Interview with Russ Maschmeyer...

Hello people! It is the last day for April and for me that means close to here is another interview from...

Today's interview is with Russ Maschmeyer who is a designer at Facebook. I actually got the interview with Russ after interviewing Keenan Cummings. Kennan met Jeremy Fisher (his Wander partner) through Russ. Russ is a very talented designer, and has his own blog, which you can check out here. I am really proud that I got to interview him. Hope you enjoy.

Q. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?

A. When I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor. Some kids hung posters of Michael Jordan on their wall; I hung a poster of Albert Einstein. Somehow I still made friends. I was always more interested in solving problems and making new things possible than I was in sports or fast cars. When I was eleven I looted my grandparents' attic and found a large volume of hardbound Popular Mechanics how-to guides. My favorite how-to in the set explained how to make your own two-seater helicopter. I'm still keeping that one in my back pocket for a rainy day. I was always making—or attempting to make—crazy things. When I was younger I made super hero gadgets. When I was in high school I made furniture. In my senior year at college I made my first website and became instantly fascinated with graphic design and interactive design, which I am still obsessed with to this day.

Q. How did you get into designing?

A. I was a fine art major, so in my senior year I made a portfolio website for some of my artwork. I used Dreamweaver to put the site together and even included a little flash animation: a ticker that scrolled "Russ Maschmeyer" on a loop across the top of the screen. Oh the POWER! I immediately pirated a copy of Flash and started teaching myself how to make entire websites with it. Of course I had no idea how to code, so I was doing the best I could, using the WYSIWYG tools. It was hilariously awful stuff. I was in an indie-rock band from 2005 until about 2009. Apart from being crazy fun, it was a constant design exercise. I was always designing show posters, t-shirts, logos, album covers, and of course designing and redesigning our website over and over again. I didn't know any designers, so I had to learn by failing again and again. Other bands saw the work and asked me to design websites for them. I started learning to code a little bit. Mostly light Actionscript. My first big freelance web design client was a small recording studio in New York. I think I got paid a couple thousand dollars to design it. I was pretty thrilled with that, but when you actually divide it out over the hours I worked, I probably got paid about five dollars an hour. I was just so hungry to do real design work that it didn't matter one bit. I started getting contacted by recruiters, which inevitably washes you ashore in the ad agency world. I was pretty starry-eyed because suddenly I was working with big brands in a fancy office and saw my work featured online. It was also the first time I was surrounded by other designers that could teach me things and real web engineers that could build pretty much anything I could think of. The pay was also vastly better than what I had been making. I could finally afford to eat things other than my homemade rice and beans. But sooner or later all the perks of the advertising world wear off and you realize you're just making ads to sell products you don't really believe in. Luckily, just as I was waking up to this reality, the School of Visual Arts started an Interaction Design masters program. I read the course descriptions and instantly realized it was everything I ever wanted to do. It was essentially a crash course in everything one could need to be come a successful inventor in today's world. I had about two weeks to throw together my application and my portfolio. I quit everything else I was doing, put it all together and a few months later found myself in grad school. Best decision I ever made (apart from asking Jess to marry me).

Q. What do you do at Facebook and what is it like working there?

A. I'm a product designer at Facebook, which means I work with the product team (product managers, engineers, and other designers) to conceive, design, and build all the different aspects and interactions of Facebook. I've been there about 8 months and spent most of that time working on a product for university groups, which we successfully launched a couple of weeks ago. Working at Facebook is incredible. There's a lot of perks like amazing free food in the café, snack stations, great coffee, and commuter buses with WiFi, but it's the people who make it truly awesome. Facebook has somehow collected the smartest, most inventive, most dedicated people on the planet to spend every day inventing and re-inventing the social fabric of the internet. It's extremely challenging, engaging and fun.

Q. What type of computer do you use and why?

A. This is an easy question to answer: I use a MacBook Pro. I use this one because Facebook gave it to me, but I have my own that saw me through grad school. There is no better computer experience than a mac. From design to hardware to software to customer service: no company is even in the same ballpark.

Q. If you could have anything in the world, what would it be and why?

A. Oh man! What a hard question. I feel like I've been really lucky in the important things... Ah! I got it! I want to buy a piece of land in the mountains, take six months to a year and spend it designing and building a cabin from just the materials on the land. That would be freakin' awesome.

That was ballin', I really liked interviewing Russ and I am even more honored that I had the chance to talk to him. He is certainly on the road to success!

Thanks Russ,


ReviewDavid Silverman