Interview with Designmodo Designers and First Milestone
This week DesignModo passed the milestone of 1 000 000 Downloads and 10 000 Sales! We were able to reach these numbers in just six months (our first collective release was made in March, 2012). This is our first indeed important milestone, and we would like to share our success with you.
Interview with Vladimir Kudinov and Sergey Shmidt
I: Hi guys! Thank you for agreeing to this interview. How are you?
(Vladimir, Sergey together) Hi! Perfect!
I: OK, so let’s start? Recently, you’ve released a pack called the Bricks, consisting of four parts…
V: Just like I’m releasing a sequel… (Laughs) Yeah, yeah.
S: Yeah, in four series.
I: Some time has already passed after the release, and you can judge the first results. What are they?
V: We can. (smiles) Very good results!
S: We have reached a level of ten thousand purchases with this pack.
I: Wow! For what period?
V: Approximately in six months, starting from March. Then, we started working together, releasing Impressionist UI. And then, the countdown of sales started. And The Bricks makes a quarter of this figure (2 500 appr.), even though it is only one month old.
I: It made such success! Could you await such popularity from this pack?
S: Of course, we hoped for it, but we didn’t expect it.
V: Yes, but we do our best to get good statistics.
I: And what exactly do you do to get good statistics?
V: We wind them up! (Laughs) In fact, we work hard over each pack, thinking over the elements which will be required by the users. And we won’t release the product before we like it ourselves.
“If you love what you do, one day it will bring its results.”
I: But you make not only paid versions, but also free packs. Have you ever tracked the number of downloads of these components?
S: Yes. Recently, we’ve learnt that our free packs have a bit more than 1 million downloads. So, we have two reasons to be happy: 10 000 purchases and 1 million downloads.
I: Another surprise?
V: We are delighted with such results, but we could hardly expect such resonance and such quantity of feedback when we started creating the pack, because it was more like for fun. But if you love what you do, one day it will bring its results.
I: Are you currently working on something?
S: We are always working on something. (smiles)
I: So, you always have some projects under development, you always prepare something?
S: In fact, we wouldn’t like to expatiate upon it now, let it be a surprise.
I: OK, we’ll be waiting for it! When you prepare a project, which part of work is the hardest?
V: The hardest thing is to start! I can collect my thoughts and walk around my PC during a month, even if the work itself doesn’t take more than a week.
I: And how many hours a day do you work?
V: It depends, we try not to fix upon.
S: It is difficult to say: sometimes, I work from early morning to night, and the following day I have rest, to the contrary.
V: The state of mind for work can be felt from early morning, if you have it.
I: An how do you think, do you miss a bit of discipline in your work?
V: Why do we need such discipline? We aren’t an enterprise, we are just two persons drawing the things we like! All we need is our juvenile charge (laughs) and courage, but not discipline.
“To like yourself is a very serious stage, which you need to repeat, until you make everything you need!”
I: Sergey, and what about you?
S: Well… (Sounds of Counter-Strike can be heard on the background) Since our refusal of permanent employment and salaries, our discipline has been resting on money, therefore it is a kind of dependence.
V: Frankly speaking, do nothing is the hardest work for us, and so we always work over something.
I: You’ve already started speaking about it, but I’ll ask again: when you release a product, are you very critical about it?
V: Each of us is a critic. (smiles) We have a solid experience of work in web design: we’ve had permanent work, free-lance and a huge number of customers. Therefore, we know the things our clients may like or not. But as for me, I am very self-critical, and if I don’t like something, I can delete everything and start it over. This is the result. To like yourself is a very serious stage, which you need to repeat, until you make everything you need! (laughs)
S: I can talk for hours about self-criticism (laughs), but I won’t.
I: And is there something that motivates, inspires you?
S: Yes, this is our clients’ reaction. We constantly receive feedback by e-mail, in commentaries in Twitter, Facebook, and this feedback is the greatest motivation for us.
I: Apart from this, do you have a specific end goal you are aiming for, a goal for which you release these products?
V: This is an infinite goal. In fact, each new project is a level up for yourself, as you to make it better than the previous one. Design is a permanently changing thing, and you need to adjust to it, run alongside it.
I: This is an endless circle. Would you like to always make packs, or you would like something else?
V: We like what we do, this isn’t our limit, we already have ideas for the distant future. One of them is to make a full-fledged graphical package for UI designers. This will be a kind of specific software, but it is just in our plans. Probably, we will give more details in the future.
I: Let’s reflect a little bit. Do you have a dream? Right now, we are talking about work. Do you have a dream in your work?
S: That one day our work become the starting point for a novice designer, that he sees our work and says “Damn! I would like to be a designer like that!” (laughs).
V: We’ve got what to say to novice designers. With our UI packs, we set a standard for them, we show what they should be aiming for, what components should be like. We think that this standard is quite high. We would like the web to become more beautiful.
I: Now, we have deviated a little from the question, but OK. If we speak of imitation, please tell us: do you have a person, or probably a few persons who are an example for you?
V: Yes, a huge number of them. There are designers I respect, and I permanently follow what they do. But I wouldn’t like to name them.
