App Maker Spotlight: Anthony Hall
[Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series that highlights ArcTouch’s talented team members. Our staff are all “app makers” in the spirit of the maker movement — we crave getting our hands on the latest tech or finding creative solutions to our clients’ challenges.]
New ArcTouch creative director Anthony Hall first got his start in technology when his dad bought an Atari 800XL and he taught himself how to code in BASIC. He was 8.
And when the Silicon Valley native took a programming class in middle-school that taught him Logo, a lifelong passion for design (and turtles) was born.
“That was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Hall, who recently joined ArcTouch to head up our mobile app design practice. “That led me to learn more about art, typography, and color theory.”
The 42-year-old’s design career began with a gig as a designer for Apple, and has since spanned a mix of notable advertising agencies and startups. We recently sat down with Hall to talk about his design philosophy and background — and to get his take on the fast-moving mobile industry.
When it comes to using mobile devices, what’s your preferred platform?
My day-to-day device is an HTC One running Android Lollipop. I certainly have Apple devices and enjoy them. My kids love Apple, but I am a huge supporter of Google.
Where do you draw your best inspiration from? Do you have any books/magazines/websites you’d recommend?
I’m a very curious person and like to explore. I don’t put limits on my explorations. My main sources of inspiration are nature, architecture, photography, music, film, literature, fashion, sports and travel. You get the idea — everything and anything.
I love stories — it’s all about the narrative. Stories become pictures in my head and that is a type of strength for me. It allows me to create emotions, personality, and connections in my design work with the audience.
Typically, I start every day by trollin’ Twitter. After that, I cruise Behance, the FWA, Vimeo, Communication Arts, and Pitchfork to just name a few. I’ve been getting lost in Nowness. I love their short films and great photography.
Who are some of your design heroes?
Growing up writing code for art, my idols and heroes changed rules and invited new processes. People like John Maeda, Erik Spiekermann, Mike Monteiro, Michael Graves, Lee Clow, Karim Rashid — and one of my old creative directors, Jason Zada — demonstrate in their work a disregard for the same, plain, and boring. Sort of design rebels, if you will. Breaking rules is an important life skill that I admire.
Describe your creative process when it comes to designing for mobile apps. How is the thought process different than other types of design?
The mobile creative process is similar to most communication mediums — we start with a strategy, then discover new ideas, and finally construct boundaries. What is unique is thinking about how users will interact with the software. Testing ideas and layouts and technical controls are a major key to success — and this should happen at all stages of the mobile process.
If we plan properly, the technical stage will be smooth and this is where the magic happens. Our development team is the best anywhere. They help transform our design dreams into reality.
What is one thing you wish more people understood about the creative/design process and why?
A good design process starts with what needs to be created and not how it will be created. Starting with the technical how limits ideas and hinders the creative process. Creativity and ideation takes time. Allow the process to unfold, then we will test and iterate on these ideas before we finally create a plan to build.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing for mobile app design/user experience?
Outside of the technical innovations, there is still a huge need in mobile design to go outside each platform’s UI guidelines. Most mobile designs are not that inspiring — sorry! They are just safe. If we include interactivity, sound, and haptic responses — and are unafraid to break into custom interfaces where we can establish layouts that are more visually interesting and engaging — then we can create more personal experiences.
I’ve heard you’re big into martial arts (specifically, Kuk Sool Won). What can you take from that and apply to your job?
Patience and preparation. KSW is a beautiful and yet fierce fighting art form, but it takes time to succeed — just like art and design. My other sport is soccer (I’m a big fan of the San Jose Earthquakes). I love the strategy in the game. You could spend your whole life playing soccer and still need to learn and get better.
Why did you come to ArcTouch?
Mobile is a very personal medium. It’s almost like dating or being married. We establish very intimate relationships with our devices. My entire career has been about establishing connections and relationships. As a designer, I speak in a visual language that helps reinforce strong connections and mobile takes this intimacy one step further. Most people rarely share their devices and this allows the user to experience truths and feelings that you don’t have with any other medium.
The truth is, coming to ArcTouch was a selfish decision. I want to help forge how this industry unfolds. I’m just honored ArcTouch is giving me this opportunity to be free to express and create new paradigms in mobile.