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Five Questions: Dan Rubin

dan_rubin Back in November 2014 I heard Dan Rubin talk at Break Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His talk was inspiring; providing great insight into areas such as technology, design and photography. Dan is a self-taught designer and photographer, he was born in Miami but now lives in London. He was formerly creative director at Moo.com and now works on a variety of design and photography commissions including web, branding and mobile. He was kind enough to take some time out to talk to Five Things about what makes him ‘tick’.

1. Where did you learn your craft?
I’m entirely self-taught — as both a designer and photographer — though of course that means I’ve learned not only from practice, experimentation, and playing around, but from books, conferences, teammates, clients, mentors, and meticulously deconstructing and reverse-engineering the work of others. I’d also say I’m still learning, though I don’t consider everything I do a ‘craft’ — I do things I’m passionate about, and I’m constantly attempting new things as a way to keep learning and discovering new ways to fuel my passion and curiosity.
I’m lucky that I’ve been able to spend so much of my life in so many different areas: 25 years of a cappella music (as a singer and choral director), over 20 years of design (graphic, identity, interaction, brand, user experience, product, creative direction), and now photography (2 years of what I’d consider commercial work; 7 years since properly discovering the medium as a creative outlet) — and that doesn’t include all the things I’ve spent far less time learning about. I’m always looking for the next thing to add to my list…

2. Has the digital age and the Internet ruined our enjoyment of the tangible ‘thing’?
Has the Kindle ruined our enjoyment of reading? I think certain aspects of digital and technological progress bring us closer to tangible things — the touchscreen, for instance, connects us with virtual objects in a way no keyboard or mouse ever could. Likewise, many people I know now read more books thanks to the lower ‘tangible cost’ of storing ebooks on virtual shelves.
If anything, the behaviour I see and experience is that we are now valuing the analog more highly as a result of all the time spent with the virtual. This goes for relationships as much as tangible items, and though much of the current love affair with hand-made, hand-crafted, physical goods Made in Your Country™ gets labeled ‘hipster’ I think its reach extends far beyond any single cultural minority.
So, in essence: no. If anything, it’s having the opposite effect, which is fantastic.

3. What apps do you use regularly, and why?
On my iPhone, mostly photographic apps:
• VSCO Cam
• Snapseed
• Touch Retouch
• Afterlight
• CortexCam
• Lumu Photo
and social / communication apps:
• Tweetbot
• Facebook/Messenger
• Foursquare/Swarm
• Whatsapp
though the main apps I probably use the most are the default iOS Camera and Messages, and a few utilities:
• Mailbox
• Dropbox
• Fantastical
• Citymapper
Seems a bit boring, really, but there you have it. I suppose, however, the reasons I use — and love — these apps are all fairly similar: They do what they do exceptionally well, and all are just as good examples of well-designed apps as they are useful to me in performing specific tasks.

4. What’s your favourite record cover?
That’s a tough one… either Pet Sounds (Beach Boys) or Kind of Blue (Miles Davis). Both iconic, both great examples of simple combinations of type, imagery, and colour.

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5. What are your five things. And why.

1. Polaroid SX–70 (and film, natch — if not for this camera, I might never have discovered photography)

2.  Iceland (Specifically the peninsula to the East of Höfn — it’s been nearly 8 months and I still can’t quite put how I feel about the island into words)

3. Macintosh Classic (mine still boots up, and it was my introduction to a world of digital creation that has led directly to everything I do today)

4.  Good Omens (by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman — the first book I read from each author, good for a few laughs, and the book I’ve loaned/given to more people than any other)

5. Glass Houses by Billy Joel (singing along and reading the lyrics on the LP liner was one of the ways I learned to read)

Huge thanks to Dan for taking the time to submit such wonderful answers. To find out a little more about Dan and the projects he’s involved with you can find him, and follow him, at any of the links below.

Twitter: @danrubin
Instagram: @danrubin
Personal ‘site’: http://danrubin.is
Photography: http://danrubinphotography.com
Skillshare courses: http://skl.sh/danrubin

Headshot credit: Chris Davis / specularworld.com