S: My idols are not designers, but rather just famous people who have reached success: Steve Jobs, Richard Branson.
“I want to get everything, make something on my own, and in a large corporation, you’re just a cog.”
I: I guess that in our lives, we all have had cases when we needed to make a choice. For instance, when a person refuses a beneficial offer in favor of something else, actually making a sacrifice. Have you ever had to sacrifice something in favor of your work?
V: Yes, I’ve had sacrifices. For example, I’ve had to refuse offers of job from many famous companies: Apple, Google, etc.
I: Do you regret that?
V: No, I don’t. I want to get everything, make something on my own, and in a large corporation, you’re just a cog.
S: I’ve never had anything to refuse. However… OK, I made a choice in favor of our business when I had a stable work. It was just the beginning, and I quitted to nowhere, but I have no regrets.
“You have an unlimited access to design: you can do the same, you can do better. It is very important.”
I: Have you ever had cases of theft of ideas? When you stole yourselves, or when your ideas were stolen. If so, how do you feel about that? How do you struggle against it? And do you struggle at all?
V: It’s difficult to say. It’s like patterns. Design is patterns. Designers don’t make anything from scratch, they design based on the ideas already seen somewhere, however they think them out and change them. As a result, we can now see a huge number of clones of our packs. But when we entered this market, there was nothing but free packs on Dribbble. Everything has changed since “Impressionist”. And even though many have copied from us, up to the type of element and its location, I don’t see anything bad here. Competition is needed. A contest, a rivalry is needed.
S: I like that in design there is no such thing as a patent, since this stops the progress. Otherwise, we would have stopped on Windows 98, since all other things would have been occupied by somebody. Here is the free art! You have an unlimited access to design: you can do the same, you can do better. It is very important.
I: OK, let’s speak about personal things. Recently, you’ve moved from Russia to the US. Why?
V: There is a huge number of reasons for it, and it is an excellent, right decision.
S: I’d rather talk about why we moved here, rather than why we moved from there.
I: OK, let’s talk about that. How do you think, what can America give to you?
S: In America, there are absolutely all opportunities for self-realization.
V: IT industry and design are well developed here, therefore it is not strange that we’re here.
I: What impact did it have on you? On your work?
V: The more comfortable is our life, the better we feel, this is logical. Your environment affects your mood. If you sit behind a beautiful MAC, where everything works perfectly, you can feel the buzz from it too. Now, we’ve moved to a MAC.
I: A little about the future. If you created a company, what would it be like? Describe a perfect company as you imagine it, what office would you like to have?
S: An office similar to a loft, with no jackets or shirts.
V: Yes! No way!
S: Where there is always some music on the background.
V: This must be a creative place, where everyone feels that he means a lot here.
“Our main goal is to stay the same small company.”
I: And the company itself? Would you like to create it at all?
S: Of course, we would! We can say that we do have a company now, but it consists just of two persons and is completely unofficial. And if we speak of hiring someone, this person should feel “with-it in the coterie”, continue earning money by simply doing things he knows best.
V: The main thing is that we understand each other 100% and that such person doesn’t consider it as work. We do not force ourselves to make anything: we just make it, and that’s all. We like it. People in this company should be the same as we are. This is important.
I: But it can’t be done within a large corporation, so it is a small company?
V: Yes, of course. And our main goal is to stay the same small company.
I: So, you don’t want a global corporation?
S: And we don’t need a corporation! We are designers. (laughs)
V: Even if we think about the future, I wouldn’t like to head any corporation, nor work in it.
I: About “heading”. Would you like to be administrators, or you’d rather prefer to hire an independent person, a manager who would manage the others?
S: I know exactly that there are companies without any hierarchical structure, but where there is a person who gives everyone an example with his work, his achievements.
V: Just as in the jungle! (laughs). You are stronger, and everyone follows you. Here is the same. A table with the inscription “I am the director” doesn’t mean anything.
I: But still, answering the question: would you like to be administrators?
V: We want equivalence, as it is now.
I: OK, let’s talk about other things. How do you spend your free time?
S: I am ready to spend all my free time on NY! It is an enormous city, absolutely new to me and fundamentally different from anything I’ve seen before.
I: What hobbies do you have?
V: We are now exploring the city, as we have just moved here.
S: It so happens that design is our hobby (laughs).
V: We like active rest, but we can’t have it now.
I: Do your followers often write to you, if so, do you always answer?
V: They do write often, but we can’t always answer in time.
S: I always reply to all the letters I receive.
I: Is it easy for a stranger to make your acquaintance? For example, one of your followers living in NY reads this interview, learns that you’ve moved here and wants to meet you. Will it be easy to make it?
S: Maximally easy!
V: Of course, he will first have to fight with the guards… (laughs) In fact, it is very easy to meet us and communicate with us. We are a part of the design community, and we are always ready for new contacts.
I: And if this person wants to become your client?
S: It is very easy to become our client: you just need to visit DesignModo and buy one of our products! (laughs)
I: Okay. Well, guys, I was happy to talk to you. You are very positive! Thank you very much for this interesting interview!