Ask anyone in the design community what they think of Dribbble, and they’ll tell you that they love it, and that it’s a great source of inspiration. But for some, it means a little bit more. For some, it launched their careers, and fostered them into the excellent designers that they are today. That was the case with today’s guest, Julien Renvoye.
Julien is a web and UI guy, originally from France, and now living in the US. Working at Mixpanel, he creates beautiful interfaces that are hard not to love. I chatted to him about Dribbble, inspiration, and advice for young designers.
Hey Julien, thanks so much for joining us on The Industry. Tell us a bit about yourself and the work you’re doing.
I like to think of myself as a young entrepreneur who loves creating things just for fun. Back in France in 2008 I created 2 startups – The first one was an online speed dating website, which I sold a few years ago. The other one is called RemixJobs. I started RemixJobs with my best friend Jeremy, who happened to be an amazing developer. RemixJobs is now a popular job board for creative people in France. It remains today a side project.
How did you get into the design industry?
I’m originally from France but I moved to San Diego 4 years ago. When I first arrived in the US, I thought about starting a small design studio, a one man show! And like a lot of us, one day I received a Dribbble invite and THAT was a life changer. My career really took off. Dribbble gave me and still gives me so much exposure and I’m very thankful to the team behind it. Today I am a full time web designer at Mixpanel, a brilliant analytic startup that found me on Dribbble :)
If you hadn’t become a designer, what do you think you’d be doing now?
I would travel! So much to see out there.
What does a typical day in the life of Julien Renvoye look like?
I am an early riser. Lately I have been waking up at 6:00 AM without even an alarm clock. I tried not to check my emails but since I work from home it’s sometimes stronger than me so I end looking at my emails sooner than I thought.
Then I usually spend time on Dribbble to check the new shots. This website is so addictive, especially when I posted a shot the day before. I’m like a kid. I can’t just wait to see the results! :)
I spend most of my day working on Mixpanel. I have been and still am redesigning the entire marketing site along side Dave Ruiz and Mason Yarnell. Mixpanel is constantly cooking new stuff. I’m really excited about that. And then my dog starts to bug me to take her outside. Seriously, could you say no to this?
Around 5:00 PM I try to stop working on Mixpanel and devote time to random stuff just to stay sharp. I have so many ideas and design concepts in my head that I like to take that time to do it.
You design for all kinds of mediums – iOS design, web design, icon design, illustration, and so on. How do these disciplines compare? If you could only do one of these for the rest of your career, which would it be, and why?
If I had to chose one discipline, it would probably be iOS design, or mobile design in general.
However, I find all of those disciplines complementary. Our design industry is now filled with so many talented designers that know how to combine all of those disciplines, which makes it hard to keep up if you only know how to design interfaces. Websites and iOS apps most of the time require illustrations and icons – If you don’t know those disciplines, you have to pass it on to someone else. But then I found it hard to find someone that would bring the touch and the style you want to add on to your design.
That’s why I choose a few years ago to start learning how to draw characters and illustrations and how to design icons. It makes me feel like I’m a better designer, because I can design anything from concept to completion now.
Your work has a clean, shiny, pixel-perfect feel to it. Where do you get inspiration?
I get inspiration from a lot of designers that I find everyday. I am a big fan of Mike Kus, Josh Hemsley, Ben Cline and so many more. Their work is unique, innovative and I love the characters. Very humble and talented people. Lately, I have also seen amazing work coming out from the Fantasy Interactive lab. Those guys are raising the bar really high for us which is very exciting.
If you could change one thing about your career to date, what would it be?
To start with, I would go to an art school to learn drawing right away. Then I would pack my suitcase and live in Russia for few years to learn how to make icons with Soft Facade. Those guys are insane! Then I would come back to the US and work a few years at Fantasy Interactive. Then I would go to Utah and work with Ben Cline who I’m a big fan of. Ben is not only a really good visual designer but also a really good interaction designer.
What is your workspace like? Are there any design tools that you simply couldn’t live without?
This is my workstation. It’s a nice small room facing the beach. Ahahah, just kidding! More seriously, as you can see, I use a Wacom tablet as my main screen so it’s easy for me to just draw something if I need to. I mainly use Photoshop to design UIs, websites and illustrations. I know a bit about Illustrator but not enough to feel comfortable designing icons or illustrations with it.
And finally, for those looking to get started in the big bad world of design, what tips or advice would you give?
The design industry is much more open than it was few years ago. Sites like Dribbble, Behance, and so many more can give the exposure you would need to get your name out there and get client inquiries. If you don’t have client inquiries yet, then start designing anything – side projects, or redesigning an existing web app. So many designers do that, and guess what, that is how I started as well.