HOW Interactive Expert’s Corner: David Sherwin

David Sherwin is Principle Designer at frog and brings a rich design history grounded in strong research and business strategy.

An integral part of a world-class firm, David has a depth and breadth of knowledge in everything from interactive design and creative direction to teaching and speaking. He’s especially interested in the intersection and integration of design and business, and he regularly contributes to this ongoing topic of conversation in the design community.

UnknownIn anticipation for this year’s HOW Interactive & Web Design Conference taking place this November in Chicago, we caught up with David to find out how he stays inspired in his everyday work world.

So David, your fellow designers are eager for advice: What would you tell those aspiring for a similar career path? There’s a motto at work from a while back that sums this up: “Change is fun.” As a former print designer, really understanding this took some effort, but it’s really been rewarding to become comfortable with change. Don’t be afraid to tinker and experiment with different types of projects. Don’t get attached to any particular media, even if you’re really good at doing it.

I think there’s a drive in today’s culture for specialization and showing deep mastery of a particular set of skills, but designers often do best in the interactive and web space by embracing changing technologies and learning to adapt based on what new types of projects are thrown at them.

Because you’ve learned to appreciate change, is there a side or pet project that you find helps you mix-it-up and keep it fresh? Maybe a side business, passion project, or a charity to which you donate time or services?
I’ve been involved this past year in launching the free Collective Action Toolkit for frog. This has tapped into one of my passions: making the power of design more accessible and available for anyone in the world. The AIGA has made available a case study about how it was made by my team.

I just finished a pilot of the toolkit with the Design for Sustainability program at SCAD, where they used the toolkit with three Savannah-area high schools, and it was great to see it working in action.

Wow, you’re extremely devoted! If you weren’t a designer, what do you think you would you be? Definitely a full-time writer. But writing fuels my design, just as much as design fuels my professional writing.

How about when you get stuck in a creative rut, how do you break free? I try to get free of the computer, even if it’s a digital project, and use the techniques in my book Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills like timeboxing and different brainstorming methods. If that doesn’t work, I’ll pull out my sketchbook and just start sketching without any goal in mind, or go for a quick walk around the block.

Sounds like a winning strategy to me. And, I must say that we definitely consider it a “win” that you’ll be with us in Chicago this November!

What are you waiting for? Dig deeper with David at the 2013 HOW Interactive Design Conference November 5-7, in Chicago! 

Come to HOW Interactive Design in Chicago!

Want to get a head start? Check out David’s books: Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers and Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills (both from HOW Books).