Julia Korbut is a multidisciplinary designer and 3D artist.

I help bring new ideas to market with design expertise, collaboration, and craft: from concept, strategy and brand identity to digital product design. Over the past ten years, I’ve created web and mobile experiences from consumer apps and lifestyle e-commerce to social games, custom emoji and augmented reality. Nice to meet you.


Playing with augmented reality


AR Core, Google's augmented reality kit, was getting ready to release a major update: depth, occlusion, pathfinding, and surface detection. Until then objects in AR seemed clearly out of place and slightly uncanny, a flat sticker in the foreground of a real life image. But this new release of AR Core allowed AR objects to blend with camera output in realistic ways. Objects can peek out from behind furniture, splatter paint over a tree, or turn a daylight photo into night. They can understand depth, and plot a path throughout a room traversing it back and forth. Virtual snow could accumulate on your desk, or even gather on small details such as the handle of a coffee mug. These were huge leaps in what AR could do, but you really had to see it to understand it it. It was hard to grasp how advanced the technology is without actually experiencing it. As a hybrid product designer and 3D artist, it was a great project for me to dive into.

At Google Creative Lab, I was a Creative Collaborator on a few different projects including Teachable Machine (machine learning) and Stadia (Google's streamable games). When I joined the AR Core project, I was quickly impressed by AR Core's new capabilities. Using my skills as both a product designer and 3D artist, I prototyped different AR concepts in motion using 3D and After Effects. I also created initial interactivity and UI explorations as well as modeled and textured 3D game assets. Having a hands on approach and creating realistic prototypes proved immensely helpful. It allowed for easier collaboration and a clear shared understanding with all teammates, both technical and non-technical. One of these prototypes ended up becoming Lines of Play. It is a playable experience that demonstrates advanced occlusion, path finding, physics and object permanence in a clever way - through domino art! After all, the way dominoes topple is greatly affected by the surface they're on, and by the tiniest changes in setting. Long strings of dominoes can occlude behind furniture or fall off the edge of your desk. They even showcase depth understanding as you can view the same domino art from multiple vantage points in your room. It is a fun, easily understandable experience that displays AR Core's latest advancements.


Making money less awkward


With an original combination of finance and social media and ubiquity with the youth, Venmo is probably one of the most liked financial apps out there. My responsibilities at Venmo varied for my three-year tenure, from internal tools to in-app multi-platform design. My initial focus was Operations, serving almost a dozen internal teams and ensuring the app itself adhered to regulatory, security and privacy standards. Later on, I made sure promotional efforts were consistent across different platforms and collaborated with internal and external partners. I’ve also designed and maintained Venmo’s exclusive, seasonal emoji set.

Venmo's custom emojis were created as an additional layer of self-expression content within the feed. The challenge was leveraging existing technical capabilities while providing added interest for day to day use. The resulting emoji set was well received and became a sort of secret knowledge for friends to share. Discovery was subtle and contextual as well, relying on emoji autocomplete to provide relevant and surprising combinations. These custom emoji turned out a success, increasing engagement such as likes and comments on posts. They were also one of the first tools used in collaborating with third party brands directly in the feed, as a great social marketing device.


New money for the internet generation


Bitcoin was supposed to be for everyone but ended up being owned mostly by old money. Gracias existed to change that and to put crypto in the hands of more people outside of the finance world. It's also all about learning by doing. Finance, and cryptocurrency specifically, is full of confusing and lengthy documentation and explanation. This is made evident by 'explain bitcoin to me' ranking high on Google searches. Sending Bitcoin to friends is one great way to get familiar with crypto, whether as a token of appreciation or just as a way to get used to virtual coins.

For Gracias, I’ve designed a brand system inspired by early internet retro-futurism for early internet money. With a hand-lettered wordmark (that even forms into a pattern) it certainly stands out in the crypto space. This brand system went beyond just colorful Y2K aesthetics though. My focus when creating a brand system for digital products is always the end-user experience. So the brand system was a useful tool in designing the app in a more nuanced way: Utilizing pauses in user flows as opportunities for the brand to shine, via bright avatars and emojis. Brightening up endless form fields and onboarding flows with visually appealing typography. And using type to make crypto's notorious long decimal points clear and visually appealing instead of hiding them altogether.


Community driven commerce


Drop, formerly known as Massdrop, is the internet's leading retailer for obsessively curated products. It has all the best-reviewed gear in one place whether you're interested in mechanical keyboards, high-quality audio equipment, or fine cooking. But it's not just for browsing products or shopping based on a variety of interests. What makes Drop unique is that for years, it has been fostering communities around these interests rivaled by very few corners of the internet. More than a million users visit Drop to check the latest releases and stay in touch with their communities. With this website redesign, the goal was not only to incorporate brand updates and visual changes but to streamline the web app in context with the depth of all it has to offer.

One of the first stages of this project was creating a visual style guide and pattern library. It involved maintaining consistency and clarity across polls, photos, videos, reviews and of course shopping components. Shopping in itself had many layers. As a community-based platform, you can not only buy products off the shelf – you could also comment during the production process and fund products in development. Specific visual components were created for the variety of stages and product categories offered in store, and a story based narrative approach was utilized for community-based Drops. The resulting design distills down the many features of Drop without adding any complexity.


Designing communication for remote work


I have just signed to freelance for Slack when COVID-19 hit. As soon as the first lockdown happened, remote work became the norm almost overnight. As a freelancer, I was used to working remotely for some time before then. I was personally familiar with how working remotely poses unique challenges compared to working together in person. Software like Slack had to replace talking face to face, expressing yourself verbally, and communicating via body language. With these cues effectively gone, the increased reliance on text based communication became a necessity. This meant tools like Slack had to allow for easily navigable conversations and as pleasant to use as possible. Suddenly, apps like Slack were direct representations of an office life to millions of people.

At Slack, I've been working with a variety of teams. First, within Messaging, I've explored how Status Updates can communicate different forms of expression that are easier to notice in person. Letting your team know what you're up to and how you're feeling became an important part of staying connected. At Platform, I've worked on developer tools and Slack workflows that can streamline tasks and automate time consuming assignments. These tools would reduce time spent on less important things which is especially crucial during a period of global burnout. Lastly, at the Client Capabilities team, I led design explorations for the future of Slack. The project involved information architecture explorations for the desktop and mobile app.