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Q&A with Matt Gibson

UK designer and part-time Wookie

My name is Matt, and I'm a designer, tea lover and part-time Wookie.  During the day, I'm Chief Creative Officer at Cyber-Duck, a full service digital agency, based in London, UK.  At Cyber-Duck, I oversee all design work from the early research and planning stages, to sketching and designing interfaces. Alongside Cyber-Duck, I love getting involved in teaching the next generation of designers by lecturing and mentoring students at University of East London, as well as getting involved in initiatives like Young Rewired State.

How did you get started in UI design?

I've had a passion for design from an early age. I feel the role of a designer is like that of an engineer – investigating and solving problems and challenges, and making things easier for people to use – something which very much suits my pragmatic personality.

In terms of Web design, I started out building simple websites on Geocities as a teenager in the late Nineties, through to learning the foundations of what we now call user experience (UX) at university. I feel very lucky to have turned it into a career, as a Director at Cyber-Duck.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on an interesting project for the European Commission, helping people from the UK to learn more about the EU and find specific information related to their needs, for example, if they wanted to study abroad.

Recently I've been doing more branding work, helping the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI for short) overhaul their branding. IMI are the professional body for driving standards in the automotive sector in the UK, and have been operating since 1920, so a key challenge was to create a smart, contemporary brand, underpinned by the integrity of IMI's heritage.  You can read more about this project in-depth here:

What tools and software do you use for your work?

I tend to start most design work with pencil and paper. I develop responsive prototypes using either HTML / CSS or using Axure, depending on the complexity of the design and interaction patterns. I use Illustrator and Photoshop primarily to explore art direction.

What is your ideal work environment?

I love to work with and bounce ideas off of other people, so I'm quite lucky that at Cyber-Duck I get to work alongside 30+ extremely talented people, each with their own areas of expertise.  Our main office environment also lends itself to creativity too; it's a 500 year old grade II listed building with bags of character; we have a lot of whiteboards and walls for collaborative working and then break-out spaces for more quiet, reflective thinking.

Where are your favorite places for sharing experiences?

I use Pinterest boards for collecting, curating and sharing design patterns that I've come across or that I'm exploring. At Cyber-Duck we also have a couple of ways of collectively sharing with eachother: We have a weekly digest email that rounds up any interesting or noteworthy news from the company or the wider world of design.  We also have a weekly team-wide catch up where everyone has the opportunity to show anything they're currently working on, or tell the team about something they've learnt, whether it's a new technique or a good article.

Other than that, I share a lot of my experiences when I get to speak at conferences and meetups; I find they're a great way to meet other people who work in the same industry and learn about the interesting stuff everyone else is getting up to.

Who are the designers you admire most?

Within our industry, I often find myself reading and sharing musings from: Frank Chimero, Karen McGrane, Brad Frost, Erik Spiekermann and Donald Norman.  Outside of our industry, hands-down, the most inspiring talk on the topic of creativity that I've ever seen has to be this gem by John Cleese.