Episode 65

Put A Label On It (Or Don't)

You’re listening to Overtime! In this episode, host Meg Lewis and today’s co-host Rogie King talk about a new design tool, Millennial rosy retrospection, and Amazon Dating. Plus, they dive into whether design titles and labels are harmful or helpful to your career.

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Meg: This week on Overtime, a new mobile design tool called Play gets launched and people have opinions. We talk designing based on memory and ordering a date on Amazon, plus our thoughts on tooling around with design tools and “can titles hold you back or help you thrive?”

Hi, hello, hiya, babies. This is Overtime, Dribbble’s weekly podcast that explores the most interesting design news and gives you the tips you need to create your best work. I’m your host Meg –

Rogie: The flibbertigibbet –

Meg: Lewis. And today we’ve got a good one because I am, IRL, sitting across from a person who will be speaking to you. It’s designer, illustrator, and generally everything person, my buddy, Rogie King. Hi, Rogie.

Rogie: Hi, it’s me. Also, you may know me as “Rogue-y” from other conversations. But in fact, I’m pronounced Rogie, like Roger but cuter.

Meg: “I’m pronounced Rogie.” Yeah. What’s it like having a name that people are constantly mispronouncing?

Rogie: You learn to just let it all go. It’s super fun. You can play with it. I also give everybody else nicknames. They’re horrible too.

Meg: I tend to call you Rogert a lot.

Rogie: Rogert. And I’m cool with next to anything, nearly unoffendable with nicknames.

Meg: Great.

Rogie: Yeah.

Meg: I feel the same way. I like a nickname. It means somebody cares. And they’re close to you, and they like to have fun with you.

Rogie: Yeah, I think that, in general, like if people rib you and have fun with you, that means they like you and they feel comfortable around you.

Meg: Alright, let’s get into the news this week. So, the first thing I want to talk about is something that you brought my attention to because I’m not on product design Twitter anymore. I used to be a UI designer, and that felt like so long ago, and now I’m not. Now I’m a visual designer, which I’m okay with. This isn’t a sore subject for me, don’t worry. But you told me about a new design tool called Play, which is very interesting. I checked it out. We can’t use it today, there’s a waitlist or something. But what Play is, is it’s a mobile design tool, right? That helps you to design web apps and apps using your phone. Is that correct?

Rogie: Yeah, I haven’t dived too much in but it definitely seems like it’s hinting at using your phone to create websites and apps, which is such an interesting thought. I think we’ve always been sort of steeped in desktop land for all of our design creations and just sort of like the constraints. And the minimalizing of your UI, like there’s so many interesting things that you can do, lots more to say. But yes, yes.

Meg: Is mobile-first still thing?

Rogie: Oh, I think it’s absolutely still a thing.

Meg: Okay, that’s not a thing from the past?

Rogie: No, I think that’s within, especially like the web design world, like, mobile-first. Just because you can layer on your style sheets and things like that later, but you start with the device that you assume that people will be using, most often. So yeah, I think it is.

Meg: So, this would be great to allow people to do that.

Rogie: Yeah. And I think that the way that people are designing right now, like design is changing rapidly, not only with tools like Framer or Figma, or things, not only like, when we talk about Figma, we’re talking about collaborative design. That’s completely different. Framer, this sort idea of like, push button, design, boom, app on the other end. That’s changing everything. But I think that also, Play is probably playing in the space of Instagram and Snapchat. Like, we don’t think about them as design apps. But I think they’re totally design apps. Designing your stories, putting in graphics, all in a very, like, sort of natural way.

Meg: Absolutely. So, I remember, so this is my visual design direction point of view on a similar tool. Like, years ago, Squarespace came out with some sort of logo design tool, where you could just come on Squarespace logos and make your own logo. And I remember feeling a little apprehensive at first because I was like, “Well, now no one will hire me because they’ll just make their own logos.” And I think that, especially with something like {lay where it seems like it turns out the code as well, I’m sure there’s like an argument that could be had, a fear-based argument, where people would think like, “Oh, no, this is actually scary because it means that anybody with a smartphone could then do my job for me.” But is that a cynical point of view?

