All you really need to know is that I’m a designer, a good person and someone you’d probably enjoy grabbing a beer with. But since these pixels come for free, let’s go a little deeper.
I’ve been getting paid to be a designer for almost ten years, but I was designing for fun long before that. These days I call myself a “digital product designer” and work predominantly with startups.
Increasingly, the projects I work on find me in a hybrid of more traditional “Product” and “Design” roles. The best outcomes happen when I get involved with finding (and defining) the problems to be solved, collaborating to understanding them and then building out the solutions.
I code. My friend Martin taught me some HTML and CSS a long time ago, back when he was a photographer and I was designing newspapers. These days I have “prototyping” levels of code comfort in Ruby, Rails, Python, JS, HTML and CSS and their various abstractions.
It’s probably a cliché, but I really do love typography. I probably spend too much time reading type blogs and definitely spend too much money buying typefaces. Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style is one of my five all-time favourite books.
Bringing people together to talk about design is something I really enjoy. In the last year I’ve grown comfortable with the label of Community Organiser.
I’ve been running an event called Design+Banter for the last two years with my buddy Sam. We started it to meet other designers and to get to know the design community in London.
Now, twenty events later, it regularly attracts over 200 attendees, sells out in under a minute and has featured world-class design speakers from across the globe. We’re proud of what its has become.
Recently, Verena and I have started a second event at the intersection of design, data and “the internet”. It’s called Datamat.es. So far we’ve had speakers discuss everything from generative art, to slow data, to how open data can help to solve youth homelessnes.
A brief working history of me
Like everyone else, I started with posters for my friends’ events. Unlike most, I then took a detour through the world of newspaper design. I still love newspapers. While I was still studying at university, I worked as a page designer at the Irish Times.
Around the same time I tried my hand at writing and was published in Dubliner magazine and had one front-page story in the Irish Examiner.
As my focus moved more towards digital projects, I set up my own design agency in Dublin — it was alternatingly called 50RST or O’Rourke Design. That depended on how “edgy” a client you were.
At the same time I helped some friends get an event off the ground, and that event gave me the opportunity to meet some really amazing people. As a result I fell in love with startups, so I shut up shop, moved to London and joined EDITED as their Lead Designer.
Two years (and many fashion weeks) later I moved on to Event.ly — again as Lead Designer — where I got to work with great people like Jon, Sam, Sam and Matt. Before moving on I helped the founders spin out a new company called Listora.
Then I went back to being my own boss for a while.
I spent almost a year working as a product design consultant with a range of great clients, including Makeshift.io, Seedcamp, and Transferwise among others. But I missed the depth of problem solving working on one team allows.
That was around the same time I met the founders of Hassle.com.
I joined as Product Lead, built out the Design team, helped launch a few new markets, then after a year, took on the responsibility for the Growth team too. Running Growth was super challenging, but gave me a whole new view on the mechanics of a startup.
Hassle.com was acquired in July 2015 and, after a brief holiday hiking in the Artic, I took on the role of Global Head of Product Design at our new parent company Helpling.com.
Much of my time in recent years has been focused on organising events and providing a platform for other speakers in the design industry, rather than delivering talks myself. That said, I have taken some opportunities to speak at mainly London-based events. A selection are listed below:
- Mobile Moments, London, 2016
- Hybrid Conf, Dublin, 2015
- #FPLive @ Forward Partners, London, 2014
- The Last Word, London, 2014
- Seedcamp Product Day, London, 2014
- Makers Academy, London, 2013
- Up.front, Berlin, 2011
Speaking at more events is one of my goals for 2016/17. I tend to deliver talks about digital product design and design at startups.
Ask me to speak at your event