Dewey Reid, Digital Design Director at CNN, talks about digital design insights.
So the digital design industry is really changing fast. I mean so fast it’s super hard to keep up with. Most of the students that are coming out of school or just – or just coming into the industry – they know a variety of skills. They know basically how to do digital design, they know Photoshop, they know a new product called Sketch which is actually kind of taking over the marketplace right now. They know code so they know front end code. They’re good with HTML 5 and CSS. Then they’re also just very aware of all platforms. And when I talk about platforms I talk about platforms like Facebook and Snap Chat and it’s not platforms like Microsoft and things like that. These are media distribution methods. Those are the hardest things to keep on top of because you have a lot of devices in your pockets and you’re constantly trying to learn things and it’s really an amazing thing.
So there’s a lot of different industries that use those skills. There’s journalism which is what I’m in right now, there is just technology which is just building apps and things like that, there is software development and that’s design for software development. There’s not as much of at as there used to be. There’s the game industry which is really obviously taking over everything as far as the amount of money they make and also the amount of time spent there. Then there’s the social networks, those are all very big. I mean the industry is growing really fast and the interesting thing about it is is I went from being in television to going to technology and when I went from being a television director to going into technology all of a sudden I was an artist that worked for engineers. Which was kind of a weird change in my career but it’s changed in the last three years.
Since Steve Jobs has made design so important I always say now design is the new black. So all the designers are getting big jobs and we are under demand, are hard to find good designers, so there’s a lot of work in this area. Especially for somebody that has a great aesthetic sense. And understand, all these things that I’m saying that you need to know, you can learn all these things. You can learn them online and you can learn them in school and you can learn them a lot of different ways. But having a great aesthetic value is going to be the main skill that you need to have. And what I mean by that is that you know how to make anything beautiful. So making something beautiful is having an eye for wonderful photography, having a really good color sense, having a great compositional sense. And you can take classes in these things. You don’t have to have degrees in these things. There’s classes all over in art.
Learning to draw is a really good thing because that helps you with composition and it helps you with understanding value. Value helps you understand color. Color helps you understand how to pick a great photograph. And also layout. So there’s all these little – these are all traditional design and art skills. I mean when I started out with my wife in this industry we painted with brushes and airbrushes and we did watercolors and we hand drew everything. And right up until the movie Roger Rabbit where we hand drew everything in Roger Rabbit, the next movie after that was all digital. I mean we really got a really great opportunity because we lived half of our lives in the analog world and half of our lives in the digital world. So where you guys grew up with all the tools is that we have real appreciation for these tools because we don’t have to clean brushes anymore and we don’t have to clean up after ourselves.
If you go to school now when you get out of school it’ll be all different. I think school is really great for learning basics and learning different things but I think you – most of your learning has to be about learning. You need to love to learn and you need to love to be online and learn. That is huge. I mean some of the people that I work with – I mean we are constantly sending each other – we have this program we use right now called Slack and it’s pretty new and we’re constantly sending articles to each other in different ways of learning things. And so everybody is in a constant mode of learning. I would have to say that every day I’m picking up some sort of new plug-in or a new piece of code or a new something or other that I’m looking at and going, hmmm, is this going to be real?
When I first started in this industry I used to look at new things and I’d say, okay, if they’re still around six months I’ll do them. Now I can’t tell you what’s going to happen next week because people are in their garages inventing the most amazing stuff and – I can’t predict the future anymore. I mean obviously we all know screens are going to go flat and we’re going to have implants and we’re going to have 3-D everything, but when it really comes to the really innovative stuff, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean Oculus Rift is cool but I’ve also went into a 3-D dome that was with 4 6K projectors and it was seamed together and it’s like they redid all the golf courses of the world. The famous golf courses. And it’s like being there. It’s so much like being there it’s amazing. The guy who’s inventing that, actually he did the original Tron movie which is pretty interesting because he’s about 70 years old but he’s still out there innovating in really an amazing way.
So that’s the other thing about this industry is that there is no such thing as retirement. You’re just going to keep learning and doing and keep doing it and loving it. It’s so much fun to see your stuff – you know you guys today saw that they announced the Apple watch and they announced my work on the Apple watch which was really a great feeling. It was a really interesting time right between analog and digital. That is one of the most interesting things about my life is just the fact of moving from a completely analog world to a completely digital one.