Rogie: I think it is. I think it is a cynical point of view. I don’t think that we should be upset about these sorts of things coming in. I think people that are creating more, sort of artisanal and well thought out solutions, those are going to be for a certain pay bracket of clients. And I think that things like a logo maker work out really, really well for somebody that’s just starting out.

Meg: Totally. So, do you think that Play is something that a novice could use potentially? Or do you think this is something that a seasoned product designer would be using?

Rogie: Oh, totally a novice. But that is my perception just by watching the ad. It seems like a design tool in an iPhone seems like it’s just very accessible, on the go. You can do this with your pinch and zoom and all this stuff. It does not seem seasoned designer, but I can be totally wrong. I don’t know enough about it.

Meg: Yeah, we’ll see. And we’ll talk about that a little bit more about design tooling later. But I also want to talk about this other story, which is the story of a candy called Opal Fruits. Now, okay, so in the UK, there used to be a candy called Opal Fruits that Mars made, and they eventually ended up releasing it as Starburst in other countries. And then they eventually just called it Starburst and got rid of Opal Fruits. And it was like, 20 years ago that Opal Fruits was last seen. And so, I guess they decided to bring back Opal Fruits and the design team had to basically look at and find past images of what Opal Fruits’ branding and packaging looks like. And it ended up being true that they use their memories of the feeling that Opal Fruits gave them when they were kids or younger and designing based on their memory and the nostalgic view of what Opal Fruits was. And that’s how they ended up sort of bringing back the brand in a fresh new way. And I think that that’s so fascinating to me because I love the idea of nostalgia and the kind of vision that it gives us. I think about this a lot when it comes to retro diners, and I know we’ve talked about this before –

Rogie: A lot. A lot.

Meg: Because I love retro diners so much but every time I go to a retro diner, it never feels like I wanted to because, in my head, a retro diner feels and looks different than they actually do.

Rogie: So, isn’t that an actual psychological principle called Rosy retrospection? Like you tend to look back and you sort of fluff up these things in a more warm light than you used to, than they actually are. Yeah, which is cool.

Meg: Totally. And I think that’s a fun design exercise of trying to take something that you look at and visualize so fondly and so warmly with nostalgia and try to bring in fresh new perspective on that.

Rogie: What did you call them? Opal… teens? I forgot what you called them.

Meg: You’re making Opal-tine.

Rogie: Because it’s a retro thing!

Meg: You’re mixing – it’s Opal Fruits. You’re combining that with Ovaltine, I think is what’s happening.

Rogie: So, they’re actually wanting to bring it back?

Meg: Yes, they did. They did.

Rogie: So why do that instead of just like, they know Starburst has built brand. Like, why not ride that energy? Are they doing something separate?

Meg: Yeah, I think so. I think what it, and I don’t know this for sure, but I think that specifically millennials, that generation, is known for being a nostalgia generation. And so, I think you see that a lot right now where people are bringing back old things from the 80s and the 90s, maybe early 2000s as well, of the things that have been gone for 20 years, or they’ve been dormant for that long, where we’re bringing them back. So, I think that, and I’m sure this is happening in other areas, there’s a resurgence of something that had long since –

Rogie: Like we’re seeing it now, kind of 70s type styles.

Meg: Totally.

Rogie: We’re seeing that in a big way.

Meg: Yeah!

Rogie: But it’s all cyclical. This all happens over and over again. We’re going to get like, 80s fashion back.

Meg: Absolutely.

Rogie: Yeah.

Meg: Yes.

Rogie: So, I don’t know what we’re supposed to say. But that’s awesome.

