Milan Moffatt lives in Brooklyn, NY and leads all things design at SuperHi — a global online community of creative people learning to code together. Previously, she was designing at a small agency in Brooklyn, and before that in Santiago, Chile eating alfajores and working with early stage startups.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? My childhood consisted of all things crafty: drawing, sculpting, making zines, sewing, scrapbooking…you name it. Like other internet-obsessed 90s kids, I later got really into blogs, customizing Neopets guilds and making Geocities sites. I made pixel art with Microsoft Paint and taught myself HTML and CSS with sites like Lissa Explains It All. I remember hanging out with my friends after school in 6th grade and we’d be on different computers in the same house, chatting to each other!
I was on yearbook staff throughout high school and that’s where I graduated to Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. I dreamt about working at a magazine like Nylon. I went on to study graphic design at Northeastern University in Boston. I used to lament over the fact that I didn’t go to a prestigious design school like RISD, but I now realize that where you study doesn’t matter as much as how driven you are to learn. I’m grateful for my college experience, because I had the opportunity to study Japanese, live abroad, and gain exposure to entrepreneurship that I’m sure I would not have gotten had I went to design school.
What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?
1. InVision’s newsletter, Designbetter.co and uxdesign.cc for my UX and product design fix.
2. siteInspire and Typewolf are my go-tos for the latest in web design and typography inspiration.
3. Design Systems by Alla Kholmatova. A great resource for those wanting to learn about design systems, especially for small startups.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the company that you work for. I’m a designer focusing on product, user experience and brand. I love learning new things, and I’m happiest when I’m doing a bit of everything. I joined the SuperHi team about seven months ago. We’re a remote team of six people working across three different time zones, so we’re used to communicating online and working asynchronously.
I’ve been amazed at how inspiring and talented our students are. Our supportive, fun community is what sets us apart from other ways to learn how to code, and everyone on the SuperHi team is always ready to help. I’m proud of SuperHi and our community, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for us.
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self? The college or university you go to doesn’t matter as much as the experiences you have. Study abroad, travel, explore different fields and mediums, and strive to learn new things. Your unique interests, passions and hard work will take you farther in life than a resume or who you are on paper, especially in the creative industries.
Side projects are a great way to explore your interests. I know a lot of people whose side projects turned into their full time job, and it’s no surprise you do your best work when you’re excited about what you’re doing.
Ask yourself “What am I passionate about? What’s something I love or think about all the time?”
Something I’ve been passionate about throughout my design career is typography, especially on the web. I recently started a curated Twitter account called Type Party where I share free and open source type, and I think it’s projects like this that stretch your creativity and keep you inspired.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? I think as technology advances exponentially, our roles and platforms we’re designing for will be transformed. We already see the lines blurred between the roles of designers and developers, and I think the skillsets of UX designers, visual designers, researchers, etc. will combine and those individual roles might disappear. VR and AR will change how we live our lives and designers will need to focus on how we interact with machines more than ever.
What do you think the design community could do more of to give back? As designer and someone in tech, I believe we are responsible for creating diverse, inclusive experiences that make peoples’ lives better. Hire and work with underrepresented people. Seek others’ perspectives and listen to people with experiences different from your own.
I also value transparency and honesty in the design community. Sharing your knowledge and experiences, especially if you’re in a higher role, can be a great way to give back and help other designers around you.