Alex Shirazi, Founder and Managing Director at Phlint, Inc
Alex is the founder and managing director at Phlint, Inc., a digital creative agency working with software and UX design methodologies since 2006. Alex is also the host of the Cultured Meat and Future Food Podcast, where he uses science communication to link tech investors to the world of agriculture. Alex studied advertising and design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Alex, please share some memorable moments you remember about the early days of your design journey
I studied creative advertising in school and I remember researching case studies from big-name agencies running campaigns for big brands. A few years into my career, I started working with some of these same big brands.
Shortly after, I started seeing my projects on store shelves and billboards. It was at this moment that I thought: Wow, I helped make that happen. It was a very inspirational moment.
How did your position towards design change over the years and where are you looking for inspiration these days?
At every point in my career, I always thought about what kind of artistic elements motivate me the most. I don't have a background in painting, but sometimes picking up a paintbrush and spending some time with a canvas can really open up your creative expression as a designer – for any type of designer. This, and, of course, Dribbble.
Which soft/hard skill helped you the most through the years professionally?
Building communities. And finding motivation in people.
When I first started working in Silicon Valley, I would attend as many Meetup groups as possible. On every topic. I learned about robotics, hardware, business, networking.
I started volunteering for these groups and eventually started my own Meetup group and have been creating a community around design-related topics. If you can build a community around your interests, opportunities and career growth will be a natural side effect.
If you feel stuck in the same area, how do you empower yourself for new challenges? How often do you change the whole scene?
What I have noticed is that throughout my career, I have changed focus areas or topics quite a bit. And it’s ok.
However, there has always been a consistent flow between each topic. For example, from Housewares to Retail to Consumer Electronics, there has always been a nice flow. Even though there have been changes, there's also been one thing that has always been consistent across all my projects: Branding. The importance of brand and branding has touched everything I've ever worked on.
From your entrepreneur/designer position, which skill would you call crucial for designers who want to succeed in the industry?
I think the most important thing for a designer is to make sure you carry the momentum. On several occasions, we would skyrocket to these huge projects, and for one reason or another, we would find ourselves back at square one.
However, since we had the experience and portfolio under our belt, we were able to get back on top much faster. It is vital to make sure you can gain momentum too.
Written by Serafima Aleksandrova