Making of a UX designer

In the fall of 2022 I began studying UX Design at IT-högskolan. The field was new to me and I did my best to navigate the concepts, methods and nomenclatures. I wished I could talk to people who were just a bit further along than I – ask them what I should focus on, what I shouldn’t stress about, and how their careers had turned out.

I did run into a whole bunch of nice people at school, at meetups and other professional forums, but I would have liked the info available in one place, and I wish I had a map of the terrain ahead. I don’t have a mentor in the field, so finding others who are ahead of me seemed like the next best thing.

This project was born out of a hope that perhaps those that come after me can benefit from the experience of myself and my classmates. I did an open call to my class of UX22 at ITHS and asked to interview as many as possible after our first year of school. My plan is to follow this up three years after our graduation, and then three years after that – in 2027 & 2030.

Out of my class of 30 odd people, I got 11 to volunteer, and I’d like to thank them all for entrusting me with their time and thoughts. The interviews are in Swedish, but the videos have English auto-translated subs (in addition to manually translated Swedish) so I hope that they can be useful for others outside of Sweden.

The questions I asked each one were the same, but I did edit the thing for brevity and omitted some of the answers. I’ve pasted all the questions below:

  • Who are you and what’s your background?
  • Describe UX Design to someone who doesn’t know.
  • What distinguishes a good UX Designer?
  • What makes you a good UX designer?
  • Why did you decide to study UX Design?
    • What was appealing about it?
    • Is it still appealing?
    • Has your understanding of what UX Design is changed?
  • Describe something you’re are proud of during your first year.
  • What has been challenging in your first year?
  • If you could advise yourself before you began studying, what would you say?
  • What would you like to work with after graduation?
  • Is there anything you’d rather not work with?
  • Describe a typical workday in spring 2027.
    • How will you get there?

I hope these interviews provide some insights and encouragement to others who are just starting out on their UX design journey. It’s been interesting to speak with my classmates and document their thoughts and ambitions at this early stage of our careers. I look forward to continuing the conversation and documenting how our perspectives evolve over time.

I welcome any feedback on this project or suggestions for future iterations. Please feel free to leave a comment below or get in touch – I’d love to hear from you: emaillinkedin

Thanks for joining me on this small attempt to map the unknown terrain ahead!

Watching movies #2

Continuing with the “lets post old stuff instead of new stuff” here’s a post I started in 2018 when I had ambitions on doing short movies.

I first read Catch 22 when I was studying in Karlstad, and remember laughing a lot. Watching the movie movie (adapted by Buck Henry) was less amusing – the absurdist and dark moments were few and too much humour was attempted through gags and goofiness. Watching pre-CGI movies is inspiring though, all the effects are done on camera or through mattes, and it gives a different sense of solidity to it. An explosion isn’t as in-your-face and overdone (or the actors might get blown up for real) and the planes dissolving into the horizon through a heat haze is an artifact of a really long lens. Is this what sentimentality feels like?

Three Days of the Condor (Lorenzo Semple Jr.) is a CIA within the CIA story – compared to modern spook stories (Tinker, tailor, soldier spy) the pacing is much different, and except a jarring Stockholm syndrome love scene the movie is placid, in contrast to the murders and drama depicted.

The decline of Western Civilization part I (Penelope Spheeris) is a raw look at the 1980 LA punk scene. Interviews with punks, bands and hangers-on are mixed with both good and awful performances – more than half the movie are performances, which serves as a time capsule for the music but drags the documentary down.

I’m also trying to immerse myself more in the movie-making lingo, gobbling up books and blogs and podcasts. It seems that North Americans get self-promotion at the teet, so it’s no wonder that the most vocal and easy-to-find publications are from the States. The often fake joviality and peppy demeanour rubs me the wrong way though and distracts from the content – whoever taught people to smile when talking into a microphone has much to answer for.

Noam Kroll has some good essays and listicles on his site which ring true. 126 lessons on independent film directing is one such list, and it’s worthwhile to revisit and think on some of the points when you’re stuck somewhere. The takeaway is “always keep working” which is pretty much in line with what I’ve seen of my peers who’ve gone on to become successful. I like his “work with what you have” approach, and I need to be reminded of it now that I’ve spent too much time and money on lenses for my Nikon: Until I’ve shot two more shorts I’m prohibiting myself from buying any more camera gear – just yesterday I caught myself just before clicking “order” on a discounted MF macro, so “shopping as procrastination” is a trap for me.

Making movies!

I took two months vacation this summer and spent most of the time in glorious idleness – swimming in the ocean, catching up on reading, drinking a lot of beer. In August we left for a short trip to Poland for a family reunion on my fathers side, and I got to drive in Poland for the first time – something I dreaded more than I care to admit.

The last week was spent filming and editing a short video for a competition. I’m better motivated to solve problems rather than fulfilling my own projects, so I threw myself at it with gusto – enlisting the help of Sara to write the script and Emma-Kara and Benjamin for acting. We shot it with no rehearsal in an hour and a half. I’m happy with how it turned out – I’m especially proud of the sound which was completely done in post – but looking at it now I can see a bunch of stuff I’d like to do better. I guess there’s a reason why there are so many people on movie sets.

