PRODUCT DESIGNER AT FACEBOOK - PODCASTS HOST At Spec.
If you haven't met Brian Lovin yet, you're missing something in your life. Not only is he the nicest guy but he is incredibly funny and talented. His skills and personality led him to Facebook where he can play with pixels all day long as a Product Designer.
Designer by day and podcast host by night, Brian is full of resources and has a brilliant future in front of him.
Fun facts about Brian:
- He knows how to throw amazing pool parties.
- He is really tall and that makes him a really good teammate during our basketball game.
- His dog, Taco, is the cutest dog ever!
Can you describe the path that led you to design?
This whole design thing started about 8 years ago when I was a sophomore in high school - I was just discovering the social side of the internet (blogs, forums and such) and through some random course of internet digging I started to follow web development blogs. There was this fascinating thing called View Source, now replaced by its more mature cousin Inspect Element, which totally blew my mind back then. Looking at how web pages worked and data flowed felt like having access to a sort of infinite canvas.
Around that time I started a blog called Elite by Design and wrote a handful Photoshop tutorials, list posts (sorry, internet), and interviewed designers who I admired. This blog really set the hook for finding the things I was interested in. It also made me intensely interested in building for the web, which led to things like building and selling WordPress themes, learning HTML/CSS and a bit of programming, etc. Those were really intense, formative years in terms of just building this base of knowledge about how the internet worked.
By college I was starting up a few other random blogs here and there - mostly music related, but a couple other design/development blogs too. Through this whole process I just kept trying to learn new things about marketing, building audiences, writing, SEO, building tools, coding, and on and on.
But times change, and by early 2015 I had started a podcast with Bryn Jackson (who was also featured here!) called Design Details. The podcast eventually helped connect the dots that resulted in a job offer from Facebook - and here we are!
"It's the best time to be a designer, too - there are so many smart, creative people out there itching to build things with you if you just ask nicely."
You recently joined Facebook as a Product Designer. Congratulations! Can you share a little bit of this experience with us?
Thanks! Facebook has been awesome so far. I joined on July 20th and the last few months have flown by - the people I work with are wicked smart and I feel so lucky to be able to pick their brains and just hang out after work. I ended up joining the payments team, specifically helping send money with Messenger. It's a US-only feature which means we don't have the same constraints as most FB products, and it's also young enough that we have a lot of room to explore.
The biggest change for me coming from Buffer is not working remotely and being in the office environment. I used to work from home or coffee shops most days, which was really fun - but over time it could start to get lonely and feel somewhat isolated. At Buffer everyone worked remotely and we met up 2-3 times per year as a company. This offered everyone so much freedom to live anywhere in the world, but it meant that it took a lot more energy to collaborate and communicate.
Jumping to Facebook definitely means giving up some of that freedom of remote work. But so far it's been pretty amazing to sit next to other designers and engineers who are all building towards the same goals. It makes collaboration and decision making really fast and productive, which feels great.
One of the other aspects of Facebook that I'm still trying to wrap my head around is that we don't have the constraints of being a startup anymore. There's a lot of possibilities when size/technical/financial constraints have been bulldozed out of the way, so I'm really working hard to expand my thinking.
Anyways, I always like to meet up with anyone who is interested for lunch on campus - so if you're reading this and want to come see Facebook and say hi, just hit me up!
Would you say that designing is your dream job?
Designing has been a dream job, yes. I feel very lucky to have found something I really love to do so early on - this all started when I was 15, and ever since then it's only become more fascinating; I don't see this energy slowing down anytime soon. It's the best time to be a designer, too - there are so many smart, creative people out there itching to build things with you if you just ask nicely.
The Design Details podcast and Spec Network have been an awesome secondary outlet to get exposed to new ideas and meet lots of great people as well. Bryn and I are really fortunate to be in this place and it's all because the design community is so open to sharing their stories. Hopefully we'll be doing this for a long time to come.
Do you have another super secret passion?
