About this episode
In this episode, we'll hear how his coworking space surrounds him with inspiration and opportunities to explore problem solving, plus how sketching, curiosity, and sharing are powerful tools.
Matthew Munger: Hey, Vincent, it's a pleasure to speak with you today.
Vincent Bidaux: Hello Matthew. Thanks for having me.
Matthew Munger: So to get us started, why don't you tell everyone a bit about yourself and your background.
Vincent Bidaux: I have had several careers before. Around 2005 I started to do web design, but at the time it was not very fun.
We had plenty of tools to do graphic design, like Photoshop. It was the web part that was difficult. If you wanted to do something significant, you had to work with development agencies, web agencies, and you were just– it was a very small part of a very big process.
Matthew Munger: What is your role now? Nowadays?
Vincent Bidaux: Nowadays, I work as a freelancer. I'm mostly building Webflow websites that have been designed by very good agencies with artistic directors or designers. I like to work with those agencies now because they provide challenges with every one of their projects. I like to say yes when I absolutely don't know how I'm gonna do it.
La Rochelle, France
Matthew Munger: Vincent, can you describe where you live for folks who are listening?
Vincent Bidaux: In France on the west coast. I live by the water. My commute is just going from one porch to another, so I only move by bike. This is very, very nice. It's a very nice life to live. I can go to the beach at lunch, I can go to the beach for dinner.
Matthew Munger: What's your favorite part, or what do you really enjoy about living there?
Vincent Bidaux: We are really living at the rhythm of the sea. We are heavily impacted by the tide. Everyone is either sailing or surfing or skateboarding. Lots of boats. And my coworking is even inside of a shipyard, one that is doing classic wood boats.
So it's quite magical. I can just step out of my office and see boat carpentry. It's massive. It's very interesting. We have a lot of people working on boats, a lot of boats and cruise and touristing companies.
My first Webflow clients here locally were boat cruise companies and I've had the chance to work for others. So you are never really far from the sea, neither from the idea or the ocean.
Matthew Munger: What's your favorite place to go out and visit? Around town or in the area?
Vincent Bidaux: That's a very good question. My favorite place is actually where I work now because this has been a dream. You would be excited, Matthew.
Everyone here is a creator or an artist. The carpenters that work on both, you should see what they do. And they always– like, this is a very creative process. There's nothing that goes as planned. Everything you have to invent every step of the process. You have to make your own tools. It’s a state of mind, you know. My life is way better now that I have those people around me.
Matthew Munger: Yeah, you're surrounded by others who are expressing creativity and problem solving in different ways, and that can provide you kind of inspiration in a different kind of head space.
Vincent Bidaux: Exactly. And people who are experts, people who are growing an expertise over a full life. I have people here that have been carpenters on the most magnificent wood boats. When they talk about something about a technique, they know what they talk about.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. Working in the digital world, you know, our tools, our platforms, our technology is constantly changing and shifting. It's a very different kind of career to be able to dedicate your whole life to really honing in on a very specific skill set.
Vincent Bidaux: That's very true.
Matthew Munger: Since we're talking about your workspace, can you kind of describe the room that you're sitting in there.
Vincent Bidaux: So my desk is quite classic. I have two screens on, a mic, a good cam, a nice lamp. I like things that are in wood, in leather, and metal. I'm sharing my office with a naval architect and so everything– and he's Italian, he has very good taste in everything, so the office is quite nice.
It's a bit messy in my space because I keep going into the cheap shipyard and stealing pieces of wood. So I have like a lot of exotic wood and I steal the pieces because I want to do projects with them.
Matthew Munger: I imagine that the wood, especially that raw wood that you're getting from the shipyard, has some strong smells as well, like the different woods.
Vincent Bidaux: Absolutely. I love the smell of it. Everyone is fed up with it. I still love when someone is sawing it, you can smell it from the other part of the shipyard. So it smells differently every day. So it's like sounds and smells.
Matthew Munger: Something for all the senses there around you. What can you see out your window there?
Vincent Bidaux: Oh, the best view. I'm at the entry of the shipyard, so I can see the shipyard where all the wood is, where the boats come and go. And sometimes they move all the boats. So it's very nice to see. On the exterior, I can see the best part of the port of the city where the museum boats are.
So there's like a gigantic, very old weather boat that is in front of me now. It’s just sitting there, it serves as something, a tourist visit. And it's surrounded by classic boats. So it's old sailboats and boats that are perfectly restored.
