Colorado Creative Series: Rob Howard

Colorado Creatives Series

In support of #AIGAatHome, we have launched the Colorado Creatives Series, an opportunity to celebrate and showcase local creatives in our area. Our Colorado Creatives will share a little about their creative process, some of their most worthwhile investments, current reading lists and more. Enjoy!


Rob Howard



Where can we find you?


How have you adapted your creative process during this time?

Right now, I’m in “keep your head down and do great work” mode. Over the next few months, I’m anticipating shifting into doing new client-outreach and sales, since it’s likely that some of my clients will be hurt by the financial slowdown and need to modify or cancel their contracts. As much as that’s a stressful prospect, I’m thankful that, as a freelancer, I already work from home and am well positioned to be flexible amid the economic changes that are headed our way.

What are you reading, listening to or watching right now?

As little news as possible :-). I think now is a good time for fiction books and other psychological getaways, so I’m starting with all the free, public-domain classics (Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and lots of others) that you can get on gutenberg.org.

What is one piece of advice you can offer to other designers right now?

For the next few weeks (early April), I think we are basically stuck “on pause” when it comes to our businesses. Do the best work you can, but don’t race to change everything. Then over the next month or two, the trajectory of businesses will become clearer so we can start to plan for the future and pivot to new clients or focus areas if necessary.

What are 1-3 designs that have greatly influenced your life?

My two favorite software designers are 37Signals and Nintendo. They both accomplish amazing things with extreme elegance and simplicity, and I try to bring that reductive, “so simple yet so powerful” approach to all my projects, including visual design, interaction design and writing the code itself.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Early in my career, I “founded a startup” that was really successful in terms of its user base but never got off the ground financially. Although it was a “sideways” couple of years for me financially, it ended up being like a graduate degree in software development and server administration, both of which are big selling points in my career today.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Forcing myself to take Fridays off. It is really hard to step out of the “always-on” mentality when you work from home and own your own business (and have clients who want access to you all the time). Deliberately setting boundaries is quite difficult, but totally changes the game in terms of your enjoyment of work when you’re in the office.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

My son and I play an alarming amount of Pokémon.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I got an ad-blocker and content-blocker for my phone and deleted the Facebook app. It’s resulted in lower anxiety and allowed me to read more books, since my alternative is picking up a Kindle instead of killing time on social media.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

If it’s during work hours, I will sometimes just “call it off” for a few hours or for the rest of the day and revisit whatever I am working on with fresh eyes. The goal is to avoid burnout and also remind myself that work is just not as important as my mental health and wellbeing. I also find that physical activities or tasks – taking a long walk, building something, cooking something – are all good ways to re-center and get away from the digital world for a while.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve ramped up my series of free freelancing workshops for the next few months, since many freelancers both have a bit more time on their hands and some urgent goals around staying afloat in times of economic uncertainty. You can grab invitations (and lots more free, recorded workshops) at https://robhoward.co

By AIGA Colorado
Published April 18, 2020
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