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Q&A with Dan Rose

Interface Designer from Syracuse, NY | Interactive agency WSOL

I’m Dan Rose, an Interface Designer living in Syracuse, NY. I work remotely for WSOL, an interactive agency near Chicago, IL. One could say I'm fairly entrenched in the web design community. I authored Photoshop Etiquette, a guide to discernible web design. I’m also the graphics section editor for Smashing Magazine, and I write and speak often about the seemingly diminished role of Photoshop in web design processes. Near and dear to me is an event I started in my Upstate NY community called Syracuse Sync. My curious musings are archived via my Twitter account, @dblizzy.

I suppose that’s all my “web credentials”. More importantly, I’m a husband to a wonderful wife and father to a wonder ball of a daughter.

More importantly, I’m a husband to a wonderful wife and father to a wonder ball of a daughter

What hardware do you use? 

My “normal" hardware setup is fairly straightforward: sitting on my desk is a 15" MacBook Pro connected to a Apple Thunderbolt Display. The only thing fancy about my wireless mouse is that I use the Magic Charger by Mobee. I love not having to replace batteries. Life changing stuff.

Also sitting on my desk is another 15” MacBook Pro. I know, seems superfluous, but like others, I have a “work” computer and a “personal” computer. I use my personal one as my media center, streaming music all day long to my Big Jambox.

Not necessarily design or computer related, I get great use of my Pro Mini Hoop in my office, which takes a beating from some impromptu solo dunk contests. Probably the most “hardware-ish” thing I own.

And what software?

I’m a card-carrying Adobe Creative Cloud member, of which I get tons of use out of Photoshop and Illustrator daily. I rely on Coda as my primary text editor. I communicate with the other members of our design team via Skype, which is worth noting that I’ve mastered the art of emoticons and relaying animated gifs through. I still use Sparrow for email, but I’m actively looking for a good alternative, you know, since it’s never getting updated again (thanks Google!). Speaking of Google, I’m a Chrome guy as far as browsers go. Other apps that are a part of my routine include Dropbox, Evernote, and Spotify.

What would be your dream setup? 

Tough one! I’d start by consolidating the two MacBooks I have, keeping the Thunderbolt Display, and adding a suite of devices I could test on. If we’re talking “dream” scenario, having the Apple lineup of iPhone, iPad, and iPad Mini would suffice. My brain hurts trying to think of Android or other devices and what ones make sense to test on, so I’m leaving them out for now.

Although I do the majority of my work at my desk, I travel for speaking engagements and quarterly to my company’s office and the 15” MacBook Pro isn’t ideal on a plane or in coffee shops. Probably more “practical” than “dream” would be investing in a smaller MacBook Air.

This is a really timely question! We just bought a house and I’m in the middle of fashioning my studio, considering lighting, seating, art, and storage. Track lighting, hardwood floors, a chalkboard wall, and a bead board ceiling are all things I’d love for my workspace. I probably don’t have a very cohesive vision in mind, but it’s super fun trying to shape a room from scratch.

It’s super fun trying to shape a room from scratch

Where does your work inspiration come from? 

I’ve always had trouble finding inspiration, as it directly relates to design, in things outside of design. Some people can look at a playground or vineyard and use it as a starting point for web design. I am not one of those people. I enjoy riffing off signage, packaging, or generally other “already designed’ things, and using that as a starting point for creativity. I realize that sounds constricting, but I find I’m closer to an “aesthetic remixer” than an “aesthetic pioneer”.

Recognizing the need to help people can also be inspiring. Doing purposeful work is inspiring. What gets me amped is the idea of making something new and impactful for someone who needs it. I’m rarely inspired to work on a project I can’t connect with personally, or just for the sake of adding something to a portfolio. I do, however, find myself invested in a project that means something to someone I can empathize with. That’s when I’m the most inspired to do great work. I recognize my God-given talent for design and find inspiration in seeking out opportunities to return it back by helping people.

I recognize my God-given talent for design and find inspiration in seeking out opportunities to return it back by helping people