This week, our Toronto-based guest blogger, Dakarai Turner interviews Tolu Atkinson, for UX coffee chat.
In his own words, Tolu is a designer that is still growing with so much to learn in life. He’s curious about problem-solving and really impacting the world on a global scale. As someone who started as a UI designer, he’s grown over time to realize the true importance of UX as it’s the fundamentals and foundation to design.
Can you describe your journey towards the UX field? How did it start & where is it going?
I started when my friend/co-founder of Purple Dolphin (production agency) and I got to the point where we had an agency that helped people build online portfolios. People were really willing to pay for our services and the companies we worked with were successful. However, we found we were spending too much time on these projects outside of our value and we were getting burned out.
We realized at one point, this was a great learning experience but we needed to expand our knowledge and learn something that could allow us to utilize more skills. My friend started learning code and he exposed me to UX/UI design. He sent me a link, I checked it out and I started learning what it was through articles and YouTube videos. It was similar to what I was doing from a graphic design perspective, my love for photography and being a creative director and that’s when I realized I could do this.
I’m still new. I’m still curious. And I do have ambitions and dreams. I want to impact the world with a creative team on a global scale. As I grow within myself and my industry, I’m realizing my interests are more into productivity and mental health. Working for companies that boost performance and motivate people is where I want to end up.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced being largely self-taught?
One of the biggest hurdles was not being able to bounce ideas off of someone or receiving feedback from other designers and industry professionals. This was a huge challenge until I started networking more.
In your opinion, why do you think we aren’t seeing as many black men and women in tech as we could?
A few of the reasons can boil down to education, their foundation at home, and exposure. It’s going to grow and it is currently growing. It’s only a matter of time.
What is a key thing a recent UX grad can do to land their first job?
One of the biggest things is being competent in the process and your approach and understanding why you do certain things. When you change a colour palette for a logo and
someone asks you why, if you don’t really have an answer it’s a tale sign that you might not know what you’re doing or that you didn’t really think about the impact. You need to be confident in what you do and knowing why you do it.
What sort of advice would you give to black men and women interested in a career in UX that don’t see themselves represented in many companies?
If you don’t see yourself represented, you need to lead by example and break barriers. You can be an example for the other people behind you or coming up. Through that process, you’ll start to navigate and attract certain people in that same journey and build your network within the community.