Meg: I think it’s cool. I think it’s cool. And I think it’s a fun – I think it’s an exciting opportunity for me to think about whenever I am designing things, of thinking about “What did I feel like when I was first adjusting this thing that I’m trying to design for? And how is that different from me as an adult as a 30 plus year old person?” Everything feels just dull and boring now. I’m numb inside. So, what did it feel like when I was a kid looking at these designs and these colors and these brands? And how can I bring a little bit of that energy back into it?

Rogie: Yeah, so I definitely love nostalgia play for sure. I love the feelings that I felt when I look at old Disney movies and sort of the rinkie-dink, what do they call it? The Honky Tonk kind of piano stuff, like Ragtime music, all of that stuff. Even my website now, which is just a very simple website, is just trying to kind of get back some of that, and not live in the too-polished, shiny web anymore. It’s like trying to get back some of those feelings, any way that you can kind of spark joy would be great.

Icon design is really interesting in that you really need to find that metaphor that connects with the broadest range of people. And it may be your save “floppy disk icon.” And a lot of people say, “That’s an outdated technology.” But, the real question about icon design is, “Is it still communicating in the greatest way to the most people what a save metaphor is?” And if it is, then you can still get back to nostalgia.

Meg: Right. Yes, that’s very important. And that’s what I think that they dug into nostalgia to do. So, for our last news story today: did you see Amazon dating?

Rogie: I actually just literally thought it was a joke where people plugged in images on a product page.

Meg: It took me a long time to figure out exactly was going on and I’m still not 100% sure. But, for those of you who don’t know, I think it’s still up today. It seems like Amazon will take it down at any point.

Rogie: Is it actually from Amazon?

Meg: No. So, Amazon dating is from Ani Acopian and Suzy Shinn, two artists, two creatives that made this just as a funny side project. It’s a total joke, but it’s a dating parody site that looks exactly like Amazon, except people can upload their information and create a profile. So, you can go on there and look – it looks like you could shop for people and –

Rogie: Wait, how further down does this rabbit hole go? Can you literally connect with people or are these dead ends?

Meg: I don’t think so. I think – I don’t know, I think it’s a dead end. But I think it’s just a funny thing.

Rogie: I would just love to see if there’s like a prime, like one day meet this person. It’s like, can you ship them to me?

Meg: Yeah, so some of them are available via prime delivery. You can select them by their love language. So, when you’re on the product image of the person, you can instead of choosing like, gray or black or blue, you can choose love language, which I think is really sweet.

Rogie: I think that’s really cool.

Meg: Yeah. I mean, okay, yes, the critique here would be that it’s objectifying. It’s like the definition of making humans into objects.

Rogie: Like you literally can cart this person. Yes. I think once again, if you have a cynical perspective, then yeah, but like, realize where it’s coming from. It’s literally play. It’s fun. It’s play. Like, we need more of this. I want to encourage more of that. Like, that’s awesome.

Meg: I like goofy nonsensical projects that brighten people’s day, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Rogie: Right. And this is, this is like a new form of this. Like, instead of doing this in a print medium, you’re doing it in a website in such an interesting way. I would love it if you can actually post real reviews and those reviews can be read because I feel like people are so funny, a lot of people so much more than me, I would love to see what those reviews would be because I think that’s kind of half the fun in this.

Meg: I completely agree. I’d love to write a review of you.

Rogie: I love that project. I didn’t actually know that it was – I thought it was a mock, I thought it was real, I don’t know. I didn’t see very much of it.

Meg: It just looks so accurate. It looks exactly like Amazon.

Rogie: Yeah, they probably just downloaded stylesheets. Boom, and they’re back.

Meg: Absolutely. I have no idea. I don’t know how anybody does anything that they do. But yes, that sounds like a great guess.

Rogie: Oh, with technology and stuff? Yeah, okay, perfect. That’s exactly what they did.

Meg: Alright, so let’s talk about, let’s deep dive into design tooling, because I think you have a lot to say about it. I am a person who is a designer, who works in design tools all day long as part of my job. I do love them. They’re important to my work. But you now work at Figma as a designer advocate. And first of all, before we talk about design tooling, I would like for you to explain to me what a designer advocate is.

