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Q&A with Michael Angeles

UX designer at Balsamiq

Hi, I'm Michael Angeles. I'm a user experience designer at Balsamiq. I also run a blog called Konigi. I do interaction, visual and motion design, and front end development. I'm a recent transplant from Brooklyn, NY where I lived for 20 years. I now live and work in Marin County, California with my wife and kids.

How did you get started in UX design?

I got into UX design by accident. I was interested in art for most of my life. My earliest creative memories are of drawing, and making little puzzle booklets and paper craft models.

In college I studied art history and went on to study library and information science in grad school with the intention of working on visual resources databases, having used them as an undergrad. I planned to continue Art History, but got side-tracked by web design. I started working as an information architect, doing interface design and front end development.

Let’s talk about the creative process and how you work. What tools and software do you use for your work?

My creative process is at times characterized by obsessive adherance to patterns and routine, and at other times by embracing randomness, serendipity, and the value of space. I like to life hack and find ways of settling into creative rhythm, so there are a lot of routines and rituals I stick to as cues to get into work mode. But I also like to regularly give myself a jolt by doing something that takes me out of my comfort zone or rewiring my brain by learning something new. I think of it as programming moments of stress and chaos into my life.

I use Balsamiq to wireframe (obviously). I use Sketch app (by Bohemian Coding - WSP) for visual design and illustration. For sketching I use a Pilot HiTec C and make my own sketchbooks. Atom is my code editor. Evernote keeps all my ideas and my swap folder.

I use Logic Pro X for music production with a Native Instruments keyboard and Maschine. I use Final Cut Pro, Screenflow, Motion and Hype for motion and video production.

What are you working on now?

At Balsamiq I work on our products and the ecosystem we've built around the company. I'm always interested in new creative pursuits, so at the moment, I've been doing some audio and visual work. I've started to produce small video projects, but what I've been doing as a side project mostly has been music. I've been taking piano lessons for the past year and working on music production.

What is your ideal work environment?

My ideal environment is my home studio and a co-working space. I've been lucky enough to work remotely for most of my career, and I've grown accustomed to having quiet space for my work. I value the freedom to work flexibly and be able to bike or take walks to give my mind some space away from the screen. Because I work remotely full time, I also crave face time with other people working on similar projects. I love co-working, but those opportunities aren't available where I live now, so you'll find me in coffee shops a few days a week.

Who are the creative people you admire most?

There are a lot of IA/IXD people I've learned a lot from, particularly when I started as an IA. I value the occasional check in with people like Lou Rosenfeld and Christina Wodtke, but the time I get to chat with them now is very rare.

When I think of creative people in general, I think the people I admire the most are those who had a DIY approach to their work. I think of people who created something out of nothing, or crafted an art where there was none. Someone like DJ QBert or Joy Division come to mind. I really admire their audacity. That's the kind of person I want to see myself as when I take on something new.