Even if you’ve never heard of Vladimir Kudinov, you’ve almost certainly seen some of his work. Originally from a small town near the Ural Mountains – Ozersk (Russia), he’s a creative designer who’s been involved in a number of high-profile site designs. Although his first passion was coding, he has developed a strong interest towards design and he decided to move to Moscow in order to follow his dream.
We recently interviewed Vladimir exclusively for DesignModo and asked him a few questions that should be relevant to all web designers interested in creating great websites.
1. Hi Vladimir! We are happy that you found some time to answer our question. We would like to know how everything started.
Hi Ekaterina! It all started at school, when I didn’t want to do much in general and if I ended up doing something, it didn’t really work. But the first computer that my parents bought has lighted up a chance in my life. My parents always encouraged me and helped me with anything I tried and believed that the computer they bought me will make me famous some times in my future life.
I remember it was July of 1996, when I had a computer in my house for the first time and since then I started growing hopes thinking that this object will help me a lot in life. I started programming, by using very simple languages that are usually taught in schools, and I have slowly moved to web programming.
I must confess I fell in love with programming and couldn’t sleep at night because of it. Once I got into bed, ideas kept coming into my head and I usually got up and wrote them down.
7 years went by and I have started drawing sketches to my programming codes. I just wanted to make them look prettier. This is how my programming habits slowly changed into creating design. I went through school and then through university in Moscow that I have never finished by the way.
2. Why did you choose to design and in the end gave up programming?
I got sick of exact and stable thinking, I wanted to go creative and do something new everyday. I got sick of code errors so everything moved slowly to design.
3. Tell us about your first job. What difficulties did you find on the way and was there someone who to help you?
When I started working as a web-master for a factory producing still pipes “ChimStalComplex”, I gained about 600 RUB’s (~20$) per month. That is when I got my first professional experience and that’s when I started experimenting with PHP. After this I spent some time in a company providing internet services but in short time I figured that this city wasn’t really the place for me. That’s when I gave up my university, my hometown and moved to Moscow.
4. How did Moscow treat you? Did you go through a lot of difficulties until finding what you were looking for?
Like everybody else, I dreamed about being lucky enough to come to the capital of Russia, get a great job and have a nice car. But it obviously didn’t turn out this way. I came to the city with a friend of mine. We got a small apartment and started working in a “no-name” company. Back then, I never stayed overtime at work. It was whether because I didn’t like my boss, or the wage wasn’t enough for me. I always had reasons changing jobs every 6 months. It was back then, when I realized that if you want to be someone in life, you have to do what you like. Once you find what you like, you can find a way to make money out of it.
Only after a few years of hard work in design and some clients that were interested in my work, I started getting proposals from different important IT companies from Moscow.
5. Tell me about your job at TNT TV Channel?
Before my offer at TNT TV, I had an unimportant job that I didn’t give much interest to. Someone called me from TNT TV and I had an interview with them, after which I started working there. I really liked it there because I had the possibility to get more professional in my job and talk to creative people that had strong incentives. I didn’t really present much of my own works there, because I was part of the designers’ team, but I learned a lot there and I started working on my designer skills at home a lot. It was then when I decided to start working on my own professional plan.
6. How come you left that job, and why did you love to Gazprom?
I cannot disclose much information about my job at Gazprom because of the NDA and other documents. I work on several big projects there, doing interesting stuff. I think I will be able to show my works only after the New Year. All in all I am pretty happy with the results I get.
7. What is your work plan when designing a new website?
First, I have to know what does the client need, think about how to make his ideas real and a way to make it happen. I usually check out rival websites and learn about their pros and cons. In design you either go for something simple and comfy or for something really creative and original.
8. Do you have some golden rules in your designer job that you can share with us?
- Love what you do and do it until you love it, otherwise you won’t be satisfied with your job.
- Search for inspiration. This might sound overrated, but you have to find ways in order to boost your creativity. It can be anything – from a website with creative ideas, a book, a box of chocolates or even a walk in town.