So it appears that I’m now trying to become an “indie filmmaker”. I’m reading books on acting, writing and producing, watch masterclasses and youtubes of varying quality, and buying a shitload of equipment I’ll have to justify owning. A 7kg panning video tripod is nice, but do I actually need it? The obvious answer is yes, yes of course I need it because I’m an indie movie making person now.

As always when I’m into something, it turns into a slight obsession and with that I tend to spend money with abandon.

Right now I’m reading Syd Fields The definitive guide to screenwriting and it’s interesting to peek behind the curtains of Hollywood movie production. I’ve stumbled upon many of the terms before – character arc, plot points, act I II III – but never read much about it. Syd has some practical advice to give in the book, and I’m definitely watching movies with a more critical eye thanks to it. The book is littered with arbitrary and poor metaphors, and occasionally he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next, but it’s still a worthwhile read – especially to get a glimpse of how big studio scripts (and movies) come into being.

I’m going to try my hand at a few more competitions, using them as an external motivator and yardstick. I have no ambitions past entertaining myself and my friends, but it would be fun to see a few projects through to completion, and challenging oneself is always a learning experience – I mean, if you never jump into the deep end you won’t know how tall you are, right?

Racist, Fascist, Nationalist, whatever

När jag i veckan skrev en krönika om de tafsande invandrarkillarna och klargjorde hur det stod till med invandrares brottslighet, så kröp rasister och smygrasister fram ur sina hålor. Uppenbarligen fick det inte vara så som jag skrev, att 99,9 procent av landets första- och andra generations invandrare inte sitter inlåsta i fängelser, häkten eller på ungdomshem på grund av brottslighet. Så låt mig redogöra för mina siffror, och några till.

→ Para§raf, Dick Sundevall: Rasisterna kröp fram ur sina hålor

– Är det något jag tänker på är det just det – att vi sverigedemokrater fortfarande betraktas som paria, som en sämre sorts människor man kan bete sig hursomhelst mot. Jag kommer aldrig glömma när min sons förskollärare kallade mig ”nazist”. Det och det faktum att min allra bästa vän sa upp kontakten med mig förra året, det är två händelser som har satt såriga spår.

→ Dagens Nyheter, Ulrika By: SD:s toppnamn: ”Bussa Stockholmselever för att motverka segregationen”

Sverigedemokraternas första partiledare ­Anders Klarström hade sin bakgrund i Nordiska rikspartiet. Klarström dömdes för att ha ringt upp tv-stjärnan Hagge Geigert och skrikit: ”Vi ska bränna dig ditt jävla judesvin. Fy fan, ditt äckliga lilla judesvin. Passa dig! Vi ska komma och döda dig!” Patrik Ehn gjorde samma resa som Klarström. Ehn gick med i SD 1988. När han pluggade till SO-lärare vid Uppsala universitet under 90-­talet bytte han parti till Centern men uteslöts och återkom till SD.

→, Björn af Kleen: Den nya högern – ett eko från 1930-talet

For all their bleating about freedom of speech, these people don’t seem to know what it actually means. It is not the glorious, consequence-free paradise they imagine in which they get to say whatever they like to whomever they like while enjoying the luxury of that person silently taking it with no pushback. For too long, speech on the internet has been consequence free. It has mainly served to support abusive trolls who, despite the frequency with which they appear to be pictured with families, seem to have nothing better to do than stalk women online to try and scare them into shutting up.

→ Daily Life – Clementine Ford – Why I reported hotel supervisor Michael Nolan’s abusive comment to his employer

And returning to the course

So, the “Drawing with a chainsaw” course went well. Together with the course participants we worked through the weekend and produced some big prints. It’s fun to work on such a large scale, but quite exhausting to ink full sized plywood sheets.

Apart from DWACS the rest of spring, summer and fall has passed by like so many blurry trees seen from a tram window. I don’t know what happened, but it feels as though I spaced out for a while. I’ve been trying to learn some chemistry, I have my first steady job ever, and this winter is supposed to be dedicated to biology and some electronics projects.

I took a course called biology for philosophers at the uni – I love how higher education is free in this country – and have been dillentanting my way through biology books, trying to learn how to use the microscope and do stains and PCR and such. I’m learning a lot but not producing much – I lack a context in which to work, and since I don’t have an inner auteur which needs expressing there isn’t an impulse to create stuff.

Maybe part of my apathy is the political climate of Sweden. The third largest political party in Sweden is a racist one, and they’ve gotten free reigns to set the framework of public discourse for the past years. A while back I complained that instead of dealing with issues of global solidarity, women rights and global warming, we’ve now set the clock back far enough that we’re facing the reemergence of fascism. It’s utterly depressing and I don’t know what to do about it. I guess what I ought not to do is just whine…

Staying the course

Together with Eric Saline I’m holding a course at KKV GBG in less than a months time. It’s called Drawing with a chainsaw and we’re going to do huge relief prints using non-traditional tools. Like for example, chainsaws. We’re cutting the boards here in Gothenburg, and then we’re trucking them up to KKV Bohuslän where we’ll use their giant press to make the prints – ought to be exciting! I made a video for this, and since it’s done on company time I can’t very well use it in lieu of my own projects here on the blog, but whatevs.

