andrew tralongo cut from the same cloth feature

Cut from the same cloth

Xugar has been a great opportunity for myself to develop a vast variety of skills – it is something I did not expect from applying for a web design internship nearly a year and a half ago. And with the way the company has grown and developed, I have quickly risen to the top. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it greatly, but I also wish that it progressed a little differently.

From A-B and B-C

From just a Digital Graphic Designer, I moved to Design Director as the company developed – in terms of the role and responsibilities I had, nothing drastically changed as I had already created my own work and developed a new arm of the business in content creation and design.

However, it is once I became the Design Director and Project Coordinator that things became a little different, now managing the design and development departments of the business. Having to manage and train people below you is much more difficult than I thought. Your time gets eaten into defining and delegating tasks, checking other peoples work before it gets sent out to the client or even other departments, replying to emails and the nitty gritty of it all. It’s funny how productive a day can feel and still not know exactly what you did that made you feel so productive. Trying to keep on top of it all sounded so easy, but I never realised how hard it actually was.

It’s funny how productive a day can feel and still not know exactly what you did that made you feel so productive.

Towards the beginning it was real difficult. All the inherited tasks of the previous manager (late projects, half completed websites, little-to-no briefing and supporting documentation, and most importantly frustrated clients) it was a load of stress that to be honest, wasn’t the easiest to deal with. As a matter of fact, I didn’t deal with it at all – it felt so overwhelming. I was taking all of the blame on my shoulders and it was tearing me down bit by bit. I wanted to prove that I could clean all this up, not just to the company, but to myself; That I could get through this and prevail on top.

While in the ‘storm’ of it all, after one day where it all felt like way too much, something had to change. Not just the way I was managing the tasks, but the way that I have to be to be able to do this kind of work. The first I knew was going to be how to actually manage the projects and daily tasks; because what was done before, wasn’t working.

Refine, refine, refine.

I had helped the previous project manager develop a clearer project development process so I already understood how that worked. The best way for it to improve is to simply use it when we receive a new project and refine, refine, refine.

Image sourced from eBooks.com

Bullet Journaling

The bigger task however was managing tasks on a day-to-day basis. I could track all the tasks in our project management platform, Teamwork, however for things like Ring client in regards to X, Draft up email to Y or even just your odd favour for someone that you know you should write down otherwise you’ll forget, it just gets too time consuming compared to just writing a note. I tried to write your good old, big standard To Do lists but it was often just on pieces of paper that would be eventually lost within the stacks of scrap notes and paper. Then I attempted to move to digital and keep a typed up list going, that I could copy and paste uncompleted tasks over from the previous day, but then I might as well have been doing it on our Teamwork system.

Walking around Milligram with my partner, we found a few books about Bullet Journaling. I had no idea what it was, but my partner told me that it would be a good idea to do. There was one book however which stood out amongst the bunch – The 365 Bullet Guide by Zennor Compton. So I flicked through a few pages, liked the vibe, and picked it up.

A notebook always ends up messy and in-organised to a degree, but I liked that you can design order within that chaos. Customise the way that you want the diary/journal to be laid out in within every spread. Combine both meeting notes and daily task lists neatly into the one book. I thought that it would be a good starting point to start, with the possibility to further develop and refine the journal.

Podcasts

The next thing was something which I have been trying to work on for a while now – finding other designers to connect and relate with. Being able to relate and even just vent to others who are experiencing the same kind of day-to-day issues. Building new relationships is something that I am trying to work on, however I have been wanting to be more productive in my down time. Not being a big reader, I though I would try listening to a podcast before investing in audio books. After researching a few design related podcasts, I discovered The Honest Designers Show and Design Life. I tried a few other podcasts but I didn’t find them that relatable, often like mini TED Talks. Why I connected to these shows was that it was simply a few authentic people having a conversation, finding out ways to overcome their problems at hand or learning about something new they are genuinely interested in, with advice that isn’t limited to a single form of design.

And now…

And now many of these projects have been completed and handed off to their respective clients, and the last of them nearing a close. I’m actively listening to these podcast, and even started tuning in to Tom Ross’ The Honest Entrepreneur Show to discover if there is another area I can explore. Even though we have been working on Xugar’s YouTube channel, a YouTube presence has been something that I have been thinking of delving into…


andrew tralongo wake up wake up wake up feature

WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP

WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP

The 1975 — One of the biggest bands that you have never heard of.

I have waited for this concert for just over 9 months and it was well worth it. What was supposed to be their third and final album evolved into an ‘era’ for the band. Their sophomore album more self indulgent, kicking off the album with Love Me, and even the title itself; I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.

The first, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, was all about… well online relationships; the 15-song album expressed through atmospheric pianos and even spoken word from Siri covering a world of social media and screen-to-screen communication. Songs like Love It if We Made It grew from news headlines and popular throughout the year, quoting the sitting President of the USA which banned them from being played on the radio. The album covering the social media landscape as a whole, and one of my favourite albums of all time.

No, if we’re going to get censored, we’re going to get censored for verbatim quoting the leader of the free world. That is the song in its essence. How weird is reality?

