As a child I was extremely curious, I thought my love for experiments meant that I was going to be a scientist one day. Spoiler: That love for experimentation has turned into a passion for user experience design and testing. When I was a kid I would make “potions” and test them out on my aunts and younger sister. This has lead to many Thanksgiving horror stories about the things I made inspired by the want to be creative, disastrous. Design, am I right?
I have a BFA in Graphic Design from West Virginia University and a MFA in Design for Social Innovation from the School of Visual Arts. Through my two degrees, I learned the design basics and how to design with communities. My first few jobs were thankfully with organizations that boasted good design while also having missions focused on philanthropic service, these companies being KIPP: New Jersey, charity: water, and UncommonGoods.
I’m pretty new to San Francisco so it hasn’t rubbed off on my design work yet, but my hometown Newark, NJ surely has. Being from Newark has prompted me to be a designer who collaborates, is empathetic, and determined. Being from Newark has taught me to seek clients with big passion over big budgets.
The best piece of advice I’ve received is from the director of my grad program, Cheryl Heller. “Don’t be a bullet point.” As a young designer I spent a ton of time trying to brand myself and simplify my style down to a sentence. All that resulted in was that I constantly looked at the work of others rather than just creating. Once I gave up on trying to figure out my “personal brand”, made a commitment to being complex, and focused on making something new everyday, my style came to me naturally.
Six months ago I joined the Creative Studio at Allbirds as a Visual Designer. On top of this being a total dream job, I’m growing as a designer as Allbirds is growing as a company. The next 12 months for me are going to be transformational and full of learnings both professionally and personally. I’m so excited! I also recently adopted a dog so I’m expecting this year to be full of cuddles and walks, too.
Don’t chase names, take on as many freelance projects as possible, big and small. This is the time to learn about not designing for yourself, keep your ego low. Also, freelance isn’t free. Take pride in your work and get paid.