Go behind the scenes with our sublime team members through our Spotlight Series.

Elrick Ryan is a Creative Engineer at Echobind. He was born in Montserrat and grew up in Boston. He loves designing, coding and building all sorts of things. He thinks Flash was the golden era of User Interface, interaction, animation, and immersive user experience design. He’s a true champion for the users, a builder of products, a magician with a pen and paper, surgical with a keyboard and mouse, a student of business, and a lover of fruits.

How did you get into coding and designing?

Wow. This is a tough question to answer because it all started long ago when I was a young lad/pickney. Yes, I am from the Caribbean and part Irish. It has been a journey. But looking back on my life, there have been a few things that have been ever-present even from a very young age. Creativity and artistic ability, being good with numbers, and a hunger for knowledge, learning and building things.

I would sit and draw or create things for hours. At a young age, I won a lot of art contests, scholarships and invitations to art schools. When it came to numbers and math, I remember one of my early teachers telling my mom, “he is done with everything, we have nothing to give him, so we just let him draw”. I would take things apart to either fix or figure out how they worked and then rebuild them. I read all of encyclopedia Britannica, fascinated by the information captured in these books. Yes. This was pre-Internet, and it took me a while to read these because I would have to look up every other word in the dictionary. Hey, I was like 8 years old, cut me some slack (no copy-right infringement intended), but I read through them. And all these abilities and characteristics have followed me through my life.

However, if I had to choose some distinct points that put me on a path to coding and design I would say:

  1. In primary school, learning that you could control things on the computer through DOS commands.
  2. Watching Star Wars. Then seeing a documentary on how some of it was made using computers.
  3. Watching some reruns of Walt Disney at a young age, as he explained how Disney made things come to life through animation.

Granted I did not have an actual computer until late into my teens, the initial exposure of watching things on TV, seeing the improvements in technology and realizing its potential, was very influential early on.

What do you love about what you do?

Having an idea, designing it, building it and seeing it come to life is amazing. I love the complexity that comes with building creative, functional, beautiful, intuitive solutions. It’s a major challenge to create something from scratch or figure out how to put the pieces together and have them work to solve the problems for the users, product and business. But it’s that complexity and challenge that keep me going.

What is your go-to resource when you are stuck on a problem or need guidance?

I have several resources depending on what I am working on and it really depends on the problem, but here are some examples:

Design:

  1. Dribbble
  2. CollectiveUI
  3. LandBook
  4. MobbinUI
  5. Muzli
  6. PageFlows
  7. Smashing Mag
  8. Nilsen Group
  9. Interaction Design Foundation
  10. Usability Geeks
  11. Refer back to books I’ve read
  12. Ask a friend

Code:

  1. Docs for whatever software I am using
  2. Github: look through the source and see if I can find what I need
  3. CodeSandbox / CodePen / JSBin /JSFiddle. I use codeSandbox and Codepen a lot to build subsets of things and to prototype stuff. They are great tools.
  4. StackOverflow (sometimes…it’s hit or miss)
  5. FrontendMasters
  6. EggHead
  7. Refer back to books I’ve read
  8. Ask a friend

Like I said, I have a lot of resources I read and use. There is no one shoe fits all resource.

Who in the industry do you admire?

That list would be too long for this article. There are many people I admire in this industry and all for different reasons. Some for their uniqueness, creativity, technical ability, activism around certain topics, positivity, community support and volunteering to name a few. It took me some time, but I have been fortunate to have met some really spectacular people.

However, two people that really get my creative blood boiling because they are always posting pure awesomeness are Joshua Oluwagbemiga and Sarah Drasner.

And since we are here I would like to also like to thank a few people, Charles Lowell, Brandon Hays, Yehuda Katz, Leah Silber, Joe Beda, Kelsey Hightower, Chris Thoburn, Bryan Liles, Luke Melia, Kris Selden, Alex Matchneer, Rob Jackson, Jeffrey Cherewaty, Ed Faulkner, Byran Langslet, Dan Gebhardt, Jen Weber, Nicole Sullivan and the Echobind fam. There are so many people I could literally write a post just thanking folks. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to be successful.

What is your favorite podcast?

Truthfully, I do not have a favorite podcast. I consume to all sorts of different content on varying media. But to give you some examples, the Futur, Adobe Live, Joe Rogan, Producer Grind, Syntax and Investor Podcast would be a few. What usually happens is I see a post, tweet, or notification about a topic that I am interested in and then I will go to the podcast or whatever platform to listen to that content.

Are there any technologies or frameworks coming out that you are excited to use?

It’s difficult to keep up with all the newly released hotness and I believe all of these are already released.

  1. Swift UI. From what I have seen, the type of design, interaction and code you can build looks pretty exciting.
  2. Invision Studio.
  3. Adobe XD
  4. WebFlow
  5. Framer Motion
  6. ProtoPie
  7. AE → Bodymovin → Lottie

What have you built or created that you are most proud of?

I build and design a lot of things, but one big accomplishment I made was an interactive IOT game that had hardware and software components. I had to design the UI/UX, build the hardware using some micro-controllers, and build the game logic.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into coding or designing?

Listen to your heart and gut. Everyone has an opinion on “what is the best X” or “you should learn Y”, but it may not be right for you. You can make a path doing what you like to do. There is a lane for everyone. There are so many different things you can do in this industry. If you like UI, do that. If you like CSS, do that. Interaction Design, Javascript, C++, GraphQL, Node, Ruby, Ember, React, Angular, Vue, Animations, Illustrations, Devops, Branding, User Experience Design, User experience Engineering, Frontend, Backend, Full-stack, or whatever. You have options, so look at all of your available options, and pick whatever combination vibes with you.

Lastly, go out and network and talk to people. Keep note of those interactions that went well and the people that are willing to help and answer your questions. Those are the people who will be able to observe your personality, skills, and interests and give you objective, sound advice to help guide you.

What do you enjoy doing that is not work related?

Outside of work my hobbies include watching movies, riding motorcycles, exercising, practicing mixed martial arts, making music, photography, film making, construction, speed painting, concept art, CGI, and working on my car or motorcycle.

What is your morning routine like?

I try to do a 25 minute workout, eat breakfast, drink some herbal tea (a cup of green tea), shower, then start work, read emails, set some todos for the day, and then it’s time to get into the full swing of the work day. Pretty simple.