Graphic designer Korab Shala lives and works in Stockholm, but his passion for design started in Kosovo, almost 2000 kilometres away from Sweden. Korab is an experienced video producer and designer who loves being creative and is also a formidable opponent in office ping pong. We talked to him about his work at Detectify, moving to Sweden, and the time he very nearly became a doctor.
His first design project was a photo collage
Korab first encountered graphic design in his early teens when he started learning how to use Photoshop. “Not all families in Kosovo had internet access back then, so I’d go to my friend’s place and download pictures of my favourite celebrities like Michael Jordan, then take them home on a floppy disk,” he explains. At home, Korab would crop the photos and add them to an enormous collage that took a month to make. A few years later, he discovered animation after his brother bought 3D software and a book about 3D modeling.
Deciding between design and medicine
At the time, Korab was a student at a high school that specialised in training future medical professionals. His plan was to go to university and study medicine, but all that changed when he was 16 and got a part-time job at a small production company. Suddenly, Korab was learning about directing, video editing, and storytelling.
He explains that studying and working felt like he was leading a double life: “In the mornings, I would go to the hospital for my placement, administering insulin to people and helping out in the vascular ward. In the afternoon, I would go to work and be creative.” Creativity was what sealed Korab’s decision to pursue graphic design instead of medicine: “There was a whole world out there, I was a teenager, and decided to go the fun way!” he laughs.
Working at the national TV station
The next step in Korab’s career took him to one of Kosovo’s TV stations where he worked with 3D animation. He stayed there for 15 years, first as a designer, then as Head of the Graphics Department, as well as doing 3D animation work for advertising agencies together with his brother. It was a stressful, creative, and fun experience, Korab says: “I spent many New Year’s Eves at the TV station doing last-minute design work.”
Adapting to the Swedish way of life
Moving to another country was not something Korab had planned until he met his Swedish wife, whose parents are from Kosovo, at a mutual friend’s party. They got married two years later and moved to Sweden in April 2016.
Korab says his new home is very different from where he’d grown up: “It’s a completely different culture. In the Balkans, we’re famous for talking at the same time as everyone else, but here, you take turns and listen. This is just one of the many differences between Kosovo and Sweden!” Despite this, Korab quickly adapted to life in Sweden and started learning Swedish, a language he now uses at work.
First months at Detectify
Korab joined Detectify in January 2017 and entered the world of security and ethical hacking. He says the learning curve was steep at first: “I was briefed on web security and soon after, it was time to start making videos about different vulnerabilities! I had some sleepless nights that first month, but my colleagues helped me understand the technical side of security.”
Working alongside ethical hackers has shown Korab another side of web security and the impact it has on everyday life. “I didn’t know how much goes on in the background while we regular users just browse the internet and expect things to work,” he says.
Life at a security startup
No two weeks are the same for Korab, whose work includes everything from creating educational videos to designing sales materials and email layouts. This variety has allowed him to develop as a designer: “My role here changed my perception of what I do. I used to do 3D animations and didn’t measure the results of my work the way I do at Detectify. Now here I am, suddenly making vector graphics, PDFs, playing with colours… I love it!”
Korab explains that the workflow at Detectify changes constantly and requires everyone to adapt to other teams and their needs. This is why his favourite thing about his job is the team spirit at the office: “Everyone’s just so kind and easy to work with. I really like that.”
Q&A with Korab
iPhone or Android? Android.
Mac or PC? PC, I’m a gamer!
#1 security advice? There’s only one way to go and that’s continuous security!
Favourite project you have worked on so far? My favourite is the Crowdsource video. I loved working with it and people like it and I had so much freedom to express myself!
Favourite source of graphic design inspiration? Dribbble, Artstation, Behance, AIGA, Digital Arts Online, and Adobe Create are all good resources. I also like The Tiny Designer, a website about how designers and non-designers can work together.
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