For over 12 years I’ve been running my own studio called Studio Umbrella serving a range of clients.
I place a very high importance on uniqueness and high quality of design as well as solid, custom coding and Shopify, Prestashop and Wordpress. I developed my own custom CMS (Content Management System), called Raincoat, which allows my clients to update their sites’ content easily.
In addition to taking on a complete project which involves design & development, I provide other graphic designers with coding services as well as designing websites for a client who already has a developer.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I grew up in San Jose and always had a computer around (this wasn’t commonplace in the 80’s as it is now!), so I got familiar with it early on. When I was 18, I moved to Israel where I started my studies in Computer Science, but I was also very passionate about design which led me to move to Eindhoven in The Netherlands to study Product/Industrial design at the Design Academy.
Throughout my studies, my previous knowledge of Adobe Flash helped me create impressive digital presentations for my 3-dimensional work, as well as creating graphic elements to compliment them. Once completing my studies, I returned to Israel and created a website that would showcase my portfolio while I began searching for a job… I created another one for a my girlfriend... then one for another friend and so on. I soon realized that I really enjoyed combining creativity with technology and I was very good at it too! After a short 3 month job in a design studio, I wanted to be my own boss, found more clients and I’ve been creating websites ever since.
Three years ago, my wife and I moved to Los Angeles. Studio Umbrella has been growing and gaining traction ever since.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
There are 3 main things that I notice others lack: giving good service, responsibility to the project or potential project and professionalism. I’ve had many clients come to me saying how they’ve been burned or disappointed by previous developers who promised one thing and gave another or just developed poor websites in both design and development, or just the overall level of service.
It’s a shame because people don’t know what’s involved and what’s important to look for, so they don’t always choose the suitable designer/developer/agency. Many times their budget guides these decisions, which is understandable, though ultimately a bad choice may cost the client more than planned.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Currently, I’m working on a few Shopify e-commerce online stores, coding a Wordpress website and designing website layouts for another company. I also just finished a cool online “Quote Builder” form for an auto warranty company called ‘Hero Warranty’. It’s an add-on for an existing website which generates leads by sending information to a CRM. I have a full plate, but I’m always looking for more! You can see my work at www.studioumbrella.com (which I have just begun to redesign as well!).
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I like clean and clear designs that are smart, functional and look great. Color is extremely important as well as up-to-date fonts. Earlier in my career, I always tried to create new, out of the ordinary layouts but after the era of responsive design began, more common structures had to be used, yet I still try to make any website unique.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
I would like to be more involved in the entire process of creating a website. Usually a client comes to me with an understanding of what he or she needs and all they need from me is design and/or development. I’d like to offer services that help define the needs of the client, to create the content (copywriting, photography, etc.) and then offer marketing solutions (SEO, social media and digital ads) as well.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Growing the business is tough. I don’t want to continue working on my own and am exploring ways to grow, but at the same time I have to do the work myself and meet the deadlines. I do have a few coders that I outsource to, but not on a constant basis. It’s a balance that is challenging to achieve and it’s frustrating not having more knowledge on how to maneuver and which choices to make.
Also, web development is a very fast-paced field, where new methods, programming languages and platforms constantly appear in the market. Having to keep up with it all takes time but there’s not enough of it!
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Somebody who will do a lot of the coding of the site would make things easier. This would free up some time so that I can focus on growing my business and finding more clients with bigger and better projects. But on the flip side, someone who knows how to bring in more clients would definitely help grow the business as well.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
As I mentioned, I only worked as a product designer in a different studio for 3 months after finishing school and only worked for myself since then. I wish I would have told myself to work in a few different studios/companies in order to gain some experience of how other companies work. Everything I’ve done has been self-taught, which has been great, but I feel that I could have gained more knowledge and experience that way.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Project management (of teams) and business growth including marketing.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I’m looking for almost anything web-related to guide, plan, design and develop. This would be e-commerce online stores, informational & corporate websites and smaller projects like landing pages and mini-sites. I also love creating unique, custom add-ons/plugins to existing sites.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
My ideal project would be for a client that needs me to guide him from A to Z with building a website. This would include formulating the brief/requirements, sitemap, wire-framing, designing, coding and creating the content (copywriting, photography, videography, etc). In a way, it’s like being the producer/director of the site.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
Every project is different so it’s hard to say. Usually a basic website which needs design & development could start at $5,000 but sometimes there are smaller projects such as landing pages or an add-on to a site, which could cost less. Larger projects such as online stores would cost more. I usually speak with the client, understand what they want and need and what their timeframe is and with that I calculate the cost.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Send an email or call! Although definitely not required, it would be great that the client already has details of the project ready to share, including a possible budget so that we all know what is at hand. This saves time and makes everything clear right off the bat.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Photography, absorb lots of music, exercise, gardening and exploring the city
This member profile was originally published in January 2018.