I'm a total music curation nerd. I've built a few music websites since college, the first one called The Kollection started in 2010 and Mvsic in 2014. Both of these were just playgrounds to find and share the coolest new music that is coming out. I really love following new artists and watching them grow.
When The Kollection was still a thing, we were super lucky to get enough traffic that we could go to shows and meet some of my favorites artists. At one point I was lucky enough to interview Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, 3LAU, Hoodie Allen, Big Gigantic and a few others. We even threw a live concert at my college with Schwayze and Cisco Adler! Those were really fun times, and although the sites are dead now I'm still having fun curating playlists on Spotify.
Who was your favorite superhero/villain growing up? Why?
Master Yoda! I grew up watching all the Star Wars movies and just remember how epic of a character Yoda is. He's one of the most powerful Jedi Masters but he has a quiet wisdom behind every action. And yes, I can't wait for the new Star Wars this winter!
I also remember spending a lot of time reading about inventors and builders when I was a kid - people like Ford, Einstein, Edison, etc. It always struck me that they were "normal people" and there wasn't anything superhuman about them. That's been a good reminder over the years whenever I feel like quitting: success is a function of persistence.
You know that Batman has his Batcave and Superman his Fortress of Solitude. What's your favorite place/environment to do what you love?
I mean, I could technically call my apartment the Batcave, right?
In terms of environment though: anywhere with lots of natural light and music. That's why I love Facebook's campus so much – there's tons of natural light and nooks to explore; it's also cool to get outside on the roof whenever I'm stuck on a problem. I also have an eternal struggle of finding my most creative strides late at night (midnight-2am), but also wanting to wake up early. And that's why coffee exists!
Do you have a favorite object, like a lucky charm or something that really matters to you?
I started a daily journal over two years ago. I haven't missed a day yet - so far I've filled up 10+ notebooks. They aren't necessarily my favorite object or a lucky charm, but they represent the last two years of memories and major life events. If I ever need to, I can jump back to a specific date and place and see what was going on or how I was feeling. For someone with really poor long-term memory, this is really awesome and I recommend the process to anyone who cares about things like this.
What superpower do you wish you had and why?
I've been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to never have to sleep, eat or drink. Part of me is fascinated by possibly unlocking 40-50% more productive waking hours for the rest of my life. On the other hand, that would also eliminate 40-50% of life's Good Stuff™.
So instead, I'll say teleportation. That would be a game changer to be anywhere instantly - no more traffic! Over the last few years I've been trying to optimize-away or eliminate small time drains. But all that wouldn't matter if we could just kill the big sinkholes of time: driving, flying, walking, etc.
What is your personal Kryptonite?
Sugar. I've tried to get off of that glucose kick for years. Sometimes I can last a few weeks, but it's always calling me back...*sips soda*
Who would you choose as a sidekick to fulfill your passion for design in the real life. Why?
A robot or AI of some sort would be too great. I imagine a robot could remove all the little things like figuring out math, alignments, grids, etc. It'd be cool to have all of that abstracted away in order to focus on the real products and problems and research. Also, the robot could triage all my emails. And it could attend all my meetings. But now I'm just dreaming...
Basically I just need the future to get here a bit sooner, I think all of this will happen.
What is your definition of a modern hero?
My dog, Taco, is basically a hero. He never gets mad. He's super chill. And he's really low maintenance, unlike most humans. He's basically my best bud. Does this count?
Seriously though: people who do good work, who stay humble, who are nice to everyone, who don't show off and just generally keep a level head about life. I want to hang out with more people like that.
Can you name 3 people who inspires you everyday? Your very own heroes.
I can't really think of three specific individuals, so I'll cheat: my parents, because they're the most unselfish, kind people I know; my friends, because they give me the appropriate amount of shit if I get too caught up with myself; and my co-workers for reminding me every day that I have a lot more to learn.
One more thing… Mask or Cape?
Why not both? Why not neither? Probably a mask though!