A professional eulogy for the first designer to leave my team

(He’s just taking another job, but I’m still grieving, ok??)

Recently, one of my designers announced he was leaving my team for another opportunity. So, he’s not actually dead per se, but he’s dead to me 👻 (j/k). And as a result, I’ve decided the best thing I can do is write him a proper eulogy.

So, we are gathered here today to memorialize the 4.5 year Innovatemap career of Evan Tank (again, he is actually still very alive). When I first discovered Evan, he was a recent graduate of the Midwest’s greatest design program (and alma mater of the definitely unbiased, yours truly), the Human Computer Interaction Design program at Indiana University. Like most designers, he felt design would save the world but unlike most designers, he was ready to do the work.

I’ve led design teams for the better part of a decade and find that it’s exceedingly rare to find those audacious enough to take on wickedly challenging problems, but humble enough to know that doing so requires hard work. Pixel pushing, user interviews, border-radius adjusting, color palette swapping and good ol’ verbal communication have never been beneath Evan.

I’d be lying if I said I knew all of this would come true when I hired him in 2016, but it took probably all of 3 months for it to become clear. What was also becoming clear around that time was that I’d probably just hired myself out of a design job. Up until that time, I’d been principal pixel pusher at Innovatemap. But by the end of 2016 hired Yhareli Chamboneth (the other clue character pictured above) and it was clear that I’d built a team with much stronger skills than I possessed.

Between 2017 and 2020, Evan Tank evolved from a new grad who could barely pick a good icon from Noun Project, to one that could handle eight clients at a time. He quickly became the go-to choice for clients needing great communication, then became the guy you called on for the most creative projects. He worked with pre-revenue startups and Fortune 500 companies. By this year, it was becoming clear there wasn’t much he couldn’t do as a designer — he was doing things in four years that took me a decade.

But aside from what Evan brings to his work, what I’ll truly miss most is what Evan brought to our design team culture. Even right up until the day he told me he was leaving, he was leading impromptu design challenges to teach everyone Figma:

He spoke at local conferences, worked with university design programs, and took the time to bring everyone along with him. I don’t think any other team member would disagree that he is one-of-a-kind.

Innovatemap will miss Evan dearly. But there’s no doubt we are a much better company because of him. His humility, quiet leadership, and generally positive attitude coupled together with his elite design skills will be missed greatly. Evan, good luck on the next leg of your journey and I hope we cross paths again (but like, on earth..and maybe at Innovatemap).

P.S. If you read this story and thought either a) “His story inspires me and I want to be that guy,” or b) “I bet I’m better than him,” then get in touch with me. We are hiring at Innovatemap: https://innovatemap.com/product-designer/

By day, executive designer at Innovatemap where I help tech companies design marketable products. By night, co-founder of UX Power Tools.