Meet the Designer: Maciej Karolczak
From his homebase of Poznán, Poland, Maciej Karolczak works in the technology branch of Pearson English, creating e-learning platforms and producing materials for teaching English. When he’s not shaping the future of global education, he’s developing his own designer skill set with projects that combine his personal passions with his desire to experiment with—and master—new creative tools. “I have most fun working on the last stage of product creation: the design,” he says. “Transforming all the previous work on research, analysis, and inspiration into an actual product is the cherry on the cake for me.” We emailed with Maciej about why customization is the future of UX, the seamlessness of a Creative Cloud workflow, and translating the mysteries of the universe into an app.
What drew you to UX/UI design, and how did you get your start?
As a teenager, I watched lots of movies and TV shows, and read comic books; even then, I was paying particular attention to their visual layers, and wondering how they were created. Eventually, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in design, so I read a lot about what it’s really about (i.e. typography, color, UX, and print). Those early years were more about learning everything design-related and improving my skills. I knew that the more I learned, the better my designs would be, so before I worked out my personal style, I tried to follow the best in the business.
Though I tried not to focus on online products only, my first work was creating some web designs, and occasionally something print-related; I got these small orders by sending my portfolio out to different companies.
How does Adobe Creative Cloud fit into your creative process?
I’ve been using Adobe Creative Cloud for six years, and for every project, I often use several programs at once. For a webpage, I’ll Photoshop to create the main interface elements, and Illustrator to create and edit icons. InDesign is my go-to tool for typesetting—posters, brochures, books, folders—and it’s great for materials where I want to have more control over typography. I have great hopes for Adobe XD, which has fulfilled a gap in Adobe’s software in the UI/UX area. It’s a must for any UX/UI designer creating web designs in Adobe Creative Cloud.
Let’s look at one of your projects. What was your process creatingSolis 8—an educational app to teach the history of the Solar System, and keep up with astronomical news.
I’m truly fascinated with the universe, and had been thinking about creating some kind of project related to it for a while; when Adobe XD launched, I thought it would be a great opportunity to test it out. (Up to that point, I had been comfortable using Photoshop for my work, but was looking for more specialized tools dedicated to speed and precision in creating complex interfaces.)
Solis 8 allowed me to learn more about Adobe XD and figure out a workflow, and my initial experience was very positive. Despite being in beta, it proved to be quick and stable, and I didn’t need a number of tools to build a reasonably good design. And since it has an import functionality for photos and vector graphics, I had no problems supporting my design work using Illustrator. I loved the keyboard shortcut set used in Photoshop, so I felt at home after just 20 minutes.
What excites you most about the future of UX/UI design—both in terms of creating it, and engaging with it?
I believe that in the future, UX systems will be tailored to users’ specific needs during any time, in any place. This means that UX designers will pay even more attention to product personalization; the challenge will be creating interfaces that respond to the context of the user’s actions that go beyond the framework of the screens of our computers and smartphones.
What bit(s) of wisdom can you share with creative folks who are interested in becoming UX/UI designers?
I think the most important bit is to be persistent in the pursuit of your goals and to never give up in the face of difficulties. It’s important to learn from the best and to always develop your skills and knowledge. The best things mostly come from hard work. And obviously, don’t ever forget to keep some balance between the professional life and your own time.
Whose UX/UI work do you look at and go: “WOW”?
That’s a hard question. There are many designers creating great designs both UI- and UX-wise. I think I’m currently most impressed with Alexander Laguta, who’s doing very modern and neat work. The way he plays with space and typography is amazing.
Best tunes for getting into a creative flow?
Hey designers: We’d love to feature you next! Share your prototypes on Behance for the chance to be featured in Adobe XD’s Meet the Designer series. Don’t forget to tag them with #MadeWithAdobeXD and select Adobe Experience Design under “Tools Used.”