Interview with chekspir

April 24, 2017 guestblogger

You’ve been a member of Topcoder since 2009, but only active since 2014. Why did you get involved only then?
Well I was looking for another source of income and Luis (mahestro) shared some Topcoder pictures on his Facebook page, and then I remembered about the company. So I entered the site (I had to recover the username and password, hehe) to see what work opportunities were available, and I joined a challenge. I won 2nd place in that challenge — and $700 dollars. After that, I joined another one where I only earned $100 for checkpoint. Since then, I have become an addict. I’ve wanted to join every challenge I could but it wasn’t easy; I was working at a company as a front-end developer and my only chance to compete was at night. It has been a process since then.

What languages were you coding in at your job, and what made you chose Topcoder for the long term?
I was working PHP as backend, but I also have some front-end skills such as: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, AngularJs, and libraries like Bootstrap, Foundation, jQuery, etc. I always divide my life into 3 stages:

  1. When I left Venezuela to work in Colombia and start over.
  2. When I got married.
  3. When I quit my Job to be a full-time member at Topcoder.

Before leaving my company, I was feeling stressed about doing the same tasks every single day. I felt like an “Oompa Loompa” and a prisoner of life. When I was in Indonesia for TCO15, I talked with Adam about being a copilot. Then on January 2016, the opportunity was presented, so I took it as the perfect chance to do something new. Topcoder for me has been more than a company; it has been another college, a life-changing experience.

As a new member, I remember you had a fast rise up. One year after joining you had qualified for the TCO15 finals in Indonesia. Any advice for other members/newcomers on how to get to this level so soon?
It was a surprise for me as well. When I got Jessie’s email about TCO, I could not believe it. Honestly I can only speak from my personal experience, as I don’t think I have the level required to give advice; I’m still learning every day. The best way to improve is to be patient and disciplined and join all the challenges you can, even if you don’t know the technology required. I have lost in a lot of challenges — a lot. But I haven’t lost the spirit. For example, I had never designed an iOS application before joining Topcoder. I competed on a couple of iOS design challenges before winning my first one. But I learned a lot in the process. Basically read, research, ask questions, even silly ones; push yourself to the limit.

You are now on the Top 5 designers for LUX and GET (GE Transportation) leaderboards and are working consistently in these types of big challenges. How do you manage to come up with good concepts in a short amount of time and deliver such a polished interface?
I like those kind of challenges a lot. I think they are challenging, and usually are very cool problems to be solved. Those challenges require 2 or 3 days to be completed. So what I do is take the first day to read the specs, ask questions, and research the problem and the solution. Then I start designing on the second day. And to be honest, I always finish the designs just a few hours before the deadline. I don’t know why the best ideas always arrive during high-pressure moments (hehe).

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
It is really hard to say where I will be in 5 years because I’m changing my plans all the time. I like to live one day at a time but also plan the next one. However, I’m pretty sure that I would like to be a dad by that time.

Tell me one aspect of design that you always give high priority.
I always give high priority to the small details. I like pixel-perfect designs. I don’t like when a design is not consistent on small things like font sizes, margins, paddings, the location of elements in the screen, etc. For me, those small elements are really important and make a design stand out.

Which online design magazine do you check daily and what do you like most about it?
I’m a big fan of “Smashing Magazine” — since 6 or 7 years ago. I used to check it almost daily. They have really amazing articles about design in general, front-end coding, advertising, design trends, etc. For inspiration, I like to see what’s new on “Dribbble” and “Behance”. But also, being the husband of a fashion designer, I see a lot of fashion TV shows. Even when it is not my field, I really enjoy watching them. I have learned a lot from her and her favorite TV fashion shows.

What would you tell a friend of yours who has no idea about Topcoder to convince him to join the site in 7 words or fewer?
Want to be free? Join Topcoder.

What is your working motto?
I don’t have a personal motto, but Kari (Mrs. Chekspir) always tells me, “Come on, you can do it! Never give up!”


DaraK

DaraK is an enthusiastic designer, is passionate about improving the customer’s online experience, likes to travel, and learn about other cultures.

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