Their next, Notes On A Conditional Form, has taken the same approach of addressing the current state of society, taking a different approach tackling issues like mental health, the ecological crisis and climate change. The first release of the new album was a spoken word piece from 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. The lead single People screamed its importance to a T with industrial punk rock while taking visual inspiration from lo-fi zines, typography and the ‘look at me’ culture of social media.

All of this hype and anticipation built to a peak when the concert was held on the very same day as the Global Climate Strike where millions of people around the world stop to say enough is enough.

Having a band, and a fan base at that point, which is so invested in this fundamental problem in our society performing on such an important day in making a change is simply inspiring. The band left the stage, Matty (the lead singer) turned around to watch as Greta performed her piece. The audience was silent. Listening to every word. Cheering at every hard point being made. It was inspirational that we can make a change. That people care and that we are ready for change.

We need a system change rather than individual change,
but you cannot have one without the other.


andrew tralongo blog learn by learning feature

Learn by Learning

I’ve been lucky that my job has let me grow and develop new skills. From knowing nothing about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to, what I’ve been told, knowing more about SEO than some ‘SEO experts’ in the industry.

I’m not sure how much I believe them, but hey, I’ll take the compliment.

I have learn’t more than just digital marketing though, I have picked up a lot of skills in design and development. I knew a bit of HTML and CSS from high school and uni, having coded my old website, but developed a lot of knowledge in WordPress, even having migrated this very website.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of hick ups along the way (low key thinking that I would have to re-create it form the ground up for the third time) but managed to figure out solutions with some googling and help from friends.

The biggest catalyst for this has been assisting in developing the video production, blog and overall content creation with Xugar.

While editing each video, and even writing the scripts themselves, I watch it through countless times to make sure everything is the best it can be before it goes live. It makes it very easy to digest what is being said and has made it a very effective method of learning more about digital marketing and development. Even better, when I write a script about something design, or something which I don’t really know much about, it forces me to learn more about it.

Even with video production in itself, a year ago I knew what Premiere Pro was and had some brief experience with After Effects, but I never would have pictured myself less than a year later having created full animated videos for clients and directed & produced over 50 videos live on YouTube.

It’s been wild.

Some days are a struggle, but others are a blast.

With every video I produce, every blog post I write, I learn more skills and gain more knowledge; And I want to keep on learning and growing.

But in terms of what’s next?

That I’m still figuring out…


andrew tralongo blog youre kinda an idiot feature

You Are Kind Of An Idiot

You Are Kind Of An Idiot

Okay… So, some context:

Last month, Adam J. Kurtz came to Melbourne to talk at The Design Conference with AGDA.

Did I go to see him? No… No I didn’t.

Did I know who he was at the start of June? No… No I didn’t.

I was first ‘introduced’ to him through a few Instagram stories of other designers I follow. With raw typography on saturated backgrounds stating very candid and to-the-point one liners, I was intrigued. So I did a Google, watched his talk at the Adobe Conference and found out about his book Things Are What You Make Of Them.

Now I’m not going to lie; I don’t know why, I barely read books (I can never stay focused on what I am reading. My eyes will be going from line to line, and my brain will be thinking ‘What can I have for lunch today? Maybe a sandwich? Do we have cheese left in the fridge? Nah… I think I finished it yesterday. Maybe I can use brie instead. Will that taste any good? Yea why not, what am I going to do, have a toasted sandwich without cheese? That’s. Absurd.’) but for some reason I’m a sucker for personal development-y books. I really enjoyed The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck. I think it has something to do with that I feel like I’m learning something; if I wanted a ‘story’ I would just turn on Netflix and finish Stranger Things or watch some more Game Grumps. So as a matter of fact, I do know why…

So long story short, I bought his book on “life advice for creatives”.

Now as for my professional development in the industry, I like to think that I have vasty grown and refined my skills across design, project management and general workplace skills. Learning how to talk to clients, how to develop and implement ideas across a team, so on and so forth, as anyone would in their first job. Although, I like to think have been lucky in my experience but also been pushing myself by been thrown in the deep end; willingly and head first at that.

With everything all the skills I have been learning, developing and refining, at every moment I try to simply remember;

“You are kinda an idiot”

It’s important to reflect in what areas I’ve grown and developed, but I try to keep it in the back of my mind to keep me grounded. One of the biggest things which I struggle with at times, but try to embrace as much as possible, is feedback. Reminding myself that I’m ‘an idiot’ is me reminding myself that there is always space to learn and grow.


andrew tralongo blog xugar design week 2019 feature

Xugar Design Week 2019

Xugar Design Week 2019

A few weeks ago, I gave myself a challenge; To write, film, edit and release a design-focused video every day for a five days straight. This would be the very first Xugar Design Week.

As soon as I planned all the videos out and fully committed to it, I already thought I had bit off more than I could chew. Although as soon as I started actually figuring out what video was about and writing the scripts, I felt more confident in myself that I was going to see it to the end. I decided to try a new format of Podcasting and by the end of the week I had successfully completed the very fist Xugar Design Week! Now that’s its been a few weeks I am still really proud of the content that is out and am keen to give myself another ‘impossible’ task or goal in the next few weeks!

To find everything that we created, here’s a link to find all the content we released.

Now the planning for Xugar Design Week 2020 begins…