Rogie: I’m certainly still learning. But Claire, my lead, has told me that I’ve been doing this my whole life and like, just breathe and understand that you know exactly what you’re doing, which is very empowering.

I would just say like, a designer advocate, my job right now, and I’m going to be learning hopefully, like, this is a brand-new position, I’ve been a product designer, illustrator and all this full time for a very long time. And now I’m this: designer advocate. But my job is to listen to you as the designer. It’s to, especially with regards to Figma, to say, open my ears and say, “What are you struggling with?” I need to learn how to ask more questions and stop gabbing so much. So, I need to say, “How are you using this tool? What can we do to make this tool better? Where are your pain points?

But my job will also be to do, just sort of generally hyping, showing people the cool things. Because honestly, I did join this team because I, I’m just gonna say it, we can edit it out, but I fucking love Figma. I do. I’m super nerdy in my heart. I graduated from college with a double major in math and computer science, and so I wrote a lot of really interesting code around design tooling when I was in college and using fractal geometry and all sorts of mathematics and stuff within code. So, it really spoke to me. And I think that Figma’s doing design tools in a new way and thinking about it in a new way. And they have a lot of really interesting ways of attacking the same problems that we’ve had over and over. So, I’m also there because I really want to show people like the little secret tips and things. So, you’ll be seeing these coming up. But yes, long answer, that’s kind of what I do.

Meg: That’s incredible. It’s very exciting for me that you have a job that is so fulfilling of who you are and what you can offer. And I wish so badly that everyone could find that for themselves, to find a company that just supports and loves them for who they are and wants to bring their magic into their brand.

It definitely seems like a trend in design tools right now is collaboration and that stuff that you’re naturally working on with other people. Because I truly do believe, as much as I isolate myself, I do believe that together we can make things, like, if I brought you in, we could obviously make something that my brain would never be capable of making. It could be so much bigger than just myself. And do you think that that’s why that trend is happening? Or is it just simply to make teamwork styles, like team collaboration easier?

Rogie: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I think there’s multiple answers to that. Personally, I left freelance because I can only accomplish so much alone. And I believe that I don’t think highly of my designs. I think, like, I’m okay. But I think that together, we’re better. So that’s kind of why I joined teams. That’s where I’ve started, like, I started working for Dribbble, and I work for Figma because I believe that we can do more together, they’ll help sharpen me, they’ll help, you know, my designs, or my ideas be better, and they’ll point out things that are not within my, that I’m blindsided to.

So, I don’t know, maybe we’re growing up, you know, maybe we’re, as an industry that is now social and online and seeing each other’s stuff in different ways. You know, we’re not in the print design days, we’re way beyond that. So, maybe part of it is that we’re just, we see other peoples’ work and see that we can be better with them. I think with regards specifically to Figma, I think that the collaboration with that tool, we’re definitely, there’s a lot of parts of this. Like one is we’re bringing in copywriters right now because it’s a live sort of, like you put the link out there, everything is current, live, single source of truth kind of stuff. And I think that copywriters are now in there, you don’t mess around with the copyright documents, your PM’s are in there. We’ve got all kinds of eyes on this to help, like, flush out any of the issues with it. So, I think that Figma, in this way, is leading the way. And I think that it’s making it much, much better, like even using Figma at Dribbble, I think it made for a much better process. So, the tools themselves are helping us, it’s kind of pulling us along and teaching us this.

Meg: That totally makes sense. And it’s really cool that like, I guess you’re technically here doing your job because you’re advocating for designers, but I think they’ve created a job, basically, that’s just for you, that it’s made perfectly for you. I think that really made me think a lot about titles. And I think titles and labels go hand in hand. Like, for some people, especially when it comes to design, illustration, whatever, whatever we’re doing, the title that we’re giving, the job title that we’re given, whether it’s self-prescribed or given to us by somebody else, I think it can be empowering and help you to fit into a box and help you to give you purpose and know what you’re doing. And other times I think it can hold you back from experimenting and bringing in new things. So, do you feel like, as you’ve gotten older and as you’ve progressed in your career –

Rogie: Are you saying I’m aging? Oh God, you’re saying I’m aging.

