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Q&A with Brian Graves

Kanas City-based designer & developer | UI Team Lead

I am a Kanas City-based designer & developer who is passionate about design, UX, collaborative workflows, and craft beer. In addition to my 9-5 as UI Team Lead at DEG, where I do work for a range of major brands, I am the creator of Responsive Email Patterns, Responsive Email Resources, and a core developer on Yeo-Lab & MiddleMail. When i’m not enjoying a beer or doing design work, I can be found speaking at conferences or writing for Smashing Magazine.

What design tools do you use?

  • I work on a 15-inch Macbook Pro connected to dual monitors.
  • As far as software, I’m usually using some combination of the following:
  • Sublime Text - Code editor of choice. The interface is great and the extensions are unbeatable.
  • Pattern Lab - For creating atomic design systems on web projects.
  • MiddleMail - Great set up of modern tools for creating modular email design systems.
  • Sass -  I do a lot of design work in the browser. Sass is a great addition to that type of workflow.
  • Photoshop - When going old school and knocking out initial concepts.
  • Illustrator - SVG and Icon creation.
  • Git and Github - For version control.
  • Evernote - Note taking and just generally keeping track of life.
  • Pocket - I use Pocket for collecting articles from across the web. Awesome for organizing inspirational and educational stuff.
  • Dropbox - File storage and sharing.
  • Spotify - Have to keep the music flowing while i’m working.

What is your ideal work environment?

My ideal work environment is one that is highly flexible. Sometimes you need a highly collaborative setup, while at other times you need to be off by yourself to concentrate. I love the Google Ventures style war room setups that can easily accommodate collaboration and yet be able to adjust on the fly to other needs.

Where does your design inspiration come from? 

Working with others on side projects is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. I’ve found that creating something for a small group of designers and developers allows teams to be much more adventurous and exploratory than they would be building something that’s going to be used by millions of people. Side projects are a great way to experiment with new ideas and techniques that can then be merged into everyday projects.

Who is the person you admire most?

There are quite a few designers I admire. Luke Wroblewski, Mike Monteiro, & Ben Callahan to name a few.