Interview With Designer Extraordinaire — Liam McKay of Function

WeFunction - Web-Design and Development

Hey everyone! Today we have an interview with Liam McKay of Function – Web Design and Development. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Liam on multiple occasions both via his design blog and also via Twitter and I’m very happy Liam accepted the invitation for this interview! Hope you like it!

Jon: Hi Liam! First I’d like to thank you for taking the time for this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself, what you do and where you’re from?

Liam McKayLiam: I’m a 19 year old lad from a city in the middle of England called Coventry. I’ve recently set up a blog/design company called Function. My role there is basically to keep things running and run the design side of things. I’ve been designing for a few years but only started to look at is as a serious career about 2/3 years ago. I had a job as a Junior Web Designer for a local company, but recently decided I would give freelancing a try; And so far so good!

Jon: Some time ago you launched Function, a design blog and portfolio site (which kicks some serious asses in my opinion). Why did you decide to start a blog? And also, why have the blog on the homepage instead of say your portfolio or list of services?

Liam: Function was the beginning of me sort of “reinventing” myself, and my style. I’d got a little bored of designing the kind of sites I’d been making, while I didn’t think what I was making was bad, I just always wanted to push things further and experiment more, and function gave me sort of a place I could escape and just let loose. 

The reason I decided to run a blog is because I felt that it gave people a chance to get to know me better, and better understand the things which make me tick and the kind of things I like, something which doesn’t really come across in a portfolio site.

Jon: What are your goals with Function? How do you plan to use this website to attract clients?

Liam: My goal for the blog was really to give myself a voice in the design world, I wanted a way of networking with like-minded people and being able to showcase my work and sharing some of my inspirations. I’ve already met a lot of great people and some clients that I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk to otherwise.

I’m thankful for the design community for really getting behind me and my blog so soon, and in a short amount of time I’ve already had the pleasure of working with great people such as Danny Outlaw, Adii & Collis Ta’eed.

Jon: Did you study anything in particular like arts, design or programming? Or are you self-taught?

Liam: Most of what I know was self taught, it was never really my intention to be a web designer. I just started out playing around in Photoshop and soon found I could make some “great” (they were in my mind) Web Designs with it. As I wasn’t the best at school with things such as Maths and Science I knew that I wanted to be doing something practical for my job, and as the last year of school came and it was time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I decided that I would go on a Multimedia course at college.

We covered everything from video & audio production to typography and art, but it was the web design projects that I was most interested in, and that’s when I realized what I wanted to be. College was a great place for me to polish some of my techniques and of course get a qualification which would help me get a job doing what I now loved.

Jon: What are the tools you simply couldn’t live without? Whether it’s an image editing software or an accounting app, we wanna know :)

Liam: I like to keep things simple I don’t really use many tools; Photoshop & Firefox will usually get me through most days. But I really love the array of tools available on Zoho – Everything from spreadsheets, databases, Project management software to invoicing etc.

Jon: Do you find clients through your blog and/or you use job boards or classified ads websites?

Liam: Well most of the clients I’m working with at the moment are on a ongoing basis; so I’m quite busy getting repeat work from the few clients I have at the moment. I’m really happy to have got this regular flow of work sorted so early in my freelance life as it means I don’t need to worry too hard about finding clients too much at the moment. I still get emails coming in about new projects and I’m always happy to make time for new projects, but there seems to be enough for me to do at the moment without having to look elsewhere for additional work.

Jon: What would be your best tip(s) for someone who is just getting started?

Liam: Network! Building up a network of people who have similar interests to you is always a good tip to get you started. In the months before I launched I started to build a network, and build some interest in what I was doing just by showing some samples of work on my blog. Networking has brought some great opportunities my way and I’m sure it will continue to.

Jon: What internet personalities influence(d) you the most? Who would you say are your ‘idols‘?

Liam: I never really had any influences when getting into design, but the people who influenced me to start blogging and working freelance would be Danny Outlaw & Anthony Zinni – I’d never really followed a blog before until I started reading the blogs of these guys, I was impressed with what they were doing and saw that a blog was an ideal way for a designer to connect with other designers.

They really opened my eyes to the design world and as a result of reading these two blogs I soon discovered many more and was quite overwhelmed by just how many people blogged in the design world, but I think that’s a great thing as it means theres always something new to read, always something going on, always something to aspire to and push you as a designer.

Two people I really admire mainly for their entrepreneurial skill would be Adii & Collis Ta’eed. They really seem to have a great understanding of some great ways of using their skills to make money. My main goal is to build up a network of websites & products one day, but for now I’m over the moon at just having the opportunity to work with such great minds, and hope to learn a lot from working with them.

Jon: What’s in your Ipod? And if you don’t have one, why?

Liam: One band who take up a good % of the space on my iPhone is The Prodigy, they’ve always been played at my house since I was about 6 years old. I don’t think I’ll ever like a band as much as these guys. You really have to play it loud to appreciate just how good they are. I’m also a big Coldplay fan, and find their most recent album amazing to work to! (Seriously try it) I really get in the zone when I have that album playing.

Jon: Thanks a lot Liam for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview! It’s really appreciated! :)