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Solid Sit-Downs: Curtis Renkiewicz, UX/UI Designer

Curtis describes himself as a “goofy millennial” who loves to question the status quo. He truly believes that if you are doing something because it’s the way it’s always been done, then you need to ask why and make a change.
Curtis Renkiewicz Interview

Curtis spent the last 3.5 years designing digital products for web and mobile at companies such as Reliable PSD and Sears (Shop Your Way). He has a strong background in visual design and user experience, but an uncanny hunger for design strategy. He loves to solve problems by stepping back to understand the purpose and creating purpose-driven principles to be used with collaborative design methodologies.

Q&A w/ Curtis Renkiewicz

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

– Albert Einstein

I love this quote because it reminds of this important difference between being selfish vs. being a good team player. When you focus on being valuable you become a team player working towards helping your team Win. When you focus on being successful you’re focused on helping yourself win.

Q: What inspired you to become a Designer?

This is such an interesting thing to reflect on. My mom has always been creative and for as long as I can remember I did creative projects with her. Whether it was helping with classroom parties when I was younger, or scrapbooking with her. As I got older my brother showed me Adobe Photoshop and how he was making these graphics for the other gamers that we played halo with. After that, the rest is history. I went hog wild on doing graphics, video, web name it, I tried to do it with video games as my source of content.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about being Designer at Solid Digital?

Before I had the opportunity to join Solid Digital I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I valued. Solid Digital fits into what my friend Michelle and I call “food for my soul.” The different qualities are curiosity, growth, discovery, inclusivity, collaboration, impact, and creation of something bigger than its parts. Every day as a designer at Solid Digital, I get any number of these. I get to apply my love for systems and creative problem solving to impact different businesses and the growth of Solid Digital’s future… that is what I love.

Q: As a Designer, What expertise do you bring to your clients?

Bringing people together to develop and wrangle in ideas. A lot of people think meetings are the worst thing in the world and don’t help them move forward. As a designer, I help our clients by facilitating workshops that bring people and ideas together in a structured way. These workshops help people open up, collaborate, and make a decision.

Q: What is your approach to providing great customer service?

My approach is simple. Keep these three things top-of-mind, inclusivity, empathy, and actively listen. You have to show people that you actually care by actively listening to them, showing them that you understand and empathize with them, and lastly include them in the process and the decision making.

Q: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on during your time at Solid Digital?

I don’t want to spoil too much, but my favorite project so far has been this secret internal project we are working on for our Digital Growth program. Going back to the qualities that “feed my soul” this project has a major impact on our business and is truly allowing me to be at the center of the strategy… understanding it and using my UX skill set to help drive positive change.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I really enjoy being outside with friends doing whatever, even if it’s just eating at a restaurant. I value my time with friends and family over everything else. However, I really do enjoy video games and use it as a way to stay in touch with my friends and family that aren’t nearby.

Q: What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

This is something I always talk about doing but haven’t got around to actually creating something. I typically spend my spare time learning more about being a vegan, or helping my mom with her small business, Somewhere In Time Vintage.

Q: What is your favorite museum?

I’ve only been to a few including the Flint Institute of Art, Field Museum, The British Museum, and The Louvre. I have to say that the Louvre has to be my favorite even though my time there was limited. When I took art history courses in university, I was always enamored with French paintings. To be able to see these paintings at scale was thrilling…They dwarfed everyone in the room.

Q: Your top 3 favorite Podcasts/Books?

The Innocent Mage is one of the best books I’ve read in awhile, not that I’ve read too many in the last year. Although it is quite slow and monotonous in the first 100 pages, this book will captivate any fantasy enthusiast. The plot is well developed and continues to keep you on your toes. Karen Miller’s use of imagery will have you engulfed in this story as if you were watching it happen before your own eyes.

The Product Breakfast Club, now known as Jake and Jonathan, is my favorite product design focused podcast. Not only do Jake and Jonathan give you endless product strategy/design insight but they make you laugh and give you a moment to relax. This podcast is light enough to have in the background and still obtain some useful information.

I’m going to throw in a WildCard here… It’s not a podcast, but a YouTube channel that I can’t get enough of. I use youtube for many things, including news from channels such as Philip DeFranco. Phillip DeFranco has been a source of unbiased news for me.

Q: What is one of your favorite things about Solid Digital’s Culture?

It feels natural… need I say more? I understand why and why bureaucracy and chain-of-command are important, but inclusivity is just as important. You never know who is going to have the best idea. At Solid, we manage to make it feel like everyone is equal, but we still have our organizational structure. We treat each other with respect and have fun with it. Our culture at Solid allows us to have fun while getting things done.

Q: What is your favorite Solid Tradition?

Happy hours are my favorite tradition because we all just take a moment to pause and enjoy having a little fun together. It fits perfectly with our culture..we aren’t just a bunch of drones playing whack-a-mole on our keyboards. So I really cherish when we take that moment to have fun at a barcade or play Settlers of Catan.

Q: What do you like on your pizza?

I’ve only tried a few pizzas since I’ve become vegan, but I’ve found that I enjoy vegetables such as mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, and bell peppers on my pizzas.

Q: What’s your most-used mobile application and why?

On a typical week, my most-used app is either my web browser Brave, Spotify, or iMessage. I use Brave often because I’m always looking things up..especially if something comes up in a conversation that I don’t know. I use Spotify for 99% of my music which I’m listening to a lot of music to help generate a mood or create a focus for myself. I’m kind of an iPhone die-hard per se, so I use iMessage to keep in touch with almost everyone in my life.

Q: What are three things still left on your bucket list?

I haven’t ever sat down and created a bucket list, but a few things I’ve always wanted to do that I haven’t yet are skydiving, explore more east of Europe, and do a notable presentation for a large audience.

Q: What is the 1 piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to have a career in your field?

Remember that this field is not about being a lone’s about collaboration and open exchange of ideas. Don’t be afraid to lean on other people to create something great. Secondly, remember that perfection is impossible. Strive to learn from your mistakes and grow over time.

Q: What would you like to be known for?

Personally, I simply want my friends to remember me for being someone who brightened them when we were hanging out. Professionally, I want to be known for making an impact on others in my profession..from doing something like a presentation or a book.

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