Interview with a designer & art director who chased his dream to America

Let’s start with the short intro about yourself. 

My name is Vitali Zahharov. I’m a lead visual designer with over than 10 years of experience. My main focus is designing large scale web projects, design systems and tools that lots of people will use for a very long time. I also worked for some big clients such as UFC, Royal Caribbean, Toshiba, TaxAct, Huawei, Oracle, Sun and Universal. Right now I am living my best life in sunny Los Angeles. I run design agency called Modden Creative, where I help clients improve their products by bringing my experience and value.

What led you into design?

Originally, I worked as ruby on rails for about 2 years since I fully switched to the design field and honestly I never regret about that decision since then.

My first steps in design was in 2011. I’ve started from simple retouching photos for my friends. Then I started to make small web-sites and business cards. I became more and more experienced, and just after several months of practicing I already worked as designer for local design agency located in my home country Estonia. Then my area of expertise started expanding to another countries. I started working with international teams for interesting projects from Europe and Asia. In 2017 I moved to Singapore for one year where I worked as Creative Director at design agency called Wishbone. We did a couple of innovative and truly inspiring projects for Toshiba, Naumi and JLL and that was an inspiring journey to me. The whole experience was so unbelievably touching to me. Singapore is an innovative modern city with different cultures, vibes and people from all around the globe. Skills that I’ve got from there help me to grow futher as an independent artist.

That’s cool. Tell us what is your typical day looks like nowadays?

Actually now it’s totally different that I had before. I work and live in LA, and that’s totally different from my hometown – it’s ten times larger, it’s also has a heavy traffic and nicer weather as well :).  Sometimes you can spend the whole day in just a few meetings, from one office to another, from one client to another. Personally, for me every day is different, very busy and unpredictable ! Always smth awesome is happening here and I love it !  I still like to explore the city along with my wife. But honestly I trying to stick to the schedule I have:

  1. Wake up at 7:00am
  2. Morning Gym
  3. Breakfast
  4. Checking my inbox and all the tasks for a day
  5. Morning meetings with clients and team departments
  6. Focus on work (sometimes it could be just 30 minutes per day) 

Where do you get inspiration from?

When we are talking about inspiration, I use community sites like Dribbble and Behance, sometimes Pinterest. I really care about my design collections I’ve created, so I always trying to keep them updated. For the past years I have a big source of inspiration – Awwwards and CSS Design Awards , where also I am a jury. This unique experience that really helps me to be on track and follow all the design trends.

What is the project you are most proud of? 

I really love the work we did with Thrive Market, Royal Caribbean, Dosist. Also there are couple of projects that received CSS awards in the category “site of the day”. When I moved to United States, I started my own design studio Modden Creative. It’s only design focused, but we have good partners that help us with back-end and front-end development as well.

What was the reason you moved to US?

First of all, it’s my design ambitions, for sure. Secondary, all the great minds from all over the world is here, literally, all the amazing and talented people are here, all the biggest and most incredible agencies based also here. It was a bit challenging for me to come here and start up my journey here. You should be very passionate about what you are doing and believe in yourself, plus of course you need to have some heavy weight projects in your pocket. People working in the US love to hear that you worked for big brands.

Is it hard to get work visa?

Not so hard, to be honest, but it takes just some time to prepare everything, collect information and all the documents that you will need during this process. I was less lucky cause my case have been stopped during pandemic due all the departments were closed at that time. 

 
What is your game plan for next 1-2 years?

I’m planning to promote my design agency by creating some fresh new stuff.

 
Any advice for ambitious designers?

You should practice a lot and be crazy over the details. Keep learning new things and making progress, and don’t stop no matter what! Look at me now, I’m the guy from a small country that now chasing his dreams in Los Angeles under his own brand. How crazy is that?

You can follow Vitali’s journey on his company website is modden.co

Interview with a designer & art director who chased his dream to America

Nigarai M Grusio

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