At Glug we’re always keen to bang the drum of creatives, makers, doers, tinkerers who do things a little differently. We’ve hence put together a series called “Glug Profiles” where we’ll be highlighting people from across the Glug world with different backgrounds and from all sorts of practices! To see more Glug Profiles, check out our news section.
Hi Al! How’s it going? You having a good week so far?
Hello there! Yeh, good so far, thanks. Busy as usual!
For those Gluggers who’ve never heard of you, who are you and what do you do?
Well, I’m Al Power, a product designer / illustrator from Dublin Ireland. Im working as a Senior Product Designer for Qstream, currently creating a design system and brand guidelines. Also in the middle of fleshing out a new illustrative style for the product. I’ve previously worked as lead designer for Ryanair and Paddy Power.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing now, then? Have you always dreamt of working in the creative industry, or what’s the back log here?
I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years so I’ve been around the block a couple of times. I‘ve loved art & design from an early age, although I probably wasn't great at it. That didn't stop me though. I never made it into any art colleges, therefore was forced into business college instead. Still with a passion for creativity, I meandered through various short design courses, taking up as many small design jobs as I could along the way. It was a pretty rocky road but in hindsight, I feel it’s really made me appreciate how lucky I am to be involved in the design industry.
What do you get up to when you’re not working? Got any exciting side hustles or passions to tell us about?
Ah I’ve always got something on the side going on. My day job is as a product designer, so I like to spend my evenings and weekends trying to upskill in other creative areas as much as possible.
Recently I’ve been leaning very heavily on illustration. My first introduction to the area was while at Ryanair, when we decided that illustrations could be a good differentiator to set us apart from our competitors. So we set out creating a set of 30 European landmarks to be used across the site. They were probably the first collection of illustrations I ever created, so was a pretty strange introduction into the area, 100 million people seeing my first ever illustrations!
From there I’ve really jumped into illustrating with both feet and am constantly giving myself challenges that keep me on my toes as much as possible. I find it really rewarding opening up a blank canvas in illustrator and creating. Im currently in a bit of a Dublin landmarks phase, and have been doing all sorts of random illustrations of famous areas around the city.
On a gloomy, totally uninspiring and day, where everything just feels like an obstacle — what do you usually resort to in order to get your inspiration back on track again?
I spend a lot of time on the likes of Dribble or Behance for inspiration, obviously its a pretty generic response to such a question.
At a higher level, if I’m ever struggling to find an edge to what I'm working on, I tend to try give myself a bit of time, take a step back and stop trying to force the issue. I find a lot of the time you can over think certain obstacles. If your not feeling the project you’re working on, simply move onto something else for a little while and come back when you’re in a better mindset.
And on the opposite end — where do you usually find your inspiration in the work that you do either in your dream job or as a side hustle?
From a product design perspective, there are a lot of constraints in what I work on. It’s my job to create consistency across the product so studying and learning from how other design teams and their design systems is always something that interests me.
Creating a design system, can often be pretty heavy though, so I try to let loose when I'm in my down time by taking on random projects that I wouldn't usually get a chance to work on in my day job.
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Im not sure where the inspiration comes from really, something may catch my eye and it will sit in the back of my mind niggling me until I have some spare time to drag it out of my head kicking and screaming. and plat it onto a blank canvas in illustrator.
Some recent illustration projects include, a kids A to Z book, a collection of Dublin landmarks, classic cars or a collection of Georgian Doors from around Dublin. Pretty random but it keeps me interested, and helps me learn. I’ve only been illustrating for a few years so Im still trying figuring things out.
You can see all of my random illustration projects here: https://www.behance.net/AlPower
Ok, so let’s get a bit dreamy, shall we? If you were to swap job with someone else in the creative industry, who would this be and why?
Ah, there are so many ridiculously talented people out there it would be so difficult to choose. I really love the work that Meg Robichaud is doing at Shopify. She was brought in to focus on the new illustrative style for the platform and think she has done an amazing job so far. She has really defined a new style for Shopify that is spot for the brand. Its been great to see it all develop.
I love seeing how certain brands have leaned on illustrations so heavily as an extension of their brand. Companies such as Dropbox, Shopify, Intercom and Mixpanel to name a few have identified illustrations as a key differentiator for their branding and have really invested to create a unique style that is reflected across their offerings.
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And… If you were given the opportunity to move anywhere without having to apply for any visa what-so-ever and we’d sort the packing for you — where would you go?
There was a time that I’d probably love this, I’d of picked San Francisco, New York or somewhere hot and far away, but I’ve got a very young family now, and they mean everything to me. I’m in a really good place with everything at the minute so I wouldn't change it for the world. Dublin is good enough for me!
Ok, and last but not least! Please give a link shout-out to 5 pieces of inspirational, or just plainly awesome, work that you’ve stumbled upon recently…
https://www.behance.net/gallery/55091949/Shopify-Empty-States Touching on one of my earlier comments about Shopify, here’s an example of some of their work they’ve be producing. Also, here is an amazingly detailed article around their tedious process to getting the style to a level they feel reflects their direction: https://ux.shopify.com/empty-states-more-like-you-have-no-idea-how-much-work-goes-into-those-states-amirite-e0102f58b64e
https://ueno.co/work - A pretty obvious choice, but these guys are doing some amazing work. They’ve started to do up case studies on recent projects too so definitely worth checking out.
https://www.highresolution.design/ If you haven't checked any of these podcasts I highly recommend them. They’ve got some really inspiring people on there so totally worth a listen!
https://atlassian.design/ Atlassian recently updated their design system and I love how they’ve structured it. Everything is so accessible, and all must be so valuable to everyone their product team. From the outside, it really gives the impression that its a company who know what they are doing.
https://www.behance.net/gallery/53980217/Famous-Brands-Logo-Animations Something a little lighter, I found this project on bechance to be really entertaining…
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