A Book Apart

Get to know Michael Angeles, Leon Barnard, and Billy Carlson

Jun 20, 2023

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From left to right: Wireframing for Everyone book cover, Michael Angeles smiling and wearing a dark grey baseball cap, Leon Barnard smiling and wearing glasses in front of a grey wall, and Billy Carlson smiling with a short beard.

Up next in our Meet the Author series, we’re getting to know Meet Michael Angeles, Leon Barnard, and Billy Carlson—authors of Wireframing for Everyone. They tell us about where they love to read, what inspires them in the face of self-doubt, and which books they’d like to share with others.

ABA: What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

Michael Angeles: The distractions! My workspace is in the garage and it’s full of creative distractions, from DJ gear to drawers full of art supplies—which encourage me take breaks and disengage from work when I need to. I find that finding flow while doing something other than work helps me process problems subconsciously. Leon once coined a word to describe the way I work, calling it “procastivity.”

Billy Carlson: It’s all mine! It’s quiet and free of distractions. I need this kind of space to myself as a balance to the noisiness of my wonderful home life.

ABA: What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

Michael: I make a Chemex carafe full of coffee, prepare my kiddo’s breakfast and school lunch (if we’re inside the school year), then sit with my wife (with our pup between us), and we talk about our day and sit for morning meditation.

Billy: Sadly, I check Slack and my emails…I should change that.

ABA: In your opinion, what should someone consider before starting out in web design / development?

Leon Barnard: If you want to do web design/dev as a job, focus on the things that stay consistent and invest time and energy there. The key to long-term success isn’t being really good at writing Javascript, it’s being adaptable, easy to work with, and creative when it comes to finding solutions and doing your job as a whole.

ABA: Is there anyone you’re following the work of right now, who you’d recommend others pay attention to?

Billy: I really like the work and talks from Reginé Gilbert. I saw her speak at a conference and her talk had the perfect mix of insights, knowledge sharing, and practical takeaways.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

Michael: I step away from what I’m working on, seek space for a bit (ideally in nature), then come back and try again. I may also go for a run or walk my dog.

Billy: Exercise is my number one go-to—I love doing fitness classes or playing sports to recharge.

ABA: What is your go-to source of inspiration when you’re trying to get out of a creative rut?

Michael: Watching other people talk about their creative process. Casey Neistat’s vlog on YouTube helped me at a time when I was needing to get and stay motivated.

Billy: Music is the gateway to my subconscious. If I’m stuck on something, I listen to classical music and jazz to unlock myself.

ABA: What is a fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?

Billy: So much has changed since we started working in the field—from processes to tools. Even the way design is perceived outside of our industry bubble has transformed. I’ve always felt a push to learn on the job, and more and more I find myself looking to learn from as diverse a range of voices as possible. I just feel grateful to be surrounded by incredible people who consistently help me evolve. I hope I can keep up!

ABA: What characteristic do you most admire in other creative people?

Michael: The ability to be persistent and consistent over long periods of time. Along with that, the ability to do the unexpected and take risks after mastering a craft or style.

Billy: The ability to have absolutely zero f–ks. Putting your work and yourself out there is extremely difficult and I really admire the people who don’t let fear stop them.

ABA: What is a piece of professional or life advice you’ve gotten that has always stuck with you?

Michael: For years, on my wall has hung Corita Kent’s ten rules for the Immaculate Heart College art department. I would read them occasionally as though they were advice from a mentor. After doing several 100 Days projects, I keep returning to Kent’s seventh rule “The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.” I’ve learned that the journey to proficiency is slow, and that shortcuts often come with a cost. To paraphrase, I tell myself,Show up, do the work, be persistent, repeat and improve every day.

ABA: What are you reading right now?

Michael: The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin.

Billy: Inclusive Design Communities by Sameera Kapila.

ABA: What’s the last book you read that you wanted to share with others?

Michael: Billy turned me on to Design Is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton, and I was talking about that a lot before we started writing.

Billy: How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg. I really like to read about psychology, economics, and logic. Understanding why we do what we do, and what motivates us, is really interesting to me. Also, The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman. I loved reliving and relearning what was happening around me as I was growing up.

ABA: If you could write a book in any genres, what would it be?

Michael: Science fiction. I love watching and reading science fiction. I imagine that immersing yourself in the research to write a sci-fi book would be a great way to spend your days.

Billy: Nonfiction or biography. I love learning about how something came to be, or the excavating the details of a world event. I would like to spend time doing deep research into a fascinating piece of history, and then share it in an engaging way.

ABA: What’s your favorite place to read?

Michael: My favorite place to be read to (I find myself listening to audiobooks these days) is in my neighborhood of Sausalito on the hilly streets and trails where I take walks.

Billy: Out in the backyard, relaxing by the pool.

ABA: What’s in your To Be Read pile?

Michael: Product Management for UX People: From Designing to Thriving in a Product World by Christian Crumlish and Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, et al.

Billy: I used to get my recommendations from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show guests. I miss those, sigh. I am open to suggestions!

Learn more about all our authors—check out the rest of our Meet the Author series!


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