Édouard Wautier — Alan
Product Designer based in Paris, after successfully launching 10 IoT products at Withings, Édouard is now health a …
When I was a kid, my uncle used to draw and paint designs and characters on walls and doors in our house. I used to sit there patiently and enjoy the process of colouring. So, I think I got my artistic instincts from him and became passionate about it in early childhood. My mom was equally enthusiastic about me creating art and would send me to different drawing events and competitions almost every weekend. I also attended drawing classes for most of my childhood. However, I had no clue that I could make a career out of it.
One day, while I was in school, my teacher told me that my drawing had been sent to the former president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I took that as a sign to pursue a degree in arts and design. I then got into an art college in Mumbai, where I drew tons of stills and learned about colour theory, textures, typography, layout and the history of art. I chose illustration as my main focus and later won the Gold Award for my final year campaign.
After graduation, I joined a creative agency and started my career as an art director.
I work remotely from Berlin, so my day starts at around 9:30 AM which includes making my own coffee and breakfast. By 10 AM, I'm all set to begin work from my kitchen table. If it’s a sunny day then I sit outside to get some sun before starting work, and then I focus on completing tasks that do not require input from other team members, such as sketching, illustrating, researching, or finishing up designs from the previous day. I have a written list in my notebook for tasks, ideas, follow-ups, and so on, which I use to begin my day. If we have an announcement or launch coming up, I start by gathering information to create marketing assets. Around 1 PM, my husband and I prepare a simple meal that doesn't take much time to prep and cook.
By 2-3 PM, our US team members have woken up and most of them have started their workday. We discuss projects, and processes, share feedback, collaborate, or continue with our respective tasks. I sometimes take a 30-minute power nap to regain my energy and focus after lunch, and then I start again with a chai. Because I work as an individual contributor, I usually don't have many meetings scheduled in my calendar. I communicate almost everything on Slack and join Around or Zoom for collaboration or design critiques. I typically finish work around 7 PM and then either work out at home or go for a walk before having a nice dinner. Later, I usually listen to some relaxing lofi music before falling asleep at around 1 AM.
I use our large kitchen table as a desk, placed next to a heater for warmth, and enjoy ample natural light from the large windows throughout the day.
It may sound cliché, but I get a lot of inspiration from nature. I absolutely love parks and beaches, and Berlin has some very nice, lush green parks with ponds. I enjoy sitting under tall trees with sun rays filtering through the leaves, casting shadows on the green grass. It looks magical every single time. Spending time in nature clears my head, which is important for me as an overthinker. So being in nature is both therapeutic and inspiring.
Aside from nature, I get inspiration from other creators, such as my husband and design trends on Twitter and Dribbble. Working on side projects also helps to maintain momentum. Recently, I bought fresh art materials like painting colours and linocut art and got an online course for ceramic modelling to stay engaged and to try something new.
I also love Ghibli movies. Everything about them is fantastic - the different styles, techniques, animation, and attention to detail. Each frame is awe-inspiring, with so much to learn from. My favourites are Spirited Away and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. I don't enjoy going to museums or art galleries, but I do enjoy seeing life-size installations as they fascinate me. I loved the London Natural History Museum for its four-and-a-half-tonne blue whale skeleton.
I'm amazed by Framer. I never thought I could create and launch my own portfolio website in just a few days. Framer has provided some amazing tutorials to get started with, and their large and helpful community is a great resource.
My first-ever portfolio website made in Framer is definitely a highlight for me. In late December, Stark was on holiday break for Christmas while Framer was running a contest with the last day being December 31st. I took this as a challenge and began working on my portfolio. It was a thrilling rollercoaster ride from designing a page in Figma to learning Framer, creating custom animations in AE, and using Lottie and ChatGPT for the first time.
And the hard work paid off! I was awarded the 2nd Prize in Framer's inaugural contest. People showed a lot of love for my portfolio, and it was even featured on several websites as an inspirational one-page design.
At Stark, we work a 4-day week, so it is important to stay on top of projects and deadlines. When I face a creative block, I search for inspiration online or take a short walk to break the monotony. We prioritise accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity, so as a brand designer, I try to stay mindful of these things in my work. It can include finding ways to represent the underrepresented groups in our illustrations and also consider things like contrast and complexity. Keeping consistency across mediums is key to maintaining the visual and brand identity. By using our brand guidelines and standards while creating fresh concepts and ideas, I try to reinforce the brand's values, messaging, and personality.
Don't hesitate to speak up and share your ideas with confidence. Work on storytelling to effectively sell your ideas. Remember that soft skills are as important as technical skills. Finally, trust your instincts and go with your gut feeling. It's usually right, but even if it's not, you'll end up learning something. These are all easier said than done, but they are valuable lessons that I wish I could have told my younger self.