Episode 8

Bonus Episode: Adam Darowski

We’re back with another Overtime bonus episode—a quick discussion with a team member about their role at Dribbble and musings on their favorite shot by a community member. This time Dan sits down to chat with Dribbble’s front-end developer and product designer, Adam Darowski.

In this bonus episode, they discuss the challenges in designing for designers, Adam’s love of baseball and German soccer, how he recorded and produced his own punk rock album, his affection for porcupines, and a shot from Sergio Ingravalle.

Adam’s Dribbble Shot pick:

Scribble Portrait: Aubameyang aubameyang drawing football illustration pencil photoshop portrait scribble sketch soccer sport wacom

Scribble Portrait: Aubameyang

by Sergio Ingravalle

Scribble portrait of BVB star Aubameyang created as fast as possible. Check the attachment for a look at the full artwork.

View on Dribbble

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Dan: Hey everybody, welcome to Overtime, Dribbble’s audio companion. I’m your host Dan Cederholm. And today is another bonus episode of Overtime. We’ve been talking to the Dribbble team itself, and getting to know them. Having them choose a favorite work of theirs so we could talk about it.

Today is Adam Darowski, and Adam is our front-end developer/product designer and all-around good guy, musician, and baseball aficionado. We get into some cool stuff around design and all that stuff. Please enjoy this shorter bonus episode with Adam. We’ll see you on the next Overtime. Be sure to rate and/or review us on iTunes, please. Thanks for listening. Welcome to Overtime, Adam Darowski. Great to have you on here.

Adam: That’s for having me.

Dan: It’s awesome to have you here. It’s also awesome to have you on the team, the Dribbble team. This is another bonus episode, where we get to talk to the members of the team, and force them to talk to me and share a bit about what they do here, but also choosing a shot that they like by someone in the community. Then we can talk about that too, which is cool, because there’s so much good work on there. It’s cool to shin the spotlight on cool people and good designers, who do awesome work.

Adam: Absolutely.

Dan: Welcome to the show. You’ve been on the Dribbble team for how long?

Adam: It was the end of last summer that I joined, around the time of the Salem summit, July of ‘15. It’s been a bit over a year and a lot of fun.

Dan: I particularly have benefitted from your presence because you’re a wonderful front-end developer and product designer. You’ve been a real asset on the team. We are thrilled to have you.

Plus, we’ve known each other for a long time before Dribbble.

Adam: I figured there was the chance we’d never work together because I kind of have done very similar work to you all through my career. Luckily you got too busy to do it all.

Dan: Exactly, and now you’re doing it better than I would. You’re on top of this stuff more now. We’ve known each other for a while. Tell the audience where you hale from. We’re a distributed team, and we work remotely. Where are you located?

Adam: For the vast majority of my life I also lived in Massachusetts, south of Boston, so still a ways from you guys. But now I’m up in New Hampshire in the Monadnock region, a little town called Peterborough. It’s a beautiful little town near Mt. Monadnock. We’ve been here for about two-and-a-half years now, and really enjoying it.

Dan: I always enjoy the pictures from Peterborough.

Adam: It’s a pretty place.

Dan: It is. Would you say like an idyllic New Hampshire town?

Adam: I would.

Dan: Or New England town for that matter.

Adam: Really good foliage this time of year, and we’ve got some good wildlife walking around our town too. It’s really neat.

Dan: There was an interesting story you shared about a porcupine recently. You got close to a porcupine, which I was amazed about because I thought you couldn’t get near a porcupine.

Adam: When I’m driving around the last street I go on before I get to my house, it’s called Old Mountain Road, and it’s basically what you would picture a street called Old Mountain Road to look like. It’s a tiny road that crawls up a mountain.

That’s where I see the vast majority of my porcupines. They just cross the street. I happened to be driving home and there was one, so I pulled over, got out, and went over and said hi to it. It was like “What are you doing?” Ran away. Didn’t really run. It just kind of scampered away.

Dan: They don’t shoot their quills? That’s a cartoon thing maybe.

Adam: They don’t.

Dan: You have to get close to them.

Adam: One time I was out for a run and saw one. I followed it into the woods and watched it do its thing. They’re quite tame. They don’t throw anything at you unless you rub up against them. Then they’re going to poke you.

Dan: You may have stumbled upon the next cool pet craze, porcupines. I assume we’re going to hear soon that you have one in your house.

Adam: I also have a dog, and dogs and porcupines don’t mix well.

Dan: That’s true. They don’t like each other. I love talking to the team members. We talk about stuff that has nothing to do with anything. Well, that had everything to do with wildlife and animals.

Tell the folks at home what you do at Dribbble. We talked about it before, but what do you do, and how you got there  your path to where you are now in your illustrious career.

