A visual designer at Hewlett-Packard, Nathan Lincoln has been doing design work in Seattle since graduating from SCCA in 2013. A visual designer with in the User Experience department, we chatted with him about his life as a designer.
How did you end up deciding to be a designer?
I have always been drawn towards art and visual culture. Both of my parents are creatives and my brother is also an artist. I think that I wanted to be a designer before I even knew that it was a profession. I worked in record stores for several years and was always drawn into albums as much by the cover art as by the music. When I moved to Seattle in 2005 my first job was at Easy Street Records where I met two great friends, Krispijn Larrison and James Caudle- a fantastic collage artist (James also introduced me to collage, which was what I submitted when I applied to Seattle Central). Krispijn and I sort of dared each other to apply for the design program at Seattle Central after taking a look around and realizing that we were not getting any younger and our career options were limited (Krispijn is now a designer at Starbucks).
While you were at SCCA, what was it that kept you going?
While I was at Seattle Central I had so much support- my family, girlfriend, all of the other students, the amazing faculty and the knowledge that I was going through the program for myself were all great motivators. The excitement came from being surrounded by so many intelligent and creative people being taught by such passionate and dedicated teachers. Everybody is stretching themselves and the energy was reciprocal. There was a bit of a competitive spirit but it was all in the interest of seeing other students succeed and express themselves.
Specific projects that stand out as really important to your development as a designer?
I love typography as well as the base principles behind how people digest images, so I was always excited by the opportunity to make posters. I made a series of movie posters for self-promotion and eventually adapted those into postcards. In my current role as a designer at HP, I don’t get the opportunity to make very many posters but I do set a lot of type.
Have any side projects you work on? What have been passion projects of yours?
I haven’t done any freelance work, but I am always drawing, taking photos, making collages, visualizing jokes, making cards, and experimenting with new media. I worked on a seasonal style guide for Amazon and was given almost complete creative freedom from the sketching and mood board stages up to implementation and rules of use. This is definitely not the most polished work I have done, but the freedom and amount of work that went into the guide definitely made it one of the most enjoyable projects I have worked on.
How would you describe your design style?
I would describe my style as abstract, vibrant, irreverent, & neat. I like the crisp lines and bright colors of graffiti, pop, and op art and the tight compact typography of letterpress posters.
How did you end up at your current work?
I am currently working on the User Experience team at HP Helion. My work involves making complex dash-boarding elements easy to read. There is a huge of amount of information to be digested so I need to make sure that hierarchy is clear and that users can act on the information in a simple and intuitive way. I was referred for this job by a coworker at a previous contract position. I’ve had great luck with contract positions and I feel very fortunate to be in the role I’m in now. The projects are interesting, my coworkers are awesome, and I’m in a position that I never imagined before studying design.
Walk us though a project that you’ve worked on that tells us a little bit about the world of design you are in.
A lot of the work that I am doing is proprietary, but I am turning prototypes into interaction patterns and dash-boarding elements. This involves researching data visualization, creating icons, wire-framing, white-boarding, rapid iteration, drawing, and teaching myself efficiencies. We work in one week sprints so the turn around is really fast.
Pro tips for us designers out there?
If I had to give advice to current students, I would say to immerse yourself in design, talk to other designers, and be inspired by visual culture as a whole- not just things traditionally thought of as design. I try to remind myself on the most stressful days that I am still doing what I love for a living.
To check out more of Lincoln’s work visit nathanlincoln.com.