Meg: We’re all dying.

Rogie: Okay. Okay, hello.

Meg: Sorry.

Rogie: Thank you.

Meg: But do you think that now shutting away this very specific, because I think from what I can tell, I think that you’ve had a lot of different titles like you can fit yourself in just so many different boxes.

Rogie: Yeah, I think part of it comes with a couple of things. With a curious mind, I’ve just dabbled in a lot of things. I’m very passionate about art and all this stuff and code, and I started in code and taught myself design. So, I’m a part of all these things. So, curiosity is one of them. But also, I think being a freelancer, often you have to, like, it’s advantageous to you, at a small scale, to be able to like, “Oh, could you code this design too? Oh, that’s great. Like, we’ll just work with you.” So, it comes from that a bit.

But yes, absolutely agree. Like, lots of different titles. To that, though, I will say like, I think the titles can be pretty restricting and I think, I keep thinking about this idea of like, I don’t want to be a web designer. I don’t want to be a designer all. I kind of just want to be like, because I’ve been on the other side of the pond where, like, I’m a developer and I’m super nerdy and into it. I love it. I love it. And so, I don’t think there ought to be, like I love blending lines. And I don’t think there ought to be, like, for instance, a lot of my best friends are girls like, not little girls, but women typically. But of course, my daughter is.

Meg: I’m thankful.

Rogie: Definitely. Yeah, me too. But my daughter is definitely a close friend of mine. But like, I grew up in a world where you know, boys weren’t supposed to be friends with girls. And I like blurring those lines to be like, “Your best friend can be a girl and it’s okay – a woman. I’m going keep going back to that. So, I really love blurring lines and I love taking away binaries. I love taking away black and whites because I grew up in a very black and white world and I’m seeing the world in a very colored way. And so, I want to blend lines.

I don’t think there ought to be developers per se and designers, like I love the idea of just calling myself a builder or a digital builder or something like that. I haven’t quite found where I want to land with creation and craft, but something along the lines, like that sounds good. But also, the designer advocate thing too, really is a pretty broad term too. Like I’m trying to advocate for designers for a tool. Like that could mean a lot of things.

Meg: Sure can.

Rogie: That could be exciting people, it could be doing games. So literally, some of my challenges, like coming up with cool games to do at conferences to let people get back to that childlike state of play, as opposed to design this button, which is not as playful. Like, I want to play and let people mess around with the tool in weird ways.

Meg: Yes. And for me, I don’t like labels at all. I think they’re very restricting for me.

Rogie: I would be with you.

Meg: Because I’m a complicated person. I’m like every other person. There are so many things that make up who I am and so many interests that I have. And as soon as you slap a label on me, it makes me feel like I can’t move, and I have this huge boundary.

Rogie: You’re constricted now, yeah.

Meg: And so, once I’ve started to shed away the labels, it’s really helped me to expand my world and I also end up somewhere far off in the distance, way in a different direction than I ever thought I could, because I don’t have this pre described label. And I think that’s really helpful. But I also understand for a lot of people, labels can be so empowering, and titles can be empowering because they feel so excited to be tied to that identity. So, I get it. And I think that it should be. Totally. I would love to live in a world where that’s a personal preference of if you’d like to have a title or a label prescribed to you.

Rogie: I would love it if like you could tell your lead like, “I feel like this is constricting and can we give me,” and certainly this is probably happening out there, like, “Can I get a new label? Can we re-engineer something for me?” I would love that. But for you, do you think that? What was the label that you had? And like, what is the label that you, do you have a label? Do you give yourself one?

Meg: Great question. Well, I bounced around from so many labels. I used to be a web designer, and then I was a UI designer. And then I was a logo designer and then I was a brand designer.