- If today is not your lucky day, and you can’t get anything done right, then leave what you are doing and go have a stroll in a park and come back to whatever you were doing tomorrow. You can’t make yourself be creative when you’re not in the mood for it.
- Watch design tutorials several times, and repeat each step in order to achieve the same result as in the tutorial. Don’t cram your computer with hundreds of tutorials that you will never get the chance to see. Download a few and watch them. As soon as you do that, delete them after you’ve mastered what you needed.
- If you don’t heart the city you live in, don’t think too much. Figure out a way to move to the city where you can be more creative. It might get hard in the beginning but you can win more out of it than lose something.
- Try to find a job where bigger designer teams work. You don’t even know how much experience you can get from fellow co-workers. Leave a highly paid job that doesn’t inspire you.
- Learn to have your own opinions. Clients look for designers with own opinions that have a large background experience and he would like to hear your own ideas. You can even argue with the client if you have better ideas that you would want him to hear.
- Don’t do your job just to get money but at the same time put yourself out there as a great designer who deserves what he gets. Estimate your work and the budget you will get for it. Argue with the client until you reach the price you want and if you see he is not up for it – leave him. Always think about the win-win situation where both of you would be happy with the result of your work.
- Include the best work in your portfolio and leave out the works you are not sure are good enough. Try to create a special design for each client so that you would proudly show it to your friends.
- If you are a newbie in design, start by examining a lot of works from professional designers. While seeing a design, think about it and draw out its best moments. Make screenshots of what you like and remember them. These are the examples that set your vision about design and your future work. If you see a beautiful design and think you can never make it, you are wrong. Start by copying what you like in order to practice, you will see that it gets better every time.
- If you get certain money for your work, but you know you could get more, don’t blame the clients. This is simply because your work is still not good enough. Check out some better designs that cost more and think about what you are doing wrong.
- Don’t ignore the design community. For some years now, the Russian designer community has grown considerably and we have many talented designers and illustrators. Ask questions and don’t be shy.
- A professional grows from his projects so don’t be afraid to take on complicated projects that seem to be impossible to make in the beginning.
- Work on your portfolio! This is how you will get picked by your future clients.
- Pick your clients carefully. Be different and be more confident in yourself.
9. Do you have any role models in the designer world, or maybe some websites you consider are great?
I don’t have role models but I can definitely say Behance for instance is full of really professional people: http://www.behance.net/connections/find?field_group=21
10. What design trends await us in 2012?
So far minimalism is still pretty trendy. The inner shadow and drop shadow like Apple’s logo is one big trend as well, or big background pictures and interactive design of course.
11. Is there someone for who you’d really like to create a website? For free?
I think I would create an awesome web site for God and for Bambi. I would actually really like to contribute for a website that I would use daily.
12. How do you think you can make a client decide to pick a more creative design and to think out of the box?
When you know what you want and you can explain what you want to yourself first, then you can be sure luck is on your side. I have tested it on my own examples and you really have to be and look professional in order for the client to understand you. The more a client pays you, the more he listens to what you have to say about his future project. In Russia, people still don’t really understand how can you turn design into real money.
13. What should junior web designers take into consideration when starting this job?
Besides having a good work technique in Photoshop and 3D, a junior web designer should also pay attention to other stuff like:
- Information hierarchy. How you can group different information into logical groups
If you can draw well, then maybe you should go for promotional websites and 3D. If you are more into logic thinking, then maybe you could try informational design. Don’t be afraid to learn more.
14. What inspires you?
Today what inspires me a lot is Rome and its typography. Last month it was a nice box of chocolate I bought. In a year from now a polar bear might tell me a story that I would love and this is how I would get inspiration. You have to search for different sources of inspirations, not paying attention how crazy they might sounds.
16. What is the website of the future and how will it look?
It will be simple and interactive, looking like all the rest. I think websites will look very much alike in the future.
17. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In another country and owing my business, with a burning heart and a soul full of desire.