In our latest Timeout video, we sit down with San Francisco-based designer Tymn Armstrong. He shares his approach to problem-solving and how he taps into creative energy. Tymn also shares what it’s like to go out on your own as a freelancer and what it’s like working for a design giant like Dropbox.
How would you describe your work?
I started out as a graphic designer. As I got older became more and more interested in other areas of design like photography or writing or web, UX, interior design. And they’re all different types of design with different challenges that I think they all boil down to problem-solving. That’s what’s most interesting to me and really about connecting with people. Because at the end of the day, the people are impacted by our design choices.
What does Design mean to you?
Design is a philosophy of life. Kind of an approach to living. It’s almost about curation in a way. I like to surround myself with things that are well designed because I feel like they’re created with more intention and created more for people to enjoy. So yeah, it’s really design is more of a way of life for me.
What impact has Dribbble had on you?
In order to do the type of design work that I wanted to do, I had to go out on my own. So for the first time in my life I had to freelance and around that same time Dribbble that had just started and there were two benefits of that: one—it definitely increased the exposure of my work but two—it gave me the ability to collaborate with people that I respected and designers that I really admired in real time. People were sharing sketches and like would share multiple rounds of iterations on a design and get feedback in the comments from people, from their peers. And that was very very helpful because it felt like I was working on an extended team of designers and really good designers.
When are you most productive?
I like to work with my hands. If I start away from the computer and then like whether it’s just drawing or sketching or even sometimes cooking does that for me. I feel like I do my most productive work when I get into a state of flow, which is like the optimal state that you enter when like work just seems to be like flowing at ease and you don’t really have to think about it and time passes like really quickly. We’re all kind of primed to enter that state when conditions are optimal. Some people like to listen to music to get into that state or they have to work alone or some people have to work in a really loud environment like a cafe. At Dropbox, we talk a lot about that and we talk a lot about creative energy. What we mean by it is the energy that is required to generate ideas and solve problems and think in inventive ways. Whether you’re an artist working on a painting or a scientist working on finding a cure or a volunteer at a non-profit, like working on trying to promote a cause everybody needs to think creatively in order to solve those problems.
Design is more of an approach in thinking to any given problem. It can inform every aspect of your life.