Fucking Werewolf Asso at Musikens Hus, March 2015

The video above is last weeks project – an edited version of the video I shot at Fucking Werewolf Asso’s gig at Musikens Hus a couple of weeks ago. It’s not my tightest edit, and the audio quality is so-so considering I used the built in microphones, but I figure one has to support good local bands so there you go.

FWA has changed their sound a bit lately. They’ve gone from being a drummy 8bit screamfest, to a more mainstream hardcore band. As far as hardcore music goes they’re quite good, and the keyboard blipblop is still there (albeit drown out by a constant guitar) so it’s still fun to listen to, but some of the more playful stuff is missing. I might be damaged from listening to the earlier stuff too much, but I do hope that they continue to experiment and get the audience and recognition they deserve.

Project week 3: A gift

Audience at a gig of Fucking Werewolf Asso in March 2015, at Musikens hus Göteborg

I’m rediscovering the joys and perils of video editing. At work, I did en edit of the woodwork course I participated in last weekend (Take a look here: and shot a promo for Drawing with a chainsaw, a course I’m offering with Eric Saline where we still need to rustle up more participants. (That edit isn’t done yet)

Privately, I went to a gig with Fucking Werewolf Asso and tried out my new Nikon P7800 and was reminded of the value of external microphones; I used only the built in ones, and it’s inadvisable to stand in front of PA speakers if you can’t set levels manually. I’d hoped that I’d have a video done by tonights deadline, but alas. Ought to be done this week though, so although delayed I’m still doing something else for next Monday.

I’ve never been one for good timing when it comes to my projects, but I really should get the drone promo done before the discussion about the Swedish-Saudi weapon deals dies down completely. Not that the deals with Saudi Arabia are much more offensive than the ones we have with other dictatorships, but still. So although timing has never been my forte I should give it a shot – after all, mine is a project about the democratic control over technology, and it’s rather fitting that I slot that into the tail-end of the discussion of selling surveillance equipment and clandestine weapon factory projects.

Lanzarote, the big empty

Two weeks past without me doing a Sunday project. So in the quilt of productivity those were two dropped stitches. The first week was a diseased week, with wheezing and snotting and whining, and the second week was spent on Lanzarote, one of the Canary islands, with Sara. It was based entirely on a “oh my god I need sun” line of reasoning, and we found a cheap trip to Puerto del Carmen.

It’s a beautiful landscape, and if only we’d have activities planned, we wouldn’t have noticed that the island is a soulless limbo (or purgatory, we couldn’t agree). My thoughts returned again and again to J.G.Ballard and the many incarnations of Vermilion Sands in his short stories. Even though it’s not a carbon copy of the place, the ambiance of the island is one of a movie backdrop, with very little reality propping it up.

On our last evening we ate at a Polish-Irish restaurant (with North African and Indian cuisine) and the proprietor had moved there 13 years earlier. How she likes it? “It’s very easy living.” The roads are good, landscape beautiful, and the streets very clean. It’s also vacuous and streamlined for handling 5.5 milion tourist a year.

The video was actually edited and posted to Vimeo in time for the deadline, but I just didn’t have it in me to do a writeup. Next Sunday is still on though, and I’m working on another sound work based on the noises recorded from Lanzarote, similar to the three-sound doodle I use in the intro here. Perhaps on the theme of being a windblown traveller.

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Fortunately, the sun continued to shine through the numerous ozone windows and the hottest summer of the century was widely forecast. The determination of the exiles never to return to their offices and factories was underpinned by a new philosophy of leisure and a sense of what constituted a worthwhile life. The logic of the annual beach holiday, which had sustained Europe since the Second World War, had merely been taken to its conclusion. Crime and delinquency were nonexistent and the social and racial tolerance of those reclining in adjacent poolside chairs was virtually infinite.

→ Ballard, J. G: “The Largest Theme Park in the World”

Performative lying

What with all the surveillance-state bonanza going on, and a general feeling of unease and fear of shadows, I figure that now would be a good time to finish the video below. It’s a monologue on my experience as a doorman at various events. The premise is that I take a few minutes out of every hour and pretend to be a doorman. Very meta, but there are some valid points there; the main one is “don’t trust your instincts to obey”.

The original HD source files are lost — or they’re just hiding on one of the drives somewhere — but with the 2000-isch look I thought the SD video looks fine. Seeing as “good taste” is so easily acquired and/or faked, we might as well go for the “æsthetics of arbitrariness” as a valid expression.

Since I’m writing this in English, you’d think that I’d taken the time to subtitle the video, but as always I’m doing this at the last second and so the subtitling will have to wait. I’ll still count this as a win on the “do one thing a week” list though!

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