Student profile: Anthony Gracey-Wright

Name: Anthony Gracey-Wright
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 29
Job title: Senior UX Designer

Anthony Gracey-Wright has a lot going for him. Not only is he now working his dream job, but he’s able to pursue his other passions through the creative collective he runs on the side. But it wasn’t always like this.

For a while, Anthony was working as a freelance visual designer, bouncing back and forth between companies and assignments. He was getting these gigs through a placement agency but really wanted to settle into a permanent position. Unfortunately, full-time roles weren’t in abundant supply, though he’d had his hopes raised and then crushed a few times. At one job, for example, everything seemed to be going great until he discovered they couldn’t afford to pay him — and also pay the rest of the team. He opted to leave, but it “broke my heart.”

All this time, though his official title was visual designer, Anthony was also doing a lot of work that crossed over into user experience design, which was where he wanted to develop his career. “It’s the correct trajectory of any designer if you want to become a creative director,” he says.

When a juicy, full-time UX role did come along, the placement agency encouraged Anthony to apply. He didn’t think he had a chance but submitted his resume and then went in search of materials to prepare for the interview. Through Google he found instructor Joe Natoli’s “User Experience Design Fundamentals” course.

Prior to his Udemy experience, Anthony had taken other online courses but “nothing too seriously, nothing I intended to finish.” When he got started with Joe’s course, however, he was fully engaged. He liked the course organization and the thoroughness of the talking points. With that, Anthony nailed the interview and got his “dream job” in March 2015 as a senior user experience designer, using statistics and usability best practices to inform his designs, “not just make them pretty.” He firmly believes this wouldn’t have been possible without Udemy courses.

It was a bonus that Joe’s UX courses also taught him skills he could apply to his side projects. 421Labs is Anthony’s “labor of love.” It’s a collective of creative people he’s met over time — from childhood friends to industry colleagues — who all share a passion for innovative products built on open source principles. For example, the team has been working on an animated series that viewers can enjoy as a story but will also be useful in daily life. This requires knowledge of programming, video game art, mobile app design, and motion graphics, all of which Anthony’s been learning about on Udemy. In fact, he’s turned his collaborators on to Udemy too.

According to Anthony, learning skills on Udemy “enhanced a lot of our plans. We realized how easy some things could be if we went ahead and learned to do them.” Anthony’s also exploring business courses to help him manage the team, keep morale up, and nurture the collective’s culture. All of these things are “just as important as the products we plan to launch.”

Now, Anthony’s balancing the demands of his day job with his work for 421Labs, and Udemy is “exactly what I need to power through the day and keep me energized to want to learn.” He’s always been self-motivated, having dropped out of college after two years when he saw he was outpacing the school’s curriculum on his own. He just didn’t think it was worth the money. “The value of Udemy versus paying for the college experience is laughable,” he says.

Looking ahead, Anthony is confident that learning on Udemy will help him continue advancing in his career. With the solid foundation and skill set he’s gained from Udemy, “I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t achieve the outlandish goals I’ve set for myself.”