• A Full Spectrum of Voices

    A Full Spectrum of Voices

    Designers have the ability to amplify voices. That is the nature and purpose of our jobs – to help people and companies to become louder, and for their ideas to be heard and spread around to others. I love doing this; it's the main reason I am in this line of work.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about my responsibility as a designer. Whose voice(s) am I working to amplify? How can I help raise the voices of those who are not benefiting from privilege? How can I avoid exclusively boosting the voices that are already loudest (due to wealth, race, gender, etc)? And, how do I do this and still make a living?

    I recognize my power as a professional designer, and I’d like to use it in a way that doesn’t contribute to a monoculture of limited perspectives. I want to find a way to diversify the concepts I help to advance, in whatever small way I can; to hear viewpoints of people of all types, understand them, and design for them with an attitude of absolute respect. And I want their voices – not mine –to be reflected in the work that I create.

    I've been asking myself: How can I help to promote a wider spectrum of ideas? How can I do this and still make a living? I still don’t know the answer, but if you’ve got an interesting angle, let’s talk.

  • What are the Wild Waves Saying? Pt. 2

    What are the Wild Waves Saying? Pt. 2

    One of the many reasons I moved to Portland was to be nearer creative people I admire. I wanted a closer look. What informs their work? How did they get to this level? What are they thinking about and what does a conversation with them entail? This city has been exceptionally kind and welcoming, and I’ve somehow ended up in the company of some truly inspirational friends.

    Lately I’ve had the opportunity to work after-hours and weekends with some of my favorite designers. The hours have been picking up – enough to support myself – and it feels like it’s time for me to throw myself into an exciting and terrifying situation: full-time freelancing.

    Of course, I never would have had this opportunity without SecretPenguin. Dave took me in as a naïve college student and helped me become the designer I am today. I’ve learned so much from him and SecretPenguin. I wouldn’t be able to do this without Dave’s trust in me over the years, and I am incredibly grateful.

    I have a lot of feelings – happiness, fear, optimism, uncertainty, extreme gratitude – but I’m ready to do more scary things and experience a whole lot of inspiriority.

    Grateful. Thank you. More, please.


    Read Dave's post.

    Read "What are the Wild Waves Saying" Pt 1

  • Inspiriority

    I've lived in Portland for about eight months now. A big factor in my decision to move was that I wanted to be surrounded by a bunch of new people who are way way more badass and great at what they do than I am at what I do. So many Portlanders have these crazy and wonderful ideas, and execute them flawlessly and delightfully - whether they're designers, animators, musicians, chefs, barbers, skateboarders, or donut-makers.

    I have seen fantastic talks by these types of people, thanks to things like Design Week PortlandCreative Mornings, and Show & Tell. Each time I'm left with the feeling of a fluttering head accompanied by a pit in my stomach. It is inspiration plus total, complete inferiority, or what I'm going to call inspiriority.

    It seems that the best way for me to make use of inspiriority is to do things that I don't know how to do, or that I'm afraid of doing, or that make me feel uncomfortable.


    I used to carry around a notebook which contained a list of things I was afraid of doing. Each spring, I'd make myself do some of the things. It never ended badly – usually it was a brief moment of terror followed by the near absence of fear.

    Living here compels me to be crossing things off the list all the time. I've been introducing myself to creatives I admire, playing charades with new friends (I am shy-ish), learning to skateboard, and sending my dad a recording of myself singing (my biggest fear). I want to do more.

    Here's to using inspiriority to propel myself into the unknown.

  • Why Do I Design?

    Why Do I Design?

    I had an epiphany during XOXO about why I love design.

    I have always loved to do creative things, like draw, or make books, or throw on the wheel. But I never could really make meaningful work on my own without a prompt. I didn’t consider myself an artist.

    I had thought that that’s why I loved design – because I liked creative work but needed to be prompted from an outside source. But during Christina Xu‘s talk (about Breadpig – they basically provide a ton of help for people to make their ideas reality) I realized something.

    The reason I love design is not because I like kerning, or because I like to Solve Problems, or even because I like doing creative work (though I do like those things).

    I love it because I want to help people unleash and connect their ideas with other people. The thing I can offer is support for the fantastic contributions people can make by way of great design and strategy.

    I want to help get those things into the world – be it a great restaurant, or an empowering message, or an event to bring the community together – by partnering with these smart and passionate people to make something meaningful.


    Originally written in September, 2013