Rogie: I can’t imagine Meg as a UI designer, I’m sorry.

Meg: Right? I know some people still who knew me from like 2012, 2013, who still are like, “Are you still designing products?” And that’s just blowing my mind because it seems like so long ago. But that’s what I mostly did when I was living in New York working at tech companies. I designed a lot of products and being stuck in that label was very constricting for me. And then I moved on to brand design and I was a logo and brand designer. And then I was dabbling in iconography. And so now –

Rogie: And now it’s illustration, right?

Meg: Yeah, now I do illustration. Now I do fine art. Now I do comedy.

Rogie: Wait, what do you do for fine art?

Meg: Like, murals and stuff.

Rogie: Whoa, oh okay.

Meg: Which I never thought, and like a lot of that has, you know, it’s buried in imposter syndrome, right? Because I’m not a fine artist. I’ve never taken an art class. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to paint. And so, when somebody said, “Meg, please paint this mural.” I was like, “Absolutely not. I’m not an artist. This is not who I am.” And they said, “Of course, you can. You can design this you can paint it, you’ll figure it out.” And of course, I did. And I can. And I mean, I can do anything, I can be any label if I want to be.

Rogie: And I think some of this is steeped in that sort of binary culture. Two words. It’s like, I’m like, and I felt this on my own end, my own imposter syndrome coming along, is, I’m a digital artist, like I do things digitally. Like I could never be a painter, I could never transfer something to a wall and paint it, at least sort of that’s the voice in my head that I slay every day and say, “Fuck you, you won’t exist.” But yeah, I totally think that the more we can rip down those walls and those definitions, the more we can freely flow into all these things.

Meg: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.

Meg: Thank you so much, Rogie. That’s it for this week’s episode of Overtime. Let’s continue the conversation on the internet with the #DribbbleOvertime. And you know what to do if you love the episode. Let us know by leaving us a review, subscribe, blah, blah, blah. And don’t forget to tweet or tag me Meg Lewis on the internet. I’m @Darngooood with four “O’s” you know it. And my bud Rogie is @Rogie, which we know is R-O-G-I-E.

Rogie: Roger but cuter.

Meg: Roger but cuter. Rogie, do you have anything you’d like to promote?

Rogie: Ooh, I’m not really into promotion. Yeah, I would like to promote –

Meg: Pease just say something that you love that you’d like to promote.

Rogie: I would absolutely like to promote some of my favorite things in the world, and while I have this grand stage, Beecher’s Cheese is amazing. Go to Costco, get it. It costs like 10 times this, but go buy it. It’s white cheese. It’s in a triangle. Get it. I would also like to promote Tabasco Scorpion sauce. I am not a sponsor, nor are they sponsoring me, but it’s amazing. It’s got the right kick. It’s got a little bit of zest. It’s also not opinionated as a sauce. I think that it blends well with a lot of things. And lastly, I would like to promote the horror movie, The Babadook. You’re probably sorry that you asked me to promote things.

Rogie: You’re just going to keep going.

Rogie: Yeah, I think I’m done now. I’m getting those awesome eyes from Meg that are saying, “Good. We’re good on the promotion.”

Meg: Well, I have a design thing to promote.

Rogie: Sorry, I took up all the promotion spots.

Meg: Coming up later this month, I will be in Gainesville, Florida. I’m so excited. I’ve heard about this place called the swamp. I think it’s a restaurant. I don’t know. I’ll be there with Tad Carpenter. What a good boy he is. I’ll be giving a talk on February 22 through AIGA Gainesville, which is where the tickets are on their website. But Rogie, it’s been a delight. Thank you for being here.

Rogie: It’s been a delight. Always follow @TurdCrapenter.

Meg: That’s right.

Rogie: It’s his alias. Another account. It’s when he’s angry.

Meg: Twitter.

Rogie: Please.

Meg: @TurdCrapenter. Give it a follow.

Rogie: Bye.

Meg: Talk to you next week.