Adam: My illustrious career, let’s see. Previously, I was at HubSpot, and before that I was at a place called PatientsLikeMe which Jeffrey Chupp was also on the team, and Rich also worked there as well. That’s where I met Rich. So that was a great place to work because I met a bunch of people that I’ve worked with since then, and will certainly continue to for the rest of my career.

Jeffrey and I both joined HubSpot around the same time. Then we joined Dribbble together around the same time. So that is how I got here, and the work I do is similar to the work you do.

For example, the things I’ve worked on recently are the shot grids, making sure they work the best on every device at every viewport. Email templates, I work on those quite a bit to make them work on all the different email clients. And basically, any area of the site that needs UI attention I can hop right in there.

Dan: That’s super helpful and valuable. A lot of the people that use Dribbble have you to thank for a lot of the features and the fact that they work in the browser they’re using, or the device. That’s been really cool. I know previously being the sole front-end person on the team, I felt there were a lot of holes in terms of it would be cool if this was more responsive or better performant but I don’t have the time to do that. You’ve been really on top of that stuff. Everyone in the community should be thanking Adam.

Adam: Everybody provides a lot of great feedback on the shots I post. I certainly feel it.

Dan: That’s a good point. The stuff you’ve uploaded to Dribbble about your Dribbble work has had a lot of good feedback, back and forth. You’ve incorporated feedback from the community.

Adam: It’s a good place to get a lot of good ideas, because obviously, people who comment on Dribbble shots use the site heavily just as we do, so they’ve got a great perspective too.

Dan: A very passionate bunch.

Adam: Yes.

Dan: Mostly friendly.

Adam: Almost always.

Dan: I’m kidding, but it is hard. Do you feel like designing and making stuff for a community of designers is difficult, sort of a challenging position?

Adam: It’s challenging but it’s one of those challenges that’s a good thing, and I think works out better for everybody in the end. I forget exactly what I was working on recently, but I was about to finish and post the shot, and I thought to myself what is the feedback I’m going to get on this. I was like I should do that, and then I tried that and was like oh, that’s even better. Even before people are giving feedback, they’re helping me by me anticipating what their feedback will be.

Dan: That’s interesting. That’s cool. I think I’m the same way, regardless of what I’m uploading. I do sort of think about how this is going to be presented and how it’s going to be received. We’re fortunate that Dribbble is a very passionate community about design, which is what we’re doing. It’s sort of this synergistic thing. Most of the time it works.

Let’s talk about  you chose a shot you wanted to talk about, and it’s a good one. I’m glad you chose this one. It’s a super good one. Tell us about the shot and the designer and why you chose it.

Adam: The shot is called “Scribble Portrait: Aubameyang” and it is by Sergio Ingravalle. He’s from Germany, and it’s a scribble portrait of a soccer player, or football player, depending on where you hale from  named Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who happens to be a striker for my favorite club, which is a German club called Borussia Dortmund.

The reason I picked the shot is I’m usually very calculated in the work I do. For example, the shot grid stuff I’m working on now, I have spreadsheets of math that tells me what breakpoints I should be designing at. The fact that somebody took a pen and scribbled until he had what is an amazing portrait of a really incredible-looking athlete is just beyond me. That he could just take a pen, scribble, and come up with something like this.

Dan: I totally agree. It’s quite remarkable, the style he’s using here. What’s really cool is it’s a favorite player of yours on a favorite soccer team.

Adam: Yes. I kind of put in a request for it because I saw him doing other scribble portraits and I was like oh, you’re from Germany, you should post some German players. Then he started posting more German players that I happened to follow for some reason. Then he came up with this one and I was like oh, that’s the one.

Dan: It looks like something that would have taken hours, but I assume that it didn’t and he scribbles it. I would love to look over the shoulder to see how this was done. That would be really fascinating.

Adam: I was digging more into Sergio’s Instagram account and he didn’t do it for the scribble portraits, but some of his other portraits he does, which he has many different styles which blows me away even more. He posted many process shots there to kind of give an idea of how he does these things in layers. It’s really cool.

Dan: It’s awesome. Just looking at his profile, there’s a lot of portraits, and some of them have similar styles  some have the scribble style and it looks like he has other styles he uses that are equally unique. This is fascinating stuff. People need to check him out for sure.

So you’re a fan of German soccer.

Adam: I am.

Dan: Before that, you’ve been a fan of baseball, big fan, right?

Adam: Yes. Been a fan of baseball ever since I was 10. The soccer thing is very new but also I dove in head first. My son got into it so I followed him into it.

Dan: That’s a good way to get into things. I wanted to bring up baseball because you’ve done some interesting web work on baseball and statistics and so tell us about your side project.

Adam: My side project is called the “Hall of Stats” and it’s an alternate Baseball Hall of Fame populated by a mathematical formula. Between steroids and different ways to evaluate baseball players, there’s a lot of different opinions about who should be in the Hall of Fame. And basically, this is an objective look just at the numbers to reduce every baseball player in history to a single number, and then rank them by that number, and it’s a Hall of Fame based just on that.

