Freelance Product Designer


MilanVuckovic (Freelance Product Designer)

An interactive designer based in Belgrade, focused mainly on everything digital. He’s a huge type nerd and a fan of minimal, clean and simple design and a human after all.

Belgrade, Serbia • August 31, 2018

What led you into design?

I got interested in design as a kid, browsing all of the science and computer magazines my neighbor had which were full of cool illustrations and imagery, but I got really hooked on design during high school. The school had a computer class which taught programming and basics of graphic design, but I was far more interested in the visual aspect of it. Luckily, my teacher recognized that and pushed me into that direction, so I started doing posters, graphics and other artwork and even some experiments with photography.

Right before my last year in high school, I injured my neck in an accident. The doctors told me that I’m not gonna be able to move anything from the neck down. I went into rehab and basically lived inside a gym, determined to get everything back as it was. After a year and a half, I realized that I hit the roof of improvement and that I’m gonna be paraplegic. That sparked a three-year-long depression during which I haven’t done anything.

My high school professor saw that and pushed me to finish the final year of high school and go to university, so going back to design made me feel normal and useful again. It made me realize that my life is not over and that I can still be productive. Design made me happy again and still does to this day.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m lucky to have an opportunity to work remote and being in a space that I’ve set up according to my needs and preferences means a lot to me.

On a usual day, I wake up around 8:00 and exercise a bit to get myself going. After, I grab something to eat and get a cup of tea. I start my work at around 9:00 and use those first hours to catch up with my team and sorting my daily tasks, then fire up some music or podcast and zone out into designing. I love music and it’s really important in my life, so I probably couldn’t design without it. Recently I got hooked into listening audio books while I work, so that helps too.

Around 14:00 I grab my lunch delivery from a local restaurant/shop and use that time for a mini-reset of my mind. After lunch I sometimes try to schedule a meeting if needed or do some quick emails, then get back to work. By around 18:00 I’m usually done with work for the day and then slow down and unwind a bit. I sometimes do some personal side project stuff right after while I’m still in the zone.

What’s your setup?

Having a simple, but useful setup is crucial to me. I rarely get something new as I’m more of an “if it works, no need to change it” type of person. I like to keep my table clean and organized as much as possible.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I curated my own Tumblr where I post stuff I gathered from all around, so I mainly go there to get my mind going. There’s no real sorting system as I like the chaos of art it creates. It helps me that there’s a variety of stuff and everything’s pretty random, so I’m not focused on only one genre and/or medium.

If I’m really really stuck, I step away from the computer and just do literally anything else for a short period of time. It helps me break the thinking process and refresh my mind.

Recently I stumbled upon a podcast called Dissect which focuses on dissecting music albums and artists. Season 3 just started and the subject of this season is Frank Ocean as an artist and his album “Blonde”, so I recommend it wholeheartedly. Cole Cuchna really knows his shit. I also read a book called “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach at least 4-5 times per year. It’s a short, but super inspirational book that I recommend to anyone.

As for online stuff, I frequently browse through SiteInspire, Typewolf, Sites We Like, Savee It, Beautiful Stores, La Blacklist and Product Hunt.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Recently I had a trip to Vienna and during a subway trip, my girlfriend told me about an app called HUJI. It’s a neat little app which edits your photos randomly, but you always get an awesome result. It’s perfect for when you’re lazy to edit the photos you took. The interface is a bit simple and there are not many options available as you can only turn light effects on/off and tweak some things, but for real, the output is always on point.

As for the physical product, I purchased a Anker Soundcore Mini 2 and so far, I’m really happy with it. I never owned Anker products before, but the build quality is pretty solid. For the size of a large snowball, the Bluetooth speaker has a serious bass sound output. Highs and mids are also clean and crispy. I can’t recommend this speaker enough.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I did some of my best work so far all under NDAs, so I can’t show a large portion of my work. It is what it is though.

That being said, I designed the website for Ole Mathiesen during my employment with the previous studio. Knowing very little about watches and watchmaking prior to the project, I was very happy going through the process of learning all the intricate details and how much craftsmanship is required to build a solid timepiece. I ran through a couple of directions and versions before landing on the current one; the project kicked my butt and I loved every second of it.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

In order to do great work, one of the things you need to master is having a relationship with the people you communicate with. That applies to both the clients and your coworkers. Mastering the art of listening to people and understanding the needs and requirements of the project in question is crucial.

Every project I’ve worked on came within a certain time frame, so you need to learn to recognize fast what it is that you need to do in order to meet the goals of the project. That’s something that I’m still studying and figuring out gradually, improving with every new project.

Also, it’s a bit sad, but my greatest design-ish challenge might be my disability. I am somewhat limited by it (like f.e. looking about every single detail regarding accessibility during traveling, not being able to work in office etc.), but I’ve learned to just adjust and adapt to the challenges and push through. Recently I’ve been seeing a bit of improvement as far as understanding of how designers with disabilities and people in general work, but there’s still a lot to be done in that domain. And I mean a lot.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Start from the basics. Read up about typefaces, grids (baseline and every other out there), color theory, layouts, compositions, the rhythm of elements, usability and accessibility etc. If you master those, everything else will come gradually.

Reach out to your heroes and peers. I used to have a severe social anxiety (which sometimes still kicks in) and stayed as far as possible out of my design community, but a few years ago it just dawned on me that all those people you look up to are as human as you are. They all have similar experiences as you and are probably looking to connect. If you do decide to contact them, respect their time and effort and ask what you wanna ask. Don’t ask for favors though, nobody likes that right off the bat. There’s also a possibility that they won’t respond on Twitter, so don’t get discouraged.

Listen carefully to what the people you’re talking to are saying and let the people speak. If they begin telling you something, do not interrupt them. Pay close attention and you’ll probably find everything you need in a single, short meeting.

Take notes and write things down. Note down every idea you have about a certain solution or an approach to it. If it’s not working for the current project, it’s still something you can explore later on your own and maybe even apply it in an evolved state onto something else.

Also, try learning to code. My biggest regret is not learning to code early on when I started designing and I’m trying to fix that by signing up to a SuperHi course. So far, I’ve learned a ton and I’m really happy with it. It also helps that folks behind it are amazing people in general.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I’m always looking to have a chat about potential projects to jam on and connect, so if you wanna drop me a note or just chat, hit me up on Twitter. ✌️