The Tale of a Kid Who Loved Dinosaurs

How I transitioned from dinosaur enthusiasm to design, then to digital/front-end development, and back to design. This is my journey and highlights the value of ongoing learning, adaptability, and diverse experiences for career growth. Curiosity, passion, and perseverance are essential for success.

The Tale of a Kid Who Loved Dinosaurs

I’ve been reading articles (as we all) for quite a while now and it has been helping me in my professional and personal life in many aspects. I never did my part and tried to contribute with content though… Mainly because I’m frequently questioning myself and what I’m doing with my life - and getting stuck in that loop.

A few months ago though, I felt a little change in my mentality. Maybe because I lack the time to have everything “perfect” or maybe because I’m getting older and I feel that I need to have more things to show and tell, or maybe because I was getting bored. Who knows?

Writing “something” has been on my to-do list for a long time. So today I’ve decided to change that. And since context is king I’ve decided to start by introducing myself, so… here we go.

A picture of me smiling when I was a kid with a towel on my head like a turban
This is the little me, probably with 4y old

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Oh, hi reader!

I’m André and I’m a multidisciplinary designer from a city called Setúbal, in Portugal, and ever since I was a little kid that I’ve enjoyed drawing and playing with spaceships built of pens and mixing them with lego and play dough (kind of a weird mix though, right?). What I didn’t know was that I wanted to work with creativity — I believe a kid doesn’t even know what that means.

At that time I remember watching Jurassic Park and being in awe with that movie. So I decided that I wanted to be like Dr. Alan Grant and travel the world looking for fossils. I wanted to be a Paleontologist!

Nobody knew what that was, so I was a bit of a geek… And I was a little too young to work so I started by doing what I knew best: drawings.

A GIF of Dr. Alan Grant from the movie Jurassic Park removing his glasses when he first saw a dinosaur
“You want to be what!?” — everyone’s reaction to what I said

The day that dream changed

That dream lasted for a while. I was, maybe, 11 years old when I saw a TV show called Overhaulin — a show where they would “steal” a car and then they would deliver it again totally restored because the owners couldn’t afford it.

In this show, a man called Chip Foose would draw the final look of the car with the help of a handful of markers, some pencils and brushes… And it was incredible! I wanted to do what that man was doing! The next step was to understand what it was! “I can’t draw cars for a living… Can I !?” Apparently, you can!

I found out that he was a Designer so… I was going to be a Designer! Not “just” a designer though. I’m going to be a Designer at Lamborghini! I was going to draw cars for a living!

A picture of two cars I drew when I was a kid—one of them for my mother
Some of the drawings I did when I was 11y (the red one was for my mum)

The bigger the dream…

At this stage, people were used to say that I was dreaming very big, and that I should aim lower. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall!”.

I’m stubborn… I didn’t care what they were saying! I’m going to aim for the moon… If I miss, I’m among the stars! (There’s going to be a motivational phrase like this in a wall somewhere, and you know it!).

Little did I know, at that moment, that the saying is more like “the higher you dream, the harder the grind!”

Everyone is a startup

I followed my dream of being a designer through high school and went to Design in college only to find out that things were changing. Everything was turning digital. So I pivoted… like startups do. I no longer wanted to draw cars. I wanted to be digital as well! I wanted to design for the web. As my focus changed, I also started thinking that, if I wanted to be better, I had to step up the game! I needed to learn more!

So I enrolled in a Front End development course and started learning how to code — I also started working as a designer at this moment. Then I took another course. And another. And learned by experience, by making mistakes, by accepting challenges and trying different things. By working. A lot! We have to be in constant evolution in this ever evolving world.

The choice is yours, so choose and find out how deep the rabbit hole goes

A few years have gone by and I’m currently working as a designer again, after being a frontend developer for a few years. I feel like I was walking on a road and decided to take sort of a secondary path, which was supposed to merge again with the primary one, eventually, but that path was getting very long. And, even though it was sort of a parallel path, where I could even glance at the primary road, behind some bushes and trees, I decided that I’d rather be doing what I enjoy the most and what I think I am better at doing. I learned a lot (people even used to say that I was good at it, the coding stuff, imagine that!), and there was a lot more to be learned — I worked with some of the best developers I know, and that has helped me through my career — but I had the opportunity to get back to the primary road I had primarily chosen and I took it! I didn’t stop solving problems the entire time, I was just solving them in another way.

The important thing that I missed

Well… I misinterpreted the whole thing!

Dr. Alan Grant didn’t find dinosaurs, he studied the history of life — so I learned to study, comprehend and justify my choices.

Chip Foose wasn’t designing cars, he was passing people’s dreams into paper — so I learned that an image is powerful and can have a lot of power.

I didn’t just want to “make things” for the web, I wanted to help people — so I learned to be creative while solving people’s problems. I learned what it means to be a designer.

I didn’t “spend time” learning how to code, I found a new way to solve those same problems — so I learned to be methodic and organised. I learned to be a developer.

All our experiences make us grow and make us better at what we are as a professional.

I learned that I’m not the best at everything — or will I ever be. There are a lot of people that can help you improve. That’s why we should all be learning new things, trying to improve what we do and what we are and challenge ourselves. We can learn from everyone, from everywhere. We can try to help everyone.

Stay curious. Keep on learning. Keep on researching and improving. Stay passionate, and go get it!

That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading it all! Feel free to share your thoughts!

You can also find me on dribbble, behance and Instagram.

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