Under The Hood with… Matt Power
DA and Adobe have partnered up our live online event series Under the Hood, the next instalment is fast approaching on Thursday the 6th of August.
We spoke to the presenters to learn more about their design career, process, the project they will be sharing and their hopes for the future of Aotearoa design.
Today we hear from Matt Power, Senior Designer, Method
With thanks to our event partners Adobe.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you first got started in the industry?
I graduated in the UK and was an exhibitor at D&AD New Blood, which led to my first job at PlayStation Studios. I joined an incredible in-house team of roughly 40-50 and there was massive potential to learn and collaborate with all disciplines, including motion designers, editors, musicians, sound designers, artists and developers.
In-house isn’t always the first choice for creatives, but I was privileged to contribute ideas to major game IPs and see their journey from concept to release. We’ve since seen a huge increase in world-class in-house creative teams, especially in entertainment and tech. Personally I enjoyed it so much that I was there for ten years and my experience was fairly instrumental in my career direction.
Following a move to New Zealand, I spent two insightful years with Culture&Theory, learning a huge amount around brand strategy and design. Most recently I was drawn back into the world of creative tech and in 2019 I joined Method as a Senior Designer.
What does your typical working day as Senior Designer at Method involve?
My day starts with a coffee and catch up with the creative team first thing. Projects vary a great deal at Method so days vary accordingly. In the last few days, I’ve worked on ideation and design references for a couple of game concepts, strategy around a long term marketing plan, a homepage refresh as well as a more ambitious site overhaul with our junior designer and have been reviewing video content with our motion designer. I’m sure next week will be a new adventure.
What insight can you give us to your design process?
The most vital piece of creative advice given to me is to “know your objective.” It’s impossible to really start a project until everyone is aligned on the problem to solve. We frequently receive briefs with a very specific output in mind and our challenge is to always take a step back, to understand and hone in on the real needs driving the project. Regardless of output I always start with an idea and try to begin with broad strokes, working down to the detail.
What project will you be presenting in Under the Hood?
We’ve recently been working with a truly collaborative team at University of Auckland on a creative outreach programme. Our first deliverable is a project called Your World, Your Way; a microsite (launching next week) that aims to show relevant content to a younger audience of prospective students who are less certain of their future. It gives them an opportunity to explore the diverse world on offer at University of Auckland that they may not have seen before.
What was the most challenging part of the project and what lessons did you draw from it?
The biggest challenge on this project was bringing together all the moving parts to make a cohesive whole. I think the magic in what we do is ensuring an experience is simple and joyful on the surface, even if it’s complex under the hood. User experience is always front of mind, so we work alongside our developers to translate designs into something that not only looks good, but works. We’re always iterating on this process and we learn from every project.
Was there an ‘Aha!’ moment in the project when things clicked and fell into place?
There were a few along the way, but I think the main one was our first client presentation. As a team, we understood the brief well and we were aligned on a specific direction. Rather than focus on the immediate deliverable, we took a view of the long term and where this project would fit. Following the client presentation, there was a fairly resounding thumbs up.
Do you have a favourite feature or shortcut in Adobe Creative cloud programs?
I’ve spent the last 12 months really digging into Adobe XD. It’s become an integral part of my workflow and I use it at every stage of the process. During this project I used it for wireframes, sharing and testing prototypes, all the way through to developing page layouts and final art.
This time around we used the integration with Zeplin to share files with our developers and we’ve been using XD with After Effects to create motion prototypes.
What have you been working on recently?
Our work with University of Auckland has been my focus recently along with some additional long-term client projects which are a mix of web, brand and apps. In the background I’ve been working on an update of the Method site, which as with every studio project ever, takes a back seat for client work. But if I tell the world we’re working on it, then I have to finish it right?
2020 has thrown us some curveballs, how has Method adapted?
I’ve felt very fortunate and proud to be in New Zealand during these strange times. Method has been well set up for remote work since way before I joined and our studio director Sam was decisive in our plan of action. We were working from home at least a week before the official word.
The transition to working from home was a fairly natural one. We’re a collaborative bunch so the way we interacted changed a great deal, but between Slack and Hangouts we adapted quickly. Our priority was to make sure our clients, partners and team were all looked after. We remain conscious that for many of our clients, especially those overseas, things are still far from normal.
Since returning to the studio we’ve seen some team members adjust their working hours and reduce the number of days they spend in the studio. The communication lines are open and the standard remains high. I imagine we’re not the only studio making similar changes.
Outside of work hours what creative projects and/or hobbies are you involved with?
Outside of work there’s always a personal or studio project on the go that’s not getting enough attention during the day. I’m also naturally interested in gaming, entertainment and creative tech in general. But I really value time spent outdoors, especially by the sea, as a way to reset and clear my mind.
What do you hope for the future of design in New Zealand?
The standard of design in New Zealand is incredible and I’m massively proud of our community. I’m looking forward to a future where we see more representation internationally. We’ve seen ourselves successfully adapt to working remotely and areas of design like entertainment, gaming and digital in general are providing more opportunities to connect with an international audience.
And finally, what areas of your work or personal development are you hoping to explore further?
I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by a passionate, curious team; 3D artists and motion designers to front end, back end and game developers. They’re a constant source of inspiration and we’re at our very best when we work together so I’m looking forward to more of that in the future.
DA Online Event – Under The Hood August, Three Designers & Three Projects with Adobe
Thursday 6 August
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Online Zoom Webinar
Each designer will share the brief, how they approached it, talk us through that internal feedback loop – This is too hard! It’s not working! Why did I decide to be a designer?! – and out to the other side to client love and project success. All of these insights in a quick conversational ten-minute talk with screen sharing.
Matt Power, Designer, Method Studios
Adeline Marteil, Senior Designer, Shine Limited
Leah Surynt, Senior Designers, Designworks