“Start from where you are, use what you have, experiment in order to grow” via Marius Ciuchete, Web Designer

In today’s interview, we’re talking with Marius Ciuchete – a romanian web-designer settled in Vancouver, Canada. Marius’s Instagram account says “I’m Marius. I design remarkable digital experiences. Let’s have a chat! ☕️” So, we did!

1. Could you tell us briefly about your background? How did you get started in web design and for how long have you been doing it?

Born and raised in Romania, traveler, coffee aficionado. I wanted to become an architect, then an airline pilot, but I settled with recreational flying (sad wink). I came across web design in the early 2000, freelancing for different companies around the world. I was initially working as a graphic designer in advertising, but I was blindly attracted by the web’s potential.

So I started designing everything in Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Fireworks 2, occasionally coding my own websites. One thing led to another and, few years later,  I made the choice to focus on design solely and do my best in this field. And here I am 17 years later, with a Webby Award in my portfolio, still waking up with the same excitement to design websites and apps for my clients.

2. How do you keep your ideas fresh?

It depends. If I start bigger projects, I usually seek inspiration from print. Indigo’s Chapters used to be a good place to seek inspiration, but recently I began looking for any kind of magazine that sells a good combination between imagery and stories. Dribbble, Behance and Awwwards serve greatly as inspiration, as long as I don’t let them influence me. 🙂

In most occasions, though, I find it hard to get inspired sitting in front of a screen. And that’s when activities like martial arts, swimming, hiking or flying come in handy. I get the best ideas when my mind is free.

3. What type of projects do you enjoy working on the most?

Without a doubt, web concepts. These are my first true love.  I do enjoy designing apps, product decks or getting myself involved in branding work, but nothing compares with the feeling I have when I explore ideas for  the web.

4. What are the trends that you think will continue to influence web-design?

This year has definitely brought a higher focus on designing for content delivery, customization and conversion.  Which is great. Asymmetry versus standard organization, and thinner and rather large typography will probably still rule for a while.

Custom made illustrations will continue to play an important role in defining cleaner layouts. And we’ll be using bright colors or even gradients a lot more, along with videos and images that overlap with one another.

5. Could you recommend two or more resources for the creatives that are reading our blog? (books, blogs, websites)

I would start with Awwwards – this is one of my favorite stops where creativity gets perfectly executed, where I see beautiful new ideas brought to life by amazing teams of designers and developers. Definitely Freelance.tv by Dann Petty. I have tremendous respect for Dann as a designer and as an influencer in this industry and I find his initiative to be one of the most beautiful motivational crafts ever.

Abduzeedo is one of my oldest favs for inspiration. They highlight everything from photography to digital design to architecture. And as any creative knows, a variety of inspiration can stimulate whole new ways of approaching problems. As online magazines, I’d recommend Interface Lovers for their interviews and mixes and Designmodo for the informative material for designers and web developers. Oh, and definitely Smashing Magazine 🙂

There are few podcasts that I’d like to mention, as well:

6. What’s the best advice you’ve heard lately?

“Start from where you are, use what you have, experiment in order to grow”. Words by a very dear friend of mine. Very true when you put them into real situations.

To that, I would add “Live a life you can enjoy”. Can’t remember where I first heard that but most probably, in one of the podcasts above.

7. How do you describe yourself as a creative?

Being “creative” requires ideas that are original and valuable.  And to accomplish that, I stay true to this process: Emphasize -> Brainstorm -> Prototype -> Test -> Iterate.

I always start with understanding what problem I’m trying to solve and why that’s a problem in the first place. As a creative, I put a lot of value on research.

So often times, you’ll find me at my desk analyzing ideas, crayoning possible concepts, exploring solutions on paper before committing to a high-fidelity wireframe. This process always helps me convey my ideas quickly. Also, 80% of my paper wireframes never make it to the screen.

As a creative, I strongly believe that exploration makes a design perfect. The alternative is creating an art piece that looks pretty but accomplishes absolutely nothing.

8. How does a day in your life look like?

Because I work remotely, my schedule is different almost every day.

Sometimes my day starts with a healthy breakfast and a swimming or a gym session. Then I’ll grab a coffee with a friend followed by few client calls and after that I’m off to my design tasks!

Other days it’s just breakfast followed by client meetings and work. My brain never stops, I’m always thinking of new ideas or better layouts. I work a lot, but never after 5:30 PM.

Then begins my time with my family. But if there’s a lot of work to be done, I’ll jump back on it when everyone goes to sleep. Mixing freelancing with the time I want to spend with my family is pretty tough. So it’s important for me to remind myself to allow time for recreational activities and quality time spent with my loved ones. Freelancers need to learn how to take advantage of the flexibility the freelancing life offers.

9. What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career and which are your struggles when it comes to the job you have now?

At the beginning… it was the personal branding. I wasn’t focusing enough on creating a personal brand, I wasn’t marketing myself to a specific niche. I was mostly aiming on getting my hands on as many projects as possible. I was always putting money before anything else and I was nowhere near working on building serious relationships. It was very hard to move forward.

Luckily, I realized I was on the wrong path (I might have had some help with that) and got myself on the right track. Which helped a lot, business wise. It allowed me to create a long list of returning clients that, in time, brought a growth to the business.

Today, my main struggle is the focus. As a freelancer, I am the Chief X Officer, the Project Manager, the business guy, the accountant and the designer. It’s though and makes it rather hard to stay focused on the design solutions. But nevertheless, I love what I do and I truly believe it’s all worth it.

 

Now, that we got to know Marius a little bit, let’s check out some of his designs.

 

 

 

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