I met Max Luzuriaga at FOWD conference where I spoke in 2010 (New York City). Max first impressed me with his portfolio site which is coded with HTML5 markup, Modernizr, and CSS3 media queries (but according to Max, his site is already "a little out of date"). At age of 15, Max is learning and doing various design and development works (web, icons, Javascript, PHP, iOS, Ruby on Rails, etc.). Max not only impressed me with his skills, but his passion reminds me that I have to keep upgrading myself and learning new things. I hope this interview can motivate more young talents to step into the industry.

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Do you mind telling us your age? What is your current status?

I'm a designer and developer living just outside Philadelphia. I'm 15 years old, and as such am still in school. Because of this, I don't have nearly as much time as I would like to focus on web stuff, but I make do.

2. Your site is nicely done. Did you code and design it yourself? What tools did you use?

Yeah I did! The site is powered by WordPress (with a custom theme, obviously), so I wrote it in PHP. Both the design and back-end of this site is a little out of date, and I'm (as always) starting to redesign it, so please don't think that its current state is indicative of my current abilities, it's not.

As far as tools, I used Photoshop primarily for the design elements, and wrote all the code in my editor of choice, Textmate.

Max Luzuriaga site

3. You have quite a lot of done in your portfolio. Have you done any client work?

I have done some client work, but to be honest, it's all pretty much out of date with my current skillset (which I hope is always improving), so I try not to display it that much. As a result, I chose to have the work on my portfolio just be a feed of my shots on Dribbble, which always shows my most up-to-date stuff, including personal projects. At some point I want to add a real work page to my site, but for now that's okay.


4. What are your current focuses?

I've been learning a lot about iPhone App development, and I'm currently working on my own iPhone App! I've never really done this kind of UI design before, so it's been a real adventure so far. To be honest, it's liberating being able to work on a project that will look the same for all its users, unlike most web projects where you have to contend with many, many different browsers and devices. This has also been my first foray into development with a compiled language (Objective-C), and that has been a challenge, but a good challenge.

There's so many things I want to learn, but so few hours in each day! Icon design has also been something I want to more of, and illustration is one of those things that I always wanted to try my hand at.


5. Who or what inspired you to get into industry? Where do you learn all your skill sets (Photoshop, Illustrator, CSS, Ruby on Rails, PHP, SQL, etc. )?

From an early age I was very interested in computers; I was an avid user of the web long before I was a creator for it. My mom is a graphic designer, so she had a copy of Photoshop installed on our family computer. I started using it by following a ton of online tutorials for silly text effects and the like, and slowly I became okay at it. I discovered that the app had a feature to convert a slice based document into a table-based webpage, and then it was a natural progression to HTML and CSS tutorials.

I then started to read a ton of web design blogs, and absorbed as much information as possible. The rest just followed naturally.

6. Can you list 7 sites/blogs (exclude Google and social media sites) that you visit every day?

Reddit, Engadget, Dribbble, Tumblr, Instapaper, The Onion, Hulu.

7. What do you foresee yourself doing in 5 years from now?

School-wise: studying in college. I'll hopefully still have time to devote to the web, but probably won't be doing much client work during the school year. With any luck, I'll have released this iPhone App, and will be working on a few awesome new projects!

8. Finally, do you have any tips for young professionals who want to get into the web industry?

Learn as much as you possibly can. Do as many personal projects as you can. Start a blog. Follow great designers on Twitter. Get involved in the community. Read as much as you possibly can. That's the only way you'll be able to distinguish yourself from all the other designers out there.