Matthew Munger: That's beautiful. When you're working, do you like to listen to anything?
Vincent Bidaux: Music and podcasts half of the time. But I like to just hear what's happening around me. I like to be disturbed. So it's very interesting to be a part of that. I'm listening to a lot of standup comedy. And more recently I'm very much into John Mullaney and Taylor Tomlinson, they're both hilarious.
Matthew Munger: How does listening to podcasts and specifically comedy, how does that kind of affect your headspace as you work?
Vincent Bidaux: Comedy is just good for my brain. And, you know, as a regular podcast comedy and stand up comedy, the artists talk about what they have encountered very recently. So it's almost like news for me sometimes. I don't watch TV at all actually. Because it's too long and everything. So it's really, more podcast audio. If I wanna watch something, it's gonna be makers on YouTube, people who are doing forge, woodworking, any kind of craft, actually. Leather work.
Matthew Munger: Yeah.
Bicycling & Woodworking
Matthew Munger: So you're obviously very interested in craftsmen and artists, but what do you like to do when you're not working?
Vincent Bidaux: I like to ride my bike, actually. When I'm not working on what brings me money, I try to work in the shipyard on wood projects. I try to go to flea markets to get very old tools and very old furniture that I'm going to restore.
And when I'm not doing that, I like to take my kids and to ride my bike and to go along the coast or in the forest or anywhere on the islands. Because we have a lot of islands around that we can reach by boat or bridge with the bikes on the boats. It's very nice. And I'm not paying for the boats because I'm making the websites for everybody.
Matthew Munger: So you get free passes on all the ferries and the boats.
Vincent Bidaux: And they're actually very pleased to have Webflow websites. They give me free tickets. Anyone that is visiting me here, free tickets for you. Come visit me, I'll put you on the boat.
Matthew Munger: That sounds like a good deal to me.
Matthew Munger: All right, Vincent, can you describe what you do in your kind of day-to-day role? What does a day look like for you?
Vincent Bidaux: I usually start my days by building, you know, because of time zones. I have less incoming traffic in the morning. Traffic from the USA will happen in the early afternoon. So I'm starting my day by building on what I've been working on the last night, actually. Sometimes, I don't even reach the point where I build for money. I spend some time going onto the different social networks on the forum to answer questions. For Twitter, which is where I like to post. Lately on LinkedIn too, it's nice to post there. Nice discussions happening there.
Vincent Bidaux: My walls are covered by post-it notes and I have like the biggest post-it notes you can find.
Matthew Munger: Those are your backlog of ideas over there?
Vincent Bidaux: Yes, and I can't keep them all there, so I have to clean them. And now I have notebooks where I do all my things and even all my calculations is something I'm working on with CSS calc. Because I have new ideas for Webflow. But then I have to take all my post-its from the walls and put them into notebooks because I wanna organize them.
Matthew Munger: Yeah, you’ve got your post-its.
Vincent Bidaux: I definitely will never have time to develop all of that, but I like to take some time, sometimes a full day, to just craft a Cloneable that is going to help people.
Matthew Munger: That's a very beautiful way to kind of collect your ideas and also be able to look back on how you do problem solving as you were working through a design issue or an interaction.
Vincent Bidaux: Everything you've seen from me is starting with pen and paper. It's always been super important to me, the pen and the paper. I have like, maybe 12 things like that here. Mugs are too small now, it's a plant pot actually. So everything starts with pen paper for me, because I just don't want to lose the ideas.
Matthew Munger: There's something about the freeform nature of pen and paper where you can mix your ideas, and it's like everything that is happening in your brain is not compartmentalized like we often have to do once we go digital. But when you start in that state, it really is freeform and you can kind of just let it all out.
Vincent Bidaux: Yes. And Webflow has a role to play in my renewed interest in it. It's totally possible to just fire up Webflow and start designing right into Webflow. It's even more possible if you have done your work by drafting as much as you can on pen and paper, and you can go very far. So with the right amount of sketching, preliminary research for your resources, icons, images, and everything.
Matthew Munger: I have a very similar workflow where I either jump straight into Webflow with a blank canvas, or start with a blank piece of paper and start there to kind of work through kind of ideas or kind of problem spaces.
Matthew Munger: So what excites you or motivates you about being a Webflow designer?
