Tyler Egeto‘s come a long way from the Prairies. The Foundation Visual Art & Design and Digital Design grad’s trajectory has taken him from, well, essentially flipping burgers in Saskatchewan to Vancouver, where he now works as a designer at visual communications and interactive design agency Mod7.
Tyler exemplifies an unsung part of the Digital Design curriculum – interactive design. So much more than just ‘design for coders’, it’s actually an incredibly broad, forward-thinking, and experimental stream that marries the technical and creative sides of design, with results that are often astonishing.
Tyler’s own final project,which you can see on his portfolio site, is an “alternative way” of displaying information, “where data changes visually over time and users interact with it.” It was work like this that made Tyler the Canadian UX Blog’s Design Student of the Month while he was still at VFS.
Earlier this month, Tyler spoke to a packed house of aspiring designers at our Digital Design Open House. But we wanted to dig even deeper and find out more about what got him to where he is.
Tyler, let’s start with the most open-ended question imaginable – your professional journey. What’s your origin story?
Before VFS, I hardly new what design was. I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I spent a large part of my time split between city life – if you can call Saskatoon city life – and being a farm kid, playing in wheat fields and herding cattle. Leaving high school, I was unsure about what I wanted to do career wise, so rather than enrolling in a post-secondary school, I entered the workforce.
After a few years of cooking in a restaurant, I decided to further my education, going back to school. That resulted in a rather short stint of university, at which point I realized I didn’t really want to do what I was studying. So I started looking around at other opportunities, and that is when I came across VFS. A little less than a year later, I moved out to Vancouver to participate in the Foundation Visual Art & Design program.
What drew you to Foundation? Did you have a strong idea of what you’d eventually be pursuing?
Foundation for me was the result of talking to the VFS advisors. Originally, I wanted to enroll in the 3D program, but while talking with them, they introduced me to the idea of taking the Foundation program first. This was suggested because prior to VFS I had no experience in the art and design field, so it was a great opportunity for me to be introduced to a wide variety of skills and form a strong base on which I could build from when I did take the 3D program. Luckily for me, I listened to their advice, because while taking the program, I realized that 3D was not the right field for me, but rather it was the design classes that I really enjoyed.
What can you say about the transition from Foundation to Digital Design?
The Foundation program definitely put me in a strong position to excel personally in the Digital Design program. Right from the start, I was presented with new challenges, but I always had my past experiences to go back to, and I could leverage that knowledge towards reaching new heights. I believe it played a big role in the success that I had in the Digital Design program.
You focus on the interactive design side of Digital Design – is that fair to say? To the layperson, it’s also definitely the more technical side. What draws you to that?
Yeah, I’d say that’s very true, and honestly, it’s not what I thought I would be doing. It’s kind of a strange field. From the outside, it does seem very technical, and even at times uncreative, but from the inside, you realize that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is an aspect to it that is hard to put in words, it’s sort of abstract, but lies in the realization that there really are no limitations. If you are a creative thinker, you can mold just about whatever you want. We work with very small, arguably simple, building blocks, but out of it we can create immensely complex things. That’s exciting. It’s not easy, but neither is print design. In fact, I’d argue that in many aspects this is easier. At any rate, I certainly enjoy the rush.
You’ve been quite active in the design community – your blog is a perfect example of this. You share ideas, solutions, experiments. You’ve contributed to the ‘˜conversation’. Why do you do it?
I do. Besides my blog, I am also a community administrator for the Papervision3D community – for those who don’t know, Papervision is the main reason we are now seeing interactive 3D experiences on the web – written a magazine article, answered countless emails, and am always willing to meet with people to discuss projects, whether that be digitally or in person.
I do this for many reasons. Partially, it’s just for the selfish enjoyment I get out of it, but also because I think it’s really important. Not just for my career – all these things are great networking opportunities – but also because it’s the community I’ve chosen to be a part of, and I want to have some say in what it is going to be.
Jobs! What have you been up to since graduating from VFS? What kind of work are you doing at Mod7?
I was very fortunate during my time at VFS to be introduced to Wil Arndt, the Creative Director and owner of Mod7, where I currently work. I met Wil while working on my final project in the program, on which he acted as my project mentor.
We do a pretty wide variety of projects, mostly in the interactive design field, which all offer a unique set of challenges. I’ve done projects as small as a blog, to large scale educational games that push the boundaries of what you’ve seen on the web. I’m pretty excited about what I’ve had the opportunity to do since leaving VFS and I’m really excited about what the future holds.
So are we! Thanks, Tyler, for taking the time. Here’s hoping we hear much more from you in the future.