Nate Kadlac on Digital Design and How to Choose Your Own Typeface

Nate Kadlac on Digital Design and How to Choose Your Own Typeface

Nate Kadlac is a digital product designer based in LA. He co-founded the first mobile public transit app for Minnesota, designed the first news app for Minnesota Public Radio, and created the first mobile checkout experience for Best Buy. He now leads product design at Homespotter. In this episode, Nate and I explore his unconventional path to learning digital design – from photography to coding to caring about design in every product he’s had a hand in. We explore the role of mentors in his journey, the influence of his father and family, and how to choose a typeface for your own creations. As Nate says, “you have a favorite color, you should also have a favorite typeface.” Please enjoy!


Full Episode

Guest Links

Show Notes

  • How would Nate describe the nature of the ability that he’s developed? (1:22)
  • What early training was Nate doing in design? (2:33)
  • What are some of the things Nate’s dad taught him? (3:59)
  • Nate’s thoughts on how to encourage and support inspirational outlet in your child. (4:45)
  • How do you let a child find their niche? (5:41)
  • What were Nate’s next steps, after receiving a supportive foundation from his dad? (7:19)
  • When did Nate start to think about the how and the why? At what point did he develop the skills he needed to move into the digital realm? (10:25)
  • Nate’s journey as he moved away from the traditional schooling system. (10:56)
  • Who were the important mentors that helped Nate on his journey of learning about design? (11:51)
  • Nate’s thoughts on surrounding yourself with people who are on a higher level in a specific field than you. (13:40)
  • What role did getting out of his comfort zone play in his career? (13:57)
  • Ideas around ‘conscious incompetence’. (14:43)
  • What were the milestones Nate went through where he understood the field he wanted to move into? (15:13)
  • What about CSS appealed to Nate when he saw the means of making his ideas come alive on the web? (17:11)
  • Which of the many experiments Nate conducted stood out to him? (18:27)
  • How Nate’s unrelated skills came together unexpectedly, an almost serendipity. (19:47)
  • What were Nate’s projects and how did he collaborate with friends? (20:30)
  • Is design important? (23:04)
  • How did Nate consume and use the inspiration he absorbed from his surroundings? (24:05)
  • How did he put everything into motion? (25:55)
  • How much of building his profile was actually intentional? (27:30)
  • How did Nate manage to fight the balance between making ends meet and doing work he enjoyed? (28:36)
  • What took him to the next step, to share his work with the world? (30:25)
  • Was there a point in his journey when Nate felt like quitting? (31:20)
  • ‘If you are consistent long enough, opportunity will come to you.’ (32:31)
  • When did Nate start to see his own potential and use it to gain momentum? (33:28)
  • How did Nate measure his improvement? (35:50)
  • What was holding Nate back? (37:00)
  • Was there one particular work that stood out to him as the turning point? (37:55)
  • Investing in yourself. (40:22)
  • The importance of a personal website. (40:52)
  • ‘Your personal website is your playground, it’s your sandbox!’ (41:53)
  • What role did Nate’s friends and family play throughout his journey to where he is now? (43:50)
  • When thinking of your parents, ‘it’s easy to confuse ignorance with unconditional love.’ (45:43)
  • What’s next for Nate in the world of digital design? (46:24)
  • ‘You have a favorite color, you should have a favorite typeface.’ (48:17)
  • Interesting stories on the creation of fonts. (48:55)
  • The difference between Serif and Sans-serif fonts. (52:08)
  • How do you start customizing a font for yourself or your website? (53:15)
  • Popular fonts (56:10)
  • Can you mix and match fonts? (56:50)
  • Nick Sherman: ‘A typeface is to a font as a song is to a mp3.’ (59:14)
  • The designer’s intent with a font. (61:30)
  • ‘Type is all around us.’ (63:07)

Selected Links from the Episode

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