Designing with David

by Pauline on October 20th 2018

David x Inspiring Figures
David da Silva

Inspiring Figures is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people you should really know about. Last month featured Natalie Franke, founder of the Rising Tide Society. You can read her feature here.

Just like always, this month’s feature first took place live on Instagram – thank you to everyone that joined in!

This month features, David da Silva.

I am really excited about this feature! As I said on my IG live, this is the first time I did an IG live with a close friend. It felt very natural, sort of just like catching up on Facetime except with 50 or so people listening in. 😆

I first met David through Twitter actually, he had responded to one of my tweets and from there, we eventually met up in person in London (when I went to the Gymshark pop-up actually!) Isn’t it crazy how we connect with the best people through the internet sometimes? Ever since then, we’ve been quite close and so, having him feature for this October’s edition of Inspiring Figures was really fun!


David is currently in the final year of his undergraduate degree in Computer Science, recently starting on his final project. He also works remotely as a part-time Product Designer for Sensa and has a number of passion projects on the side such as Art + Code.

Getting into Programming

At a young age, David enjoyed playing video games with his cousin but just like most of us who grew up loving video games (I know I can totally relate to this!), his parents restricted his gaming time. So once David stopped playing, he started creating paperboard games that reflected on the games he had played, complete with paper controllers. Examples include Sonic Drift and Kirby Super Star.

One day, he had seen his father who was a graphic designer create an animation on the computer. It was a simple animation of a ball going into a basket; intrigued David started learning how to use Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) and tried making games with it, which would slowly get better, as he learned more. From this, he began his programming journey where he started learning bits and slowly went on to teach himself things like what specific functions do etc.

PRODUCT DESIGN

Presently, his interest in Product Design sparked from being able to think of awesome ideas, reading articles on Product Design, and wanting to understand what users feel about certain products. Product Design involves user research, prototyping, wireframing, UI mockups, validating ideas and value to others and making the necessary changes before a product launch. It is a mix of creativity, knowing patterns and a little bit of psychology. Usually, Product Designers do not need to be technical (there are tools for prototyping) but it is a plus as prototypes can easily be coded without the need of a developer. 

In the past, David has worked on a mobile game which users who downloaded it loved (resulting in 80,000 downloads!) Creating something that made a huge impact on users was incredible, users had feedback such as:

  • Sleep better because of the soothing nature of the game
  • A blind girl was able to play the game (which surprised David as it was accessible!) 

I  have my own personal experience with David’s games that have enabled me to calm down during a panic – it’s amazing what you can do with a few lines of code. I applaud David for caring a lot about user experience 💙

Art+Code

In September 2017, David started Project: Art+Code. 

Which is exactly what it says on the tin: making art using code.

He had always wanted to explore this but felt that there was a barrier because he had no idea where to start. However, on Twitter, Stephanie Hurlburt wrote a thread reminding folks to ask for pointers to help others with their own projects. Inspired by this thread, David reached out to someone who had worked on programmic art (a reply to the thread below), he then recommended David some books to kick-start Art+Code.

This project definitely shows that you can be creative with code!

David has now passed his own knowledge on and created a tutorial  to show step by step how you can also create art with code yourself. Payin’ it forward.

Some advice for learners

“A key thing about learning – programming in this example – is to learn it through doing something that you want to see happen.”

There are plenty of amazing tutorials online and a whole community of expertise! Go out and explore.

David also advised leaners to break down learning to the basics – step by step!

Interest in Hackathons

For those that aren’t familiar with hackathons, they are 24-hour “coding marathons” where participants team up to build something using technology or hardware available to them (usually from sponsors etc) You can read about my own experience with hackathons here – including the time I organised one!

When I asked David which hackathon was his favourite to attend, he shared the story of his first trip to the US where he attended PennApps. Flying from Paris (and nearly not attending because of lack of money but luckily he had a friend that lent him some for the trip), he stepped into a huge hackathon with around 1,400 people in attendance. David described the hackathon to being very different to other EU hackathons he had been to in the past.

Upon attending, he spoke to a range of different people from different backgrounds and quickly made friends. This is such a huge barrier for new hackathon attendees as most are worried that they won’t know anyone – but it is so quick to make friends as David demonstrated!

PennApps was his favourite hackathons because in addition to actually winning ($3,000 (pre-tax), an Oculus DK2 and more!), he learned a lot from other attendees and mentors e.g. was exposed to aspects of product design which he actually ended up leading in his team. This is one of the main reasons you should attend a hackathon, it truly is such a fantastic learning experience! For example, in his second PennApps, David worked on hardware stuff – something that was completely out of his comfort zone! But there are so many people there to help you through your ideas!!

Once the hackathon was over, David and his team went to his dream trip to Silicon Valley where he met with companies to see if they could sponsor a hackathon that they were planning on later in the year, as well as experiencing the life in the Valley!

Here’s an article on PennApps that mentions David and his team.

David and his team went on to organise HackUPC, a hackathon in Barcelona which has been going on since 2015 where David has been a lead designer for 3 editions.

Outside of Tech: Longboarding

In addition to his love for programming, David also loves to learn how to skateboard. One time David and I were going to meet in Sheffield, at 5am on his way to the station in London, he went down a hill REALLY QUICKLY. He had less control due to the fast speed causing “speed wobbles”, he hadn’t had any protection! 😱 I know, I was shocked when I heard the story too. Luckily for him, he didn’t get into an accident! 🙏🏻

Recently, he’s enjoyed learning how to drift! Watch him below:


Catch up on the live conversation

You can catch-up with our conversation on YouTube below! A huge thank you again as usual to Clark Narvas for putting these together.


You can find David on social media – he loves interacting with people on Instagram and Twitter! I hope you found his story and projects interesting, he truly is an Inspiring Figure. ✨ 


Posted under: Inspiring Figures



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8 comments

  1. I love reading the stories of other people :). That’s a huge success that so many people downloaded his game! And I think longboarding looks so fun but WAY to scary for me, especially on those hills! At least when you’re snowboarding snow is (sometimes) softer than concrete!
    Thanks for sharing another inspirational person Pauline!

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  2. Radi says:

    What a story! He’s so talented. I loved reading this.
    I would love to try skateboarding. Looks fun!

    http://www.fashionradi.com

  3. Kassy says:

    David sounds like such a cool person and I can see why he would be an inspiration to you. It’s awesome that he combines code and design to make things. 😀

  4. Annabelle says:

    It’s great to see how someone can merge both art and code together, something I’m wondering how to do myself! David seems like a great guy.