Hi friend! I’m Dan Mall, a husband, dad, teacher, creative director, designer, founder, and entrepreneur from Philly. I share as much as I can to create better opportunities for those who wouldn’t have them otherwise. Most recently, I ran design system consultancy SuperFriendly for over a decade. Now I’m trying to share as much of what I’ve learned to help designers get the respect they deserve. Currently creating Design System University.
My Pakistani dad and Filipina mom both emigrated to the U.S., where they met and I was born. I grew up in north Philadelphia. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood, but it wasn’t a good one either. And we weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. I watched my parents work hard as an accountant and a nurse to continually raise the standard of living for my brother and me to give us all a better life.
I grew up playing music, drawing, reading comic books, and watching Disney movies. When I was 8, my dad bought us a computer. When I was 12, a relative dropped off some pirated copies of Photoshop and Flash. When I got to college, I discovered design.
Design has impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have dreamed.
I was fortunate to get an internship through my college that turned into another internship that turned into becoming a founder member of 2 agencies that turned into running design at a digital agency that turned into starting my own agency and running it for over a decade now. (I’ll tell the full version of these stories someday.) I’ve been blessed to learn so many things from so many people in my career of 24 years so far, and I’d love to share as much of it as I can with you.
Em (my wife) and I met when we were both in fifth grade. She’s been with me from the beginning of my journey to learn how to be a designer and as I’ve grown in that practice. She’s always been my biggest supporter and my best creative director.
Just because I’m able to push pixels around a screen, we’ve been able to provide a great life for our daughters Sidda and Charlie and enjoy experiences together from playing in the sand of some of the world’s most beautiful beaches to hanging out at home together to dogsledding on a glacier in Alaska and so much more.
Design has impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have dreamed. It feels like I’ve stumbled upon a cheat code for life, and I want to show as many people as I can how to have their version of that too.
When I’m not hanging out with my family and friends or designing, I tend to spend my time shooting landscape photography, collecting sneakers, and trying to play basketball once or twice a week.
This is the major 5th version of my site in the last 18 years, and it’s the one I’ve been the most excited for. I’ve finally made the space to collect and share many of the things I’ve learned in my career so far about using design to power the life I want to live. I’m thrilled to make that available to people like you.
If you’re looking to learn more about growing as a designer, start with my free resources. And, if there’s something you think is missing, please do drop me a line!