Evolution is essential in the new world of work, especially in a field like Visual Design that’s changing so rapidly. Design is taking on new forms every day, driven forward by intrepid creatives like Filterati Jason Reynolds. This Visual Designer and nature photographer is on an ongoing quest to expand his knowledge and skills, with the ultimate goal of using his work to change the world for the better.

These days you can find Jason working on high-impact design initiatives at Microsoft, taking classes in front end development, raising awareness for environmental causes, and exploring the great outdoors with his camera in hand. In this interview, Jason discusses the ties between creativity and coding, the need for greater inclusion in the design industry, and why it’s always the time go after what’s calling you (make sure to check out Jason’s Instagram to follow his adventures through the Pacific Northwest and beyond).

Q: Between designing at Microsoft, taking programming classes and launching a new photography project, this is a busy year for you. What are the biggest goals you’re setting out to accomplish?

I’ve actually got three goals this year! One is to successfully learn front end development — HTML, CSS, JavaScript and libraries like Jquery and AngularJS — in a way that allows me to realistically apply them to real world scenarios. I think prototyping would be a good area to utilize both my design background and programming. Fully functioning previews for stakeholders to look at and play with would be both challenging and fun to build.

My second goal would be to develop and hone my skills for design research at Microsoft in a way that could make a positive impact. I really enjoy helping people, and my new role might allow me to do that. It will require a lot of dedication on my part, but if I can make it happen, it might mean a more fulfilling future for myself and others. That’s something that’s very important to me.

Lastly, I want to utilize my photography for charity work that’s focused on environmentally friendly causes. I’ve recently launched a project called Rogue Photo, where I sell prints of my photographs to raise awareness and funds for The Natural Resources Defense Council. This project combines my love for photography and my passion for environmental conservation, and I’m very excited to move forward with it.

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Jason Reynolds

Filterati and Visual Designer Jason Reynolds is working on high-impact design initiatives at Microsoft. Need help in this area? Let's talk. 

 

Q: Is your design perspective changing as you learn more about front end development?

It’s become increasingly clear to me over the years that being a creative person also means that you can think logically about how coding and programming translate into a design language. The structure of a webpage, its functionality and the user experience are all as equally as important as the content and design itself.

One fluid, fully-functioning piece of layout in PS that becomes a beautiful piece of programmed code is really a thing of beauty. And seeing the system work as a whole, while watching it develop from a simple PSD file to a living document on the web, really enlightens your understanding of design from a bigger-picture perspective.

Q: How would you like to see the design industry evolve in the coming years?

I’d love to see it become more inclusive. I think there’s a really big divide between people who do production-level design and people who do conceptual development. Most of these designers have to work together in one way or another, but the those who work on the production side aren’t always given much of a voice. They often feel like they’re kept in the dark.

I think this can make production designers feel less passionate about their jobs, less included in the big picture and less important overall. In reality they’re incredibly important, but I think that’s not usually what’s communicated within the top-down structure of most companies. I really think that needs to change.

Q: Tell us a bit about your nature photography and its relationship to your design career.

While there are definitely common themes in my design work and photography, in general I try to keep my professional life and photography life fairly separate. A lot of people ask me why I don’t shoot professionally as often or why I don’t try to “be” photographer. To me, photography is my creative outlet to simultaneously drool over how amazing nature and capture the memories in the process.

Q: What advice do you have for balancing a successful career and an off-the-clock passion?

You’ve definitely got to learn to work to live. A lot of people get tied up in their jobs and making money, but you only grow richer through the experiences you have. Generally, I waste no time in getting out and exploring on a weekly basis. Even if weather looks bad, I’ll usually go try to do something outdoorsy — with my camera too, of course.

Life is too short to worry about putting something awesome off until later, whether it’s big or small. When you commit to having fun and enjoying yourself no matter what, you’ll always find a way to be happy.

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