[Humanode Special Interview Series]: Vlad, designer at Humanode

Vlad, designer at Humanode, discusses his background story, dreams and aspirations, and what gets him excited about design in the crypto-biometrics space.

[Humanode Special Interview Series]: Vlad, designer at Humanode

Vlad, please introduce yourself. Where are you from, and what is your history? As a kid, what were your dreams and aspirations?

My name is Vlad. Most people would find this introduction sufficient. However, I must proceed that my full name is Vladimir which verbatim translates from Russian as «the one who possesses peace», yet sometimes it’s hard to find it within oneself. I come from Moscow, Russia, born and raised, being the 6th generation of Moscovites in my family, at least to my narrow knowledge.

I have graduated from the same alma-mater as Victor and Dato, the founders of the project Humanode. Although I was never meant to live up to the profession stated in my graduation degree – international economic relations. As descended from a family of academicians in the medical field, as a kid I always aspired to achieve high highs in this domain. I once told my teacher standing in front of the whole class that I wanted to become a Nobel Prize laureate, and immediately got laughed at. Ambitious statement for a 6-year old, isn’t it?

Although fate decreed otherwise and I never became a doctor, or a scientist in general, the ambitions remain within. You never know what the future holds, right? All in all, I am grateful to my family, who accepted me the way I am and are eager to support me in every beginning I undertake. They cultivated in me a passion for science and a rational approach, which may seem counterintuitive, if we talk about design. However, those things are universal, you know.

Could you tell a bit about your design experience? Any memorable moments to share?

I am fully, from A to Z, an autodidact in design. It all started in the university, sophomore year, when my classmate suggested that I develop web-sites with them. We took on quite a few projects, free of charge since we were gaining experience at the time. I always believed that though I lacked knowledge in the field, visualisation has always been my element.

If one digs deeper, it’s always possible to find the roots of this passion in childhood, when I spent hours and hours covering A4 notebooks with patterns trying to invent a new one. But I will leave this digging to the therapists (chuckle).

As for memorable moments, it’s hard to remember one apart from the first time I got paid. It was the milestone that helped me realise that what I did was needed and generated value. Most self-taught artists suffer from impostor syndrome, so, if you – the reader – like what I do, it makes me happier than ever.

How did you discover Humanode, and what got you interested?

Oh, this one is THE story to be told. Some would call it fate, I call it a sequence of highly improbable events or, simply, luck.

This sequence had known its inception long before I knew Humanode would exist. As I mentioned above, Victor and Dato graduated from the same university as I did, and by that time had already founded the Paradigm Fund, not only a trust management but also a research institute in the crypto field.

They took part in the university’s so-called ‘Career Day’ that allowed students seeking a job to apply for a vacancy, including one in the Paradigm Fund. My classmate found this post and decided to give it a go. Despite the CV they gave an ironic touch to, Victor and Dato hired them as a researcher. Many months later the Paradigm Fund found itself in need of redesigning the content they did and charged my classmate with finding a designer. Luckily, on the outskirts of consciousness they recalled I once told them I made a living by designing things. So they proposed my candidature to Victor and Dato. So, as the custom goes, the founders of the Fund put me on a probation period. They charged me with redesigning one of the reports and giving an assessment to their current web-site. And here comes the sheer luck part. The day before Dato and Victor hired me, my childhood friend had shared with me an Instagram profile of a talented niche artist who was doing beautiful post-apocalyptic sci-fi sceneries. Immense my surprise was when it came to the assessment of the Paradigm Fund’s current web-site and I found out that the blurry image the previous designer used as a background for it was EXACTLY one of the artworks that the niche artist had created. I guess, showing the artwork to the founders of the Fund helped me make an impression of a professional designer who knew so to say the market and prevented the Fund from using a copyrighted image. That being said, plus the fact Victor and Dato admired my efforts of redesigning one of the reports and (indirectly) the fact we studied in the same university, I became part of the Paradigm Fund family. Since then we all have lived through numerous vicissitudes of fate, but Victor and David never lost faith in me, which I am infinitely grateful for. Thus, I was present at the birth of the Humanode project and I am glad to work here.

Since joining the team, what has been your focus in your role, and please describe your work routine — where do you usually work and how do you set up your work environment? What excites you the most about design in the crypto-biometrics space?

Well, since joining the team I have served in the role of a Swiss Army knife in the design department considering that this far, I have been the only designer in the team. My tasks started with creating the logo, branding, developing the web-site, designing the inner and outer documentation, the article covers for our blog, and many others.

My work routine may seem not very intense for a bystander as the lion’s share of it is happening ‘under the bonnet’, in other words in my brain. The hardest thing in my job is to grasp insight and this may take even up to months of pondering. When the whole canvas of what I am going to do is well thought of, I set up to design it, which is a bumpy road too as often I face technical issues I need to overcome. I use quite a number of tools, among them being Adobe software and Figma.

Lately I’ve decided to conquer another terra incognita for me – 3D modelling, and dedicate almost all my time to learning new stuff in this domain.

As for the last question, it’s not particularly the crypto-biometrics that excites me the most but the fact that the team gives me absolute freedom of manoeuvre and lets me do things the way I want them to be done. They take me and my peculiarities with understanding and, this being said, I consider myself exceptionally lucky.

Aside from work life, what hobbies do you enjoy doing? Any books or movies you like to recommend?

I’ve transformed my hobby into my job, otherwise I would hopelessly vegetate somewhere in an open-space office which I am fed up with.

However, design is not my only passion. Ever since my studenthood, I have been fond of mathematics. Nowadays, I consume tons of popularised maths content, the Queen of all science sometimes helping me to take a new angle on the work I do. And it goes without saying that 3D modelling requires at least superficial understanding of maths.

Also, to get distracted I play a lot of Overwatch being a huge fan of the Blizzard franchise; someday I will get to the list of top 500 players on the European server, I promise!

I am a passionate film- and series head, but I watch the content through the prism of my job, trying to find those with stunning CG. In this regard, two films stand out for me: Doctor Strange by Marvel and Annihilation by Alex Garland, and among the series my latest discovery is the Foundation by Apple TV, based on novels by Isaac Azimov.

My favourite book is the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

What are your goals in life?  What do you want to be doing in 5 years time, then in 10 years time.

I find this question the most boring every time I get asked. Referring to the Master and Margarita’s character Voland – the incarnation of a diabolical but just force in the novel (like Ghoete’s Mefisto) –, ‘man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he's sometimes unexpectedly mortal - there's the trick!’. This reference shows the uselessness of planning that far ahead, but if I am to answer, I’ll put it this way: in 5 years I expect to be 5 times further than I am now, in 10 years – fiftyfold.

Anything you would like to say to the community and the testnet human nodes?

Stay unique, stay united. (And hydrated)