In addition to the baseball research required to come up with this formula to reduce every baseball player to a single number, there’s also a whole website around it. I’ve got a page for every player in history that shows how the formula was concocted for that player. There’s team rankings, positional rankings, and it’s a fun side project. I get to hack on a little Ruby on Rails when the kids go to bed or something.

Dan: Relax with Rails. That could be your new book, actually.

Adam: It was launched in 2012, and Jeffrey Chubb, who is also on the team, was the main developer that started on it. Then Michael Berkowitz who we also worked with at PatientsLikeMe, took on a lot of the work after that. I did most of the work then and now I mostly maintain it and add a little something every now and then.

Dan: But it’s been recognized in the baseball world as a real thing.

Adam: It has. I’ve spoken at some baseball conferences about it, which is kind of wild. I was speaking at a conference, and then speaking after me was Peter Gammons, which was kind of neat. It’s kind of funny that some of those people actually know what the work is, and it’s even followed by some baseball players that are in the Hall of Stats but not in the Hall of Fame, like David Cohen for example, a good pitcher from our youth. He likes the fact that it says he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Dan: I bet he does. They want this to blow up and be official because then they would be in the Hall of Fame.

Adam: Right.

Dan: That’s cool and it illustrates side projects can be fun, about something you’re passionate about, but also can turn into bigger and better things. I think it’s a testament to side projects.

Adam: All through that, I posted the work in progress up on Dribbble, so it’s fun to look back and see exactly where that project started.

Dan: I remember that. I distinctly remember that, and that was really fun to watch. Where can they find that again on the web?

Adam: That’s or @HallOfStats on Twitter. It’s pretty easy to find.

Dan: That’s super easy. The other thing I wanted to talk to you about, now that I have you, is music. That’s another thing that is a big passion.

Adam: It is.

Dan: I’m going to mention it so people know. Adam recorded his own album, punk-rock album, and self-released it how long ago?

Adam: About a year ago.

Dan: It’s awesome, and he does all the instruments on it. It’s like whoa, we have a legitimate rock star on the team.

Adam: I don’t know about that but it was fun to do, especially after a ten-year gap of not recording anything. I got off my butt and did it.

Dan: How did you do that? I was a musician probably around the same time you were originally. I still dabble in things, but I haven’t really done anything serious as of late. You’re inspiring because you actually put together this whole album. How did it come about? How did you discipline yourself to do it?

Adam: I mostly just decided I was going to write something literally because I didn’t want ten years to elapse since I had recorded something. It used to be such a big part of what I did. Then I didn’t do it for the longest time. I’ve got three kids that take up a lot of time, and work, and stuff. I was going to make sure ten years doesn’t pass, so I’m going to write a song. Then that song turned into oh, I’m going to do a couple more and put out an EP. Then man, once you start doing it, all of a sudden it starts flowing. Before I knew it, I had an album, and I put it out last November. It was pretty cool.

Dan: That’s totally cool and inspiring. It’s not too late. It’s never too late to go back.

Adam: Never too late, Dan.

Dan: You know what’s cool  technology has made it possible for us to do this easier. The home recording has gone from  I remember the first time experimenting with recording when I was in fifth grade, on a four track. The four-track recorder was giant, this giant machine we had to borrow from the band teacher. It was on a cassette, and now it’s like you plug in an instrument and have it sound like whatever you want. Do you think that helped in terms of time efficiency? Just being able to use a Mac to record.

Adam: Absolutely. My band recorded a CD in ‘99 or 2000. We went to a small studio for three days and recorded a bunch of stuff. We had separate rooms, and fancy microphones. I listened back to that album now and it sounds like completely garbage compared to the one I did a year ago on my computer myself.

Dan: Did by yourself, on the computer, with a mic maybe.

Adam: My vocal mic was literally iPhone earbuds. That was literally what I used for a mic. It was the only mic I had.

Dan: This is amazing. Technology is good. It’s not all bad.

Adam: Even if you don’t have the best technology, you can make it good.

Dan: That’s true too. Some of my favorite recordings probably sound horrible quality wise, but it’s the message.

Adam: I lucked out too that it’s punk rock. I just record it with these earbuds and then throw a little fuzz on it and nobody can tell the difference.

Dan: The new punk rock is recording an album through iPhone earbud microphones. That makes sense. It’s like the low-budget way of recording now.

Adam: Absolutely.

Dan: I love it. We’ve got this multi-talented dude on our team, Adam Darowski, and then we got to talk to him and this has been fun. Thank you for sharing your story and also the shot. Folks should check out Sergio Ingravalle’s profile because there’s some amazing stuff on here portrait wise, super talented. Thanks, Adam.

Adam: Thank you, Dan.

Dan: See you on Slack.

Adam: Absolutely.