I love to create.

My first memories are of the warm colors of a CRT display. We were playing games like Test Drive 2: The Duel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, and later on Broken Sword, Day of the Tentacle, and Full Throttle. One Christmas, a whole new world opened to me when I got my first audio card, the Sound Blaster AWE 32. Suddenly, I could hear music and sounds instead of bleeps and bloops (from the PC speaker). This exciting era of blasting MIDI tunes and witnessing the fast technological progress in the realms of PC gaming introduced me to a variety of art forms—from illustration to music, and from logic puzzles to story-telling.

As a child, I never owned a console, but my friends did. At their houses—I always adored the dithered worlds, experimental jungle beats (PS1), and colorful blue skies produced with great limitations (SNES, Mega Drive). I was having a wild time experiencing something new every month—something I hadn’t ever seen before—in the form of demo discs. During these affine texture-warped times, I understood how much can be achieved with so little.

Operating systems came and went, from DOS to Windows 95 through 3.11. There have been many paradigm shift applications in my life (vim, Figma, macOS, KORG Gadget), but one of the bigger ones was Klik & Play, which paved the way for me to create video games and applications with event-based scripting. There wasn't internet back then in our house; I had to make all the assets by myself. This was a gateway into all kinds of boredom-driven experiments, including video cameras, animation and 3D software, pencils and paints, and eventually music.

(There was also Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, of course.)

I had been participating in piano lessons and losing interest; for a while, I thought music wasn’t for me. But, somewhere in 2001, I got my first audio sequencer (Magix Music Maker) from the now-defunct “Top-Ten” store. Prior to that, I had been using loop-based applications such as Hip-Hop and Dance E-Jay. Since my then-new software didn’t have any built-in metronome functionalities, I had to learn to keep time manually. Because I didn’t have access to any samples, loops, or functional MIDI-sequencing, I had to record all the instruments by myself. I wanted to capture what I was hearing in my head, so it was a great motivator for me to learn drums, keyboards, and string instruments. Since then, making music has been one of the biggest passions in my life.

For reasons unknown, even though I got high grades in music and the arts, I never believed in my chances of having a career in them. As a venture to pursue a "real job," I decided to become an automation technician. It was a weird time filled with programming robots and putting electrical wires on the walls. As I waded through the classes, my mind was always on creating music and illustrations.

After graduating and spending some time at construction sites, I understood I was on the wrong path, even though I was decent at what I was doing at work. I took corrective measures and shifted my focus towards computers. After a couple of failed applications to study media engineering, I went with software engineering (even though I hadn’t ever written a line of code prior). I had a rocky start and almost fell flat, but as I started building my website on my own Linux server (Raspberry PI), something clicked. I spent late nights configuring my server, programming IRC chatbots, and building my website; all this felt somehow anarchistic and cool. I also spent endless hours switching between Linux distributions and customizing them in increasingly interesting ways. At this point, I had totally abandoned Microsoft Windows for good. But often, I found myself banging my head against the wall with Linux audio issues. Once again, I was in a situation where technical roadblocks were limiting me when inspiration hit.

For a while, I shifted my focus towards tracker sequencers (FamiTracker, Renoise) and eventually found myself making video-game music (NES, SNES, Mega Drive) for Mega Cat Studios (as a part-time freelancer).

Soon after I became an engineer, I was hired to work at Paytrail, a payment service provider, where I was a jack of all trades and a master of none—a full-stack developer, as they say. But, during my time there, I gravitated more and more towards user experience-related lines of work; back then, I didn't even know there was a word for it. I dropped backend-related tasks altogether and took responsibility for designing and developing on the front end. I got to facelift a bunch of software, implement mobile responsiveness, and take care of accessibility requirements in a project done for the State Treasury. Everything started to slowly make sense.

As I switched jobs, I slowly moved more towards design-related tasks, but only when COVID-19 hit the world did it truly hit me. I announced at work that I wanted to focus purely on UX design, which I did for two years. I purchased my first Apple device, and, at the same time, for the first time ever, technology worked with me, not against me. I took some certifications (Google, CalArts) to fill in the gaps in my competence and burst forward.

Over the course of 2023, a lot went wrong in the world, causing layoffs, depression, and overall uncertainty. As I lost my job, I decided to try an idea that had been (insecurely) brewing in the back of my head since getting my first job: being an entrepreneur, a freelancer. I started a company (ollisuoranta.com), and now I'm offering services in the realms of UX, let it be design, development, graphic design, or even music.

So, let’s keep creating.

—Olli Suoranta