Meet Sidd - a Solo user and freelance web designer living and working in India. He's agreed to answer a few questions and provide you with a little design inspiration for our second User Profile. Take it away, Sidd...
Tell the people at home a little bit about yourself.
My name is Siddharth Sharma. I’m a freelance web designer and brand consultant based in Dehradun, India. I am a blessed son, husband and leader, and I was Merchant Marine for 7 years. I gave up my military career back in 2009 and since then, I have been working as a freelancer.
I have great love for interfaces, typography, justice and - more recently - hand-lettering. The things I lose sleep over are poor design and unethical practices.
What type of work do you do and what sector do you work in?
I am a UX and Brand Consultant for all things web. Lately, my overwhelming love of hand lettering and print has made me venture out and publish my first ever print catalogue for a client.
Who’s your favourite artists or designer
I really don't know how to pick just one, so here are a few of my favourites: Paul Rand, Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ive, Ryan Hamrick, Sergey Shapiro and Orman Clark. I still have a few more shout outs I could give, but that’s enough for now.
How long have you been freelancing?
I’ve been freelancing now for about 5 years, and if you want to know more, you can see some of my work and find examples of the type of clients I have worked for on my website, Sidd at Work.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration in various different places. For instance, I like listening to podcasts and I also find lots of inspiring stuff on the web. I find Dribbble and design award websites great places to go if I need inspiration.
I also enjoy reading interviews. There’s always something to pick up from them. It’s fascinating to see how other folks approach their work, especially when they are in the same line of work as you. Invariably there is a nugget or two or wisdom to pick up from such interviews.
What stage of the design process do you give the highest priority to?
For me, what’s most important is defining clear goals for a project so you have a vision you can follow up with thorough research and planning. Having defined goals and a strong vision are tied together so closely that I think of them as one.
Also, when you come out of this preliminary stage of a job, you must feel consumed by the idea you have for your end product. You must envision how it’s going to turn out and be able to see it.
What’s the most useful tool or technique you use in your work?
Praying. I pray before, during and after a job. After that I use sketching to draw diagrams and help plan my wire-framing. Pencil and paper stuff. The three Ps - these are my secret weapons: Praying, pencils and paper.
Is there a font you’re guilty of using a lot in your work?
Currently I like to use Proxima Nova and Brandon Grotesque. In the past it was Trajan Pro and Futura which I probably used too much. As for the future, well, I’m growing quite fond of Myriad Pro at the moment so I expect I’ll be using a lot more of that.
Name a design-related book you highly recommend reading.
I have seen a few and read some. But I don’t think books really do that much for you. My advice to you is to stop reading and start practicing your discipline. In my opinion design books don't really do anything for you. You just feel good collecting them. You may even fool yourself into thinking you actually learned something by reading them, but no.
It is in focused hard work, done with diligence and consistency, that real improvement lies. I discovered this quite recently, after a big shift in my thinking, which came after adopting a disciplined approach to doing my thing; practicing without fail, day-in-day-out, and with clear-cut objectives.
Have you seen any design recently that excited you?
Yes, I love the 30 Years of Apple website and, more recently, the site for The Hunger Games film, because I think that both the layouts are grabbing. Designers at Apple consistently hit home runs with the new designs they come out with. Design is their forte. Also, the typography is on a completely different level. The colour schemes are fantastic and the subtle interactions make the experiences so much more engaging. Also, in both cases, the UX is super exciting and enjoyable.
Name a magazine you read on a regular basis.
None anymore. I just want to create stuff whenever I can make the time or listen to podcasts. However, I was at one point in time, a regular reader of Smashing Magazine.
What do you do in your downtime?
I have no downtime now, and that is a good thing. All my time is invested. But on Sundays I stay away from my machine. That is the time to rest, renew, remember and recharge and I focus my attention to investing in people specially.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
My highlight so far has been to stop thinking of it as a Big Deal (“Ain’t nobody got time for that!”). It is NOT. My purpose in life supersedes that easily, and the transcending call upon all our lives to Love and Serve beyond all else is at the centre of all I do now.
It’s why I gave up a lucrative career in the Merchant Marines, where I was well on my way to make mega bucks, enjoying super perks, and living the high-life, being a mover and shaker in those circles, for something which actually gave me the chance of making meaning out of my all of work.
What’s your favourite Solo tool or feature?
I can't pick one... time-tracking and invoicing top my list. I think they are pretty effortless and intuitive in their design and you just get used to them so quickly. I also like it that you can create projects out of quotes with a single-clicks – easy peasy!
Do you have any secret tips or advice for the readers at home?
Stop wasting time and start investing time. Think of all of your time as an investment. When you are "doing something", you are not "doing something else", so make sure you really want to be doing whatever it is you are doing at that moment.
And dream bigger. Start with a clear-cut vision - with the end in mind - and remember where there is no vision, people perish. Give and be willing to help more than you receive. I have lots of other tips to give but I guess this will be all for now.
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