As part of the recruiting team at DVERSE Inc. I’d like to introduce our team members. Part 2 of our interview series will focus on Ryan Neil, EVP, Media Relations and PR, Brand Management at DVERSE Inc.
“I want to build a creative and exciting brand that gives people the feeling that they can create anything in VR.”
– Can you tell me a bit about your personal history before you started working at DVERSE Inc.?
While in architecture school from 2007-2009 I started working as a freelance graphic designer. The majority of my work involved web design and front-end coding along with SEO optimisation. I also designed flyers, leaflets and brochures for local businesses.
In 2009, I left architecture school and worked full-time as a freelance graphic designer until autumn of 2010 when I moved to the U.K. to study at the University of Brighton. Although the focus of my studies was graphic design, I also actively participated in workshops and lectures for 3D design and architecture. During my studies I continued my freelance design work while building and exhibiting work in exhibitions related to 3D design, graphic design, and other forms of design and research.
– What workshops and competitions did you participate in? And What did you learn from your experiences?
I actively sought out and participated in various workshops regardless of whether or not they were related to my course. For example, one of the summer workshops I attended was an introduction to woodworking techniques such as steam bending and joinery. In London, I participated in a workshop and subsequent exhibition with a group of artists exploring ideas on designing spaces for isolated environments. I also joined a 24 hour hackathon with a group of designers with the objective of visualising data related to the London Olympics.
Although the subject of my course was graphic design, I enjoyed learning and participating in other fields of design and research and applying those experiences to my work as a graphic designer.
– What did you do after graduating from the University of Brighton?
Soon after graduation my coursemates and I held a group exhibition in an unused car park in west London. After that I joined a mid-size architecture firm in London as an intern for 3-4 months. I created proposal documents, made 3D models, and produced CAD floor plans and elevations. The architecture firm offered me a full-time position after my internship, but we were unable to sort out my working visa before it expired, and I decided to leave the U.K. and move to Japan.
I spent three months in Japan at the end of 2013 doing freelance graphic design work and creating floor plans for mobile phone shops. The experience of living in Japan made a strong impact on me. After three months in Japan I went back to the U.S. and plotted my return. I eventually arrived back in Japan during the summer of 2014 and lived in capsule hotels for three months while doing freelance graphic design work and searching for a visa sponsor.
– What did you do when you came back to Japan?
A Japanese creative director I’d met on a previous trip to Japan was planning to start a creative agency. I joined as art director and worked on projects for a lens maker, auto makers, airlines, and local Japanese cities on everying from planning and art directing advertising campaigns to designing new product leaflets. The creative director I worked for had a broad network with many different clients from within Japan and abroad, and as such I gained valuable experience. Eventually I started receiving a significant amount of requests for freelance work, and decided to leave and work on my own during the spring of 2017.
– What were your team members like at the creative agency?
Actually, we were only two, the creative director and myself. It was challenging because I had to spend a lot of time doing many things unrelated to design such as planning, scheduling, managing production companies, and editing copywriting. It was a valuable experience as I learned things related to business, management, and PR that I would have never done as a graphic designer.
– Is there a particular type of work you enjoy most, design or otherwise?
Actually I still love to design spaces, and I’ve come to enjoy making short films as well. I’m the type of person that likes to throw myself into new and unfamiliar subjects. Occasionally that results in a period of doubt and regret as I force myself to publish an initial project that I’m not entirely comfortable with, but this approach never fails to broaden my understanding of communication and different working processes.
– Why do you think it’s important to experience different design disciplines?
I believe that different experiences broaden our perspective, and working with various media increases our understanding of communication at a more fundamental level. Sometimes it’s necessary to consider the most suitable media to relay a given message and that experience allows me to make more informed decisions, particularly when working with small companies with a relatively low budget that needs to be effectively utilised.
– Why did you decide to join DVERSE Inc.?
While working as a freelancer, a producer that I had previously worked with contacted me and asked me if I’d be interested in meeting the CEO of DVERSE Inc. I didn’t know anything about the company, and I really didn’t know much about VR. After listening to the CEO talk about VR software and his vision to utilise VR as an architecture and design tool I was fascinated, and thought that with my experience and capabilities I’d be a perfect fit for this company.
– What was your first impression of the CEO, Shogo Numakura?
He was very calm, and listened patiently as I discussed my work and my background. Before meeting Shogo I had assumed that as a CEO he’d be more remote and calculating, but he was very down to earth and casual. We of course discussed VR and the future of VR as a business tool, but he also asked me a lot of personal questions about what I did in my free time, what kind of games I played, what I watched and read, etc. I realised that Shogo is the kind of leader that cherishes the soul of a person rather than a list of abilities and accomplishments, and as such I decided that he was the kind of leader I would be glad to work with.
– What is your opinion of SYMMETRY alpha from the perspective of a designer?
The first time I tried SYMMETRY alpha, during my interview with the CEO, I immediately understood the value of it. In the past I’d spent a brief period of time working in an architecture office in addition to my work in interior and event space design, and as is commonplace we shared our designs on a 2D screen. As an architect or designer your experience gives you insight into how a space will work at scale before it’s built, but most clients don’t have that experience and as such they find it very difficult to understand the height of a roof, the spaces between furniture, or the lighting of a room from just looking at a design on a screen. Even when creating beautiful photo-realistic 3D renderings they’re still viewed on a screen, leaving the viewer to imagine the scale of a space without fully understanding it. At the very least, VR allows architects and designers to view a 3D space in 3D, which in my opinion is the most important technological advancement for designing spaces.
– What do you do for DVERSE Inc.?
I joined the company to build a global brand and help expand abroad. DVERSE Inc. is a startup, which means that each person has to wear multiple hats. My focus is on brand management, which involves creating a particular image for the company in terms of messaging and visuals, and I also manage events and media relations outside of Japan.
– What type of people do you want to work with?
As a designer, it’s important not to take criticism and feedback of your work personally. We are all professionals, and we all have the same goal of building an exciting product that sells. I want to build a creative and exciting brand that gives people the feeling that they can create anything in VR. In order to do so we need to create an uplifting and challenging environment whereby we can all grow together with the product.
– What are your plans for the future?
There are still many things I’d like to learn, things I’d like to do, places I’d like to go. Eventually I’d like to build my own company, and perhaps even manage a few bed and breakfast type lodgings in the Japanese countryside. I’d also like to continue the research I began in university into urban design and designing spaces in isolated environments, and I’d really like to get a license to practice architecture. For now, my focus is on building a great brand and enjoying the first blossoms of Spring.
Finally, please do feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to experience SYMMETRY alpha. If you’re thinking you’d like to contribute to building a great product for VR, let us know!