but up until a few years ago “simple” wouldn’t have been accepted. These days it’s what everyone wants.
Q: Can you offer any words of advice to aspiring designers?
Andrew: Never give up, and have plenty of patience. If you had asked me when I was 10 if I could ever see myself making money doing what I was doing, I probably would have looked at you and had no idea what the **** you were talking about. I continued to just fool around with things until I got better and got older, and eventually my patience paid off (literally). If you’re just getting started, there are many, many resources out there to help you – from books to design galleries and resources such as Devlounge. You can make it. It doesn’t take a total dedication of your time either. There’s a belief that you have to spend half the day or more in front of a computer in order to be a designer / developer / whatever, but you really don’t. I have a life and spend plenty of time doing things away from the computer, so don’t think you need to lock yourself in a room or office in order to be successful.
This post was authored by NoD staff. Notes on Design is a design industry blog sponsored by Sessions College for Professional Design.