Meet the Staff: Ryan Rushing
What’s your job at Unit?
Most of my days are split between working with clients and working with customers; both are intrinsically focused on communication and problem-solving. For our Unify customers, I’m a trouble-shooter, while my client-focused projects allow for much more creative freedom.
How did you end up working here?
In 2005, I started as an in-house web designer and front-end developer at a technology company in North Louisiana. I did a ton web development, but there were not a lot of creative adventures. A week before my wedding I left with no prospects, and several months later I landed a position in a small DFW suburb as a web designer. My wife and I moved, optimistic of things to come, but the departure of a big client there left me without a job after only two months. Very soon after that happened I chatted with a good friend, Kyle Steed, told him what happened, and he directed me to the nearest Unit Interactive.
Excellent (and thanks, Kyle!). So what’s great about your job? Anything?
When I work on Unify support, I get to work with fellow web designers and developers across the world to identify problems and implement solutions. Since I’m on this side of the system now, it’s very interesting to see how people approach the magical support desk. It’s definitely changed the way I request support when I need it.
More generally speaking, whether it’s with Unify customers, our clients, or my fellow Unitards, I love talking with people and learning about them. Everyone’s story is unique. As a designer, I get to tap into the infinite stories that make us human and then develop a relationship through them, and being able to do that day-to-day is very rewarding. Also, I can be weird and it’s okay.
You mentioned that your experience on the Unify support line has changed the way you request support when you need it. How so?
When requesting support in the past, I’ve made myself the center of the world. I have a problem, I come to the magical support desk, and you fix this problem. Although, that is how it should seem, the work behind the scenes is much more difficult that I previously imagined. After juggling many support requests at a time I now understand how demanding any support position can be, and my appreciation for it has dramatically increased.
Speaking of exposure to the inner workings of the profession, you organized a big student group visit to Unit a few weeks back. How did that happen and why did you think that was a good idea?
In college, I was a part of UG2, which is a student-created/student-led graphic design organization. We frequently took trips out of the state and visited many other design agencies and saw how they did things. As a student, one of the biggest rewards was to be welcomed by these agencies and take part in a tour and discussion about their work practices and culture. It was some of the most relevant exposure I had to the professional world, and it helped tremendously. I always left less terrified of the professional environment and with more inspiration than any classroom project ever gave me.
Since Unit works in a different way than most agencies, I thought these students could benefit from the same experience that I’ve had. While they were in town for the DSVC national student show and conference, I suggested they come by Unit for a short time, and they really enjoyed it. We had a blast too!
So what do you do when you’re not solving problems and building relationships?
At home I think of myself somewhat as an artist. I love to draw custom typography, screen print, make books, and that’s just where it starts. If I can realistically imagine something, I’ll try to make it. Sitting in one spot all day on the computer with my eyes forward and fingers hammering on the keyboard can cause my attention span to shorten (more so than usual); it’s almost like my brain gets a bit of cabin fever. Creating things with my hands is very therapeutic and has become a necessary routine, which exercises the creative side of my brain, giving the analytical side a break for a while.
Fave movie? Are you even a movie fan?
I love any movie about time travel, and although I haven’t seen them all, my favorite time travel movies (so far) are the Back to the Future movies. The tongue-in-cheek science fiction mixed with awesome ‘80s design is unstoppable. Also, Back to the Future predicted the flat screen TV, Xbox Kinect, and video conference calls, though I’m still waiting on hoverboards and time machines.
Why are you a design professional?
I believe designers are very similar to the thinkers of the Renaissance. They were inventors, artists, astronomers, and philosophers, and much like them, designers today must also delve into the realms of psychology, anthropology, and sociology, among other things. We must be fantastic craftsmen, deep, analytical and conceptual thinkers and in whatever medium we must be good artists. To get to combine so many disciplines, form after function, day in and day out, in an effort solve either the world’s biggest problem or one client’s tiny HTML issue, is the most fun and rewarding career I could ever hope to have.
What do you know now that you wish you knew 3 years ago?
Three years ago I hadn’t worked with any clients, as I was an in-house designer, and my thoughts on how client-designer relations should work were hugely misconceived. I wouldn’t say that I have an absolute understanding of this industry and its little quirks, but learning from some of the most practiced designers and business people in the design industry has certainly opened my eyes to how this show should be run.
Ryan’s personal website