Vincent Bidaux: This is very easy to answer. I'm still not over the empowerment Webflow brought to me. I've been someone full of ideas since I was a kid. I always wanted to do everything. I wanted to build things, I wanted to cook things, I wanted to draw. I've been a geek and a nerd at a very young age. And so I always dreamed about things that were too big for me to realize. Being able to dream about those things came with frustration.
In the early 2000’s when I was developing– creating websites, I needed developers to do my stuff, so I was lucky enough to work to invent some apps on iPhone that had some success. So it was very pleasing, photo apps, you know. But when the developer says he doesn't want to go the extra mile to have the app super polished like I wanted it to be, there's nothing I can do. I was really like, frustrated and envious about other structures where designers could have a say, could have the last word about something. How it should be, how well polished it should be.
So when Webflow arrived, this was great because I have nothing, no one to ask for. No one to ask the permission for, no one to ask the feasibility for. You know, I can just dive in right away on Webflow, start a project, check what I need to add, finish with attributes, and I'm gonna add some integrations on it.
Building is empowering
Matthew Munger: Why is that empowerment important to you?
Vincent Bidaux: I guess because I am the type of person for whom making things, achieving things, producing things is important.
I wish I wasn't only like that. I wish I could be enough with just living life and breathing the air. A goal, you can try to achieve in meditation, full consciousness and everything.
No, I need a lot of people, I need to build. I need to see something progress. I cherish the moments where people are going to use the things I've built or imagined or pushed online. That's a fantastic feeling. Yeah.
Matthew Munger: Is there a resource out there that you think more people should know about?
Vincent Bidaux: I think not enough people are confident in the fact that they can progress very quickly by just looking for answers on Google or networks. You don’t need to buy yourself a full course, you don't necessarily need to do that. You are gonna be good at Webflow if you know, HTML and CSS. When you are using Webflow, you just have to be curious enough to understand what you’re doing. It means when you are using something that is on the Style panel or Navigator, it has a name. You could just Google it to know more about this CSS property or this HTML element. So by just being curious and Googling a bit more, you are gonna extend dramatically, your power, what you can do, what you can imagine with things. So this is good advice.
Matthew Munger: Yeah, good advice is to be curious, explore on your own. It is a kind of a shortcut for learning, to actually take on that kind of exploration and just do it in little pieces. Like you said, dig into it a little more and be curious.
Matthew Munger: Who is someone within the Webflow community that inspires you?
Vincent Bidaux: There's a lot of people. Some people are natural at talking to other people and growing a community. Like Melissa for example, Melissa Mendez. And Devin Fontine, who was a friend of mine before he went to Webflow, which was interesting.
And I see him thriving in this, inside of this community. He's so eager to have found this community. He always was like that. But now he wants to share everything that he knows, and he's a bit like me and like you. He doesn't wait to be an expert on something. If he is excited about something, he’s gonna want to talk about it to others and to teach them.
But the one that never ceases to amaze me is Waldo. I’ve known him for like eight years. You know, I could talk about everything with Waldo, and he is an expert on everything. Even when Pokemon Go appeared, like he was already full of Pokemons. He knew everything about it. And now he knows everything about 3D printing. He knows how to manage people. He knows how to manage projects. He knows how to put people in contact. He's always flawlessly nice, extremely nice to people. This guy is amazing. It never ceases to amaze me. Waldo, I love you.
Matthew Munger: Yeah, he's one of the nicest people you'll ever meet and always willing to share and to help.
Matthew Munger: What is one piece of advice that you would like to share with those in the community?
Vincent Bidaux: If you have the urge to share, don't wait until you are an expert on something. Build something and share it, and your social audience will come quicker than you think if you continue to do that. And very soon you will cherish the feedback you get out of it, and it will make you better, and it will make you more capable of doing it again.
We are still at a very extremely early age of learning what Webflow is capable of, the revolution of web design and everything. Very early stage.
Matthew Munger: Yeah, absolutely. Share your work, it gives you a way to look back on your progress. It gives a way for others to give you valuable feedback, which helps you grow. And the audience, you know, it'll come. But that's not really why you do it. You do it because you will get that personal growth.
Matthew Munger: All right, Vincent, if anyone listening in the Webflow Community would like to connect with you, how can they do that?
Vincent Bidaux: On Twitter. Twitter is a weird place now, but design Twitter is amazing. Webflow Twitter is amazing. Forum, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the beneficial platforms for me.