Stephen Thorson—also known as Thor to many of his clients—is an independent UX Designer, father of three, and husband to the most beautiful woman east of the Chattahoochee. His current interests are mountain biking, cryptocurrencies, and learning to play the piano, but as a Serial Hobbyist, it’s practically guaranteed he will be entirely disinterested in those subjects within a few weeks.
Home Roam: Roam Alpharetta
1. Tell us about what you do and some of your most recent and exciting projects.
I’m a UX Designer (User Experience Designer). Put simply, I design websites and mobile apps. More specifically, I help brands merge their goals with those of their customers. For apps, it’s typically about designing interfaces that are intuitive and fun. For websites, it’s communicating a brand’s story clearly, and organizing content in a way that feels natural and visually appealing.
When I began my career, I knew I was interested in some form of creative media, so I got my first job at a tiny marketing company where I was able to try my hand at all kinds of fun stuff: videography, audio production, motion graphics, copywriting, print design, web design and full-stack web development. It really helped me discover what I was passionate about. Ever since then, I’ve been slowly narrowing my focus, but have always stayed at small companies where I’ve had opportunities to work in multiple disciplines outside of my job description. I believe that gave me the foundation of experience I needed to venture out on my own (which I did on the 4th of July 2016. My personal independence day).
I’ve been blessed to work on some really fun projects since I became a freelancer. In the past year, I’m most proud of:
-Helping design an app for Coca Cola (through CSE)
-Redesign the website for Sanderson Farms (through BBDO Atlanta)
-Designing and developing the Parent Cue app (through Orange)
-Helping create a crowdsourced interior design service for a startup called SwatchPop!
-Designing a Social media & training platform for GLOCK fans (through Swarm Agency)
2. Which Roam location do you frequent?
I love the fact that there are multiple locations throughout Atlanta. I get bored easily, so I hop around as much as I can just to keep things interesting (though I do that a lot more in the summer when school is out and traffic isn’t as bad). There are Roams near several of my clients. Unless I have a client meeting near one of the Roam locations that day, I usually don’t decide which location I’m going to until I’m pulling out of my driveway in the morning.
3. Have you benefited from connections made at Roam?
I’m an introvert, but I’ve met so many people through Roam. I think it’s one of the biggest benefits of working here. I’ve had staff introduce me to people they think I should meet or I’ve just ended up sitting beside someone from a similar industry that struck up a conversation. I’ve both hired and been hired by people I’ve met here. I’ve even run into several acquaintances and previous coworkers that happened to be at Roam for offsite meetings. It’s nice to constantly see fresh faces and share an office with folks from so many different industries. I like taking the headphones out every now and then and catching pieces of conversations about church leadership, the film industry or even medical equipment (though those usually aren’t too exciting).
4. How has Roam impacted you as a freelance creative?
There’s something motivating about working here. I think it’s partly being around other self-motivated people. It takes some effort to “go in to work” when you don’t really have to. I assume others, like myself, are here because they actually care about getting work done, and this is a great place to do it. It’s hard to get things done when kids are pulling on your arm or you know the latest episode of Game of Thrones is sitting there on your DVR. I suppose I could still watch it here, but that would be awkward.
When I first went out on my own, I tried working from my home office for a few weeks, but I didn’t really like being so isolated. Here, I get the feeling of having some office-like community without the distraction of coworkers asking me questions all day. The staff here are friendly. Several of them have gotten to know me and occasionally strike up a conversation or ask about work, which is nice.
Most of my clients know I work from here, and I think there’s a certain level of perceived legitimacy that comes from knowing I’m not taking their conference call from my couch in my underwear. I usually go to my clients’ offices for meetings, so I don’t really get to take advantage of Roam’s meeting rooms, but I have met a few clients here for coffee.
5. How have you as a freelance creative working out of Roam had the opportunity to impact big, national brands?
The opportunities I’m getting now are mostly coming through connections I’ve made over the past twelve years of working at marketing agencies. As my old coworkers have moved on to bigger and better things, they’re pulling me into projects where it makes sense. At least for me, networking (and a little prayer) is the best way I’ve found to build my business. Unfortunately, I’m not naturally very good at networking, but it happens somewhat organically here. I’ve only been at Roam a short while and am already seeing some of the benefits of the connections I’ve made here. I suspect it will continue to grow over time.