If you ever have a conversation with Ryan there is a good chance that at some point he will ask you ‘why?’ Growing up, he took apart and put back together many things just to understand how they were built. He has an annoying tendency to research in detail everything he buys to make sure that he isn’t making the wrong choice, and ended up buying a fixer upper Mid Century Modern house because he watched too much HGTV and figured that it couldn’t be that hard to renovate it into a home worthy of a spread in Dwell. He was wrong.
This constant search for understanding the things around him is what led to working in the field of User Experience. A combination of physical and digital product design experience at Nokia and Microsoft Game Studios along with an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts in San Francisco led Ryan to the role of VP of User Experience at Engine Digital.
It is here that he finds new ways to apply existing and unconventional approaches to interaction, function and content to define and influence the strategy of businesses that are integrating digital in completely new ways.
How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is about finding an unexpected solution to a problem with constraints not directly under your control.
Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
A big part of my work is understanding what people are doing, and more importantly why they are doing it that way. I have been fortunate that my work has taken me to many countries around the world and while this typically involves having interesting conversations with people doing cool stuff, I actually find a lot of inspiration in observing how people perform pretty mundane, everyday things differently from country to country and what they have come up with to make it easier for them to do these things.
What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Do. Then once you think you’ve got the hang of it, do more. Discovery happens in the midst of action.
Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
A computer. Seriously. Like in Her. How cool and creepy would that be? I bet her perspective as to why people do what they do would be fascinating.
What keeps you awake at night?
Getting too comfortable. It’s one thing to feel proficient and confident in what you are doing, but to me, if you start to become satisfied and settle into being comfortable you have become complacent and are not making progress. When I start to feel that way I know it’s time to change things up and try something new.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Soon after getting married, my wife and I went to Mexico. As part of this trip we thought it would be interesting to catch a bull fight, but what ended up happening was me being volunteered to step into the ring to fight a small bull, matador outfit, cape and all. It was probably the longest two minutes of my life, dodging a few hundred pounds of charging bull, but I escaped getting flipped on my head like two of the other three ‘matadors’ and best of all ended up taking the grand prize of a t-shirt and bottle of tequila!