We plan to put five questions to each of the WXG (www.wxg.co.uk) conference's speakers to give you a look into their talks, histories and what inspires them to do what they do. Today we begin with Laura Kalbag, a designer specialising in design for the web. Why did you agree to speak at WXG?
I attended the first WXG. It was lovely to go to a conference with such a great combination of design and development talks, and so close to my hometown, Reigate. This year I get to experience the conference from the speaking side, and have an excuse to visit my parents.
What do you think delegates will get out of your talk?
I want to explore what design as a process really is, and what motivates designers to work as they do. I’ll explore this by sharing my learning process and all the mistakes I’ve made! I’m hoping that attendees will walk away with a better idea of how the brain of a designer works; how we research, find inspiration and become better at designing.
How did you get into designing for the web?
When I was at school, I always wanted to be a graphic product designer, I loved the idea of creating products for other people. When I was 16 I started making simple websites and found I was really a lot more interested in digital design. Through art college and university, I continued studying Graphic Communication but specialised in digital design and interactive design, whilst teaching myself web development on the side. When I graduated I decided to brave it as a freelancer. Five years later and I haven't looked back.
Who is your inspiration in the industry?
My inspiration is the web community. It was their openness, sharing, and the way they encouraged newcomers that made me want to be a part of the industry. There are so many people whose work has inspired me (and continues to inspire!) and helped me learn when I was starting out: Molly Holzschlag, Rachel Andrew, Dan Cederholm and Andy Clarke, among many others.
Nowadays I get most of my inspiration from the motivations people have behind their work, and those who work to make life better for other people. My boyfriend, Aral Balkan, is working to help people own, and gain control over, their own data, promoting civil liberties in technology with Indie Phone. It’s pretty inspiring to live and work alongside someone who believes so strongly in making the world a better place.
What advice would you give to someone new to the industry?
Involve yourself in the web community as much as possible. Talking about your work with other people is the quickest way to level up. Through learning from others in the community, you get a better idea of what skills are required and where to find the best learning resources. Through sharing with others you gain an in-depth understanding of how you work, benefit from the input of others, and help push the web forward.