Everything has a beginning. Mine as a designer started over 10 years ago. In 2003 I was at my second year of college studying architecture, I actually liked it and thought I would become an architect. I knew very little about design and digital back then, computer for me was a way to access Napster and download music. I've done maybe 2 websites by then just for fun using Microsoft FrontPage and didn't think it was a real job.
I clearly remember a day that year when I saw Wacom tablet on the internet. I could not believe there was a device that looks like a pen and everything you draw appears on the screen. I just knew I needed one. I started working really hard on random jobs to save up some money so I can buy one; and I even remember a summer day when my friend picked me up from school and drove me to that place near the bridge in Tallinn, the only place that was selling Wacom products in Estonia back then. I saved up enough money to afford the smallest tablet Wacom had in Intuos2 series.
I spent nights drawing in Photoshop with my new tablet. I would draw random illustrations with "deep" teenage meanings and put it online. That's how I ended up with my first "portfolio".
In the summer of 2003 I was volunteering somewhere in Europe and my friend from school Alex called me up. He said that he got a job at this Finnish company doing mobile entertainment as a designer and showed them my illustrations. The guys running an office in Tallinn, Estonia wanted to meet me and possibly offer a job to draw illustrations full time.
It had nothing to do with the quality nor my illustrations were good. But I was excited as it was my first full time job and I was actually paid to draw completely random stuff there. The company called Jippii. With headquarters in Helsinki, Finland and offices around the world (including Tallinn, Estonia) they offered different things for your mobile phone. Mostly ringtones, wallpaper images and some games.
Every day I would go to college and after all the lessons were done; take a bus and go to another part of town with my Wacom into the office where I stayed usually very late. Every week I would get an Excel sheet with a quote on how many images I need produce and different holidays around the world. Say there was a St Valentines day, so I had to draw about 40 images with hearts, flowers, chicks etc and then export each image in 50 different sizes and ratios that were supported by mobile devices existing at that time (Nokia had 128 by 128 pixels, Siemens had 174 by something else pixels and 50 more). Then this picture would appear online on Jippii's portal and "TV guide type" magazines with code associated with it, so people can send a text massage with the code to a certain number and this image will come to their phone with the ability to become a wallpaper. Yay!
After a while I got more responsibilities. Apart of weekly batches with random images I had to produce I started doing magazine layouts in FireWorks with all the popular ringtones and wallpaper images people were able to buy for their phones. Then I was brought into doing web pages for their portal with the same content. And that's when I learned how to actually put together layouts for web and more importantly to work fast and have a responsibility for a delivery.
Once I messed up with a code number. There was a week when one of the top 3 ringtones was a sound of Tarzan screaming (Tarzan call). A week later at the exact same spot the promoted ring tone was Soviet Union's anthem. So I removed an illustration of Tarzan I drew a week before and replaced it with a Soviet Union flag, but forgot to update the code associated with the new ringtone. So everyone in Russia who bought Soviet Union anthem ringtone by sending a code number over text message would get a Tarzan screaming over to their phones. I almost got fired for that.
Well what I was trying to say with all of the above is that I think the point of time when I bought my first Wacom was a beginning of what I am still doing now.
Years later in 2008 I was living and working in Stockholm, Sweden at Fi. Wacom came to our door with a small project. With a very small team we did a Wacom Bamboo app that was shipped with all the Wacom Bamboo tablets. I was doing UX and design, Hakim who actually now works at SquareSpace was doing all the front end interactions and Firdosh, who also still works at Fi, was building the whole thing from a developer stand point. For me, as a designer, it was a dream project.
And finally last year (2012) right before Christmas Fi engaged with Wacom on redesigning their global site and I was working on this amazing project from day one with the client who's brand I really admire. I got a chance to work on redesign of the site with the amazing team at Fi, spend some time working in Wacom's Tokyo office, visit Wacom factory in Japan and see how their products are made. And finally not only got to meet Wacom's CEO Yamada-san but to film him and produce videos for the site.
Read more about the project on Fi's blog here.
Here I probably would love to say thank you to absolutely everyone who was involved in this project in one way or the other, from Fi and outside of Fi.