Welcome to our Meet the Team post! This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan Russell, co- founder of Twenty Over Ten. His goal- driven, innovative, and inquisitive characteristics truly shine bright here at Twenty Over Ten. Take a look at our conversation to better get to know Ryan:
1) Where were you born and raised?
I was originally born in Philadelphia PA but was raised in State College PA.
2) To you, what is the most challenging thing of being a graphic designer?
Every project and client is unique. Each day there are new challenges, which push us as a company to evolve. I’m proud of our track record with system upgrades and the additions of new capabilities. This is always driven by feedback from our users. There is never a dull moment in the office.
3) What compelled you to get into graphic design/ website development?
Design isn’t just about making things that are pretty. It’s much more complex. Design aims to solve problems across a variety of mediums. It’s should always be completely objective, focusing on the needs of the audience first, and foremost.
4) I see you are also an Associate Professor of Design at Penn State. What is it like teaching design to students? What is it like teaching at the school you graduated from?
This is one of my greatest accomplishments. I take tremendous pride in my students and their work. Classes are vigorous and the hours are often long. Our alumni work in some of the most important design positions in the world.
5) What inspired you to start the company Twenty Over Ten?
This all started with a conversation with a friend who happened to be a financial advisor. He was complaining about the lack of resources at his disposal to create online marketing materials that he was able to update and stay compliant.
I immediately approached my good friend (and now co-founder) Nick DiMatteo and pitched the idea about a tool that would allow financial advisors and other professionals in compliance-regulated industries to create and maintain websites that meet the highest standards of design, accessibility and user experience. We met over beers and immediately started white boarding ideas. White boarding led to discussions, arguments, and questions about users, their needs, as well as their capabilities. Understanding the user and the regulatory hurdles they face became the company’s defining trait – dictating every decision in design and functionality.
6) From your experience thus far, if you could give one piece of advice to any young professional taking a risk and starting a career, what advice would you give them?
Get a mentor, someone who can help you process ideas, challenges, and opportunities. It’s important that their feedback is unbiased and objective. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented people who have helped shape my career. In any professional endeavor you should surround yourself with smart, ambitious, talented people. If you are the smartest person in the group, it’s time to find a new group.
7) How do you stay inspired to create? Is there something specific (like a daily ritual) you do to come up with new creative ideas?
When you have a creative block, stop what you’re doing immediately. Change your scenery, go for a walk, read a book, have a conversation. For me, I read. A lot. Blogs, magazine, books, you name it. Inspiration comes from a lot of different sources and not always from where you’d expect.
8) Any hobbies? How did you get into them?
Lots. Mostly physical activities. I was an athlete growing up and played football at a Division III college in the Midwest. I’ve always had a competitive mentality and I find that physical activity helps me relax and also helps me focus.
9) When you aren’t working, what’s one thing you love to do to unwind?
2 month ago my wife Samantha and I welcomed our baby boy, Hudson Russell, to the world. He now has a monopoly on all of my free time, and I couldn’t be happier.
10) You’re given the ability to have dinner with anybody in the world (real, fictional- dead or alive). Who would you choose and why?
Elon Musk. Seriously, this guy is a real life Iron Man.
11) If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be? Why?
The ability to fly. Lately I’ve had the urge to travel. Flying seems like a cost effective way to get to far away places and without the hassle of standing in airport lines. Not quite sure how I’d get my luggage there though.
Hope you got to see a sneak peak of who Ryan is. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for our next Meet the Team Post!