I was invited to join Dribbble on January 19, 2010 by Phil Coffman. The pitch was simple: show and tell for designers and developers. Initially closed to the public, this nascent community of creative professionals allowed access to view and publish content via invitation only.
In an interview in the inaugural issue of Offscreen Magazine, designer and Dribbble co-founder Dan Cederholm discussed how this strategy not only helped to keep support and scaling costs to a minimum, but also ensured the quality of the content. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Dribbble was a closed community of creative professionals who shared, critiqued, and learned from one another.
Around the same time I became a full-time freelancer, Dribbble opened its doors to the public. Though the ability to post “shots” was still limited to those who had been invited to do so, anyone could come and view the work that was being posted. While this change in paradigm upset those who enjoyed Dribbble’s private nature, it also gave designers, illustrators, and other creative professionals a simple way to promote their work to a larger audience.
Later that year, I received my first recruitment call from Aol. Having seen the work I was posting on Dribbble, their recruiter reached out and invited me to Palo Alto for a 3-day job interview. Though that job didn’t pan out, a year later it led to my introduction to Danny Robinson, CEO of Perch, who would end up hiring me for my first startup job. It was this opportunity that allowed me to move cross-country from small-town Ontario to the city of Vancouver, British Columbia.
In 2011, I attended my first Dribbble meetup in Brooklyn, New York. Held during that year’s Brooklyn Beta conference, the meetup was my opportunity to meet people like Drew Wilson and Jonathan Christopher, as well as Mr. Cederholm himself. It was one of my first opportunities to finally meet people I’d looked up to from afar. Dan especially was incredibly kind and generous, a quality he’s continued to show in his interactions with people who participate in the Dribbble community.
When I was hired as the Design Director at Brewhouse, I encouraged the team to sign up for Dribbble. It was during this time that I got to meet the world-famous Meg Robichaud, whom I would later contract to design the iconography for the Mountain Conditions Report app for Arc’teryx.
Last night, I attended my second Dribbble meetup, this one hosted by the folks at Metalab, a Victoria, BC-based design agency who in the last year or so have opened a beautiful new office in downtown Vancouver.
After writing my name on my name tag, I set off to find someone to chat with. Rory and I first crossed paths with an awkward smile and nod as I made my way back to the name tag table to return the Sharpie I had stolen, but on our second pass made eye contact and struck up a proper conversation. Rory is a Scottish product designer who just recently came to Vancouver following a two-year stint in Australia. He currently works for a remote product team building email marketing software. Rory and I were joined by my friend and occasional collaborator Allen Pike, co-founder of Steamclock Software and creator of Party Monster, a DJ app that refuses to play Nickleback.
As the night progressed, I got to chat with Jonas Caruana, an athlete and entrepreneur, Mearl Morton, an illustrator and print designer, Eliza Sarobhasa, a developer, project management student, and photographer, and friend and colleague Kenny Grant, whose company just launched a helpful tool for previewing how links will look when shared across multiple social media and mobile chat platforms called Lookout.
After 8 years, I still find myself in awe of the people who make up the Dribbble community. Dribbble, much like Twitter before it and blogging before Twitter, has had a direct and profound impact on my life. I’m so grateful for the community that Dan and Rich started and Andrew and his team continue to steward.