I’ve been a digital designer since 1998, when I was first exposed to Bryce and Adobe Photoshop 3. Originally a Computer Information Systems major, I stumbled upon a digital art class that changed the course of my career.
I then studied illustration, branding, and multimedia which included audio engineering and user interface design for web and CD-ROM (woah) in Macromedia Director. I wanted to bend the standard of boxy user interfaces to make them more artful and experiential in nature, combining sound, video and animation. I would spend hours at night creating beautiful 3D landscapes and then wait days for the animations to render. I built my own computers and for fun I would take them apart just to clean the dust out 🤓.
My first job was as a Multimedia Designer creating and building user interfaces for pharmaceutical drug training CDs. The content was so boring, but it was my job to make the experience feel enticing, and I loved it. The interfaces were originally built using Flash or Director, but by 2002 things were evolving to web-only.
Next, I worked as an illustrator at a branding company that also built small company websites. This was in 2003 when Dreamweaver and tables were the thing. I remember first understanding the term “pixel-perfect” around this time, and, as someone with OCD-like 👀, it was exciting to have a standard to which I could aspire.
Going it solo
From 2009-2016 I hustled as a freelancer. I did everything from photography, graphic design, expo graphics, website builds, and digital marketing — things that combined code and graphics were my favorite projects. I loved the dev side (like building themes for self-hosted WordPress sites), as much as the graphics side.
When freelancing started to eat away at my social abilities 😬, I got a gig at a marketing agency. They had one graphic designer that didn’t code or even know what SVGs were, and they had one developer who didn’t touch graphics. I freelanced at first, and then lovingly showed them how much they needed me to bridge this gap, and they hired me.
Eventually I felt like I couldn’t do any more of the same thing. I started reading about user experience, design thinking, and a bunch of other expressions that are now part of my vernacular. It was as if I finally had terms that defined what made sense and was important to me the whole time 🤔 — to build the solution for the user, not the maker; to set aside egos and use research to prove creations; to test and iterate because the times they’re always a-changin'. To make things usable for everyone.
In April, 2018 I was certified in the Akendi CXD UX Design Certification program in Montréal, Canada, where I realized that the heart of any effective design process is research and iteration.
While I worked at the marketing agency, I used my user-centered perspective to help build better products. I talked to the team about usability testing and tried it on a project to prove my findings. I explored analytic data to build more effective email campaigns and landing pages. Ultimately, the agency wasn’t willing to invest in a proactive research approach, so I decided to go work with a UX team that had research and testing capabilities, which is where I am today.
I’m currently enrolled in Portland State University’s Design Thinking and Innovation program, concluding in early 2020. Elsewhere, you can find me involved in PDXWIT.
Outside of work I enjoy hiking, snowshoeing and traveling. This year I climbed over 350 miles, including summiting Mt St. Helens with some friends. I’m also confident enough these days with yarn and my hooks to crochet actual, wearable pieces. :)
This site includes snapshots of projects as I originally designed and intended for them to be. As most WordPress web dev goes, a lot of the responsibility post-launch gets handed down to the client to manage their content. In some cases sites degrade because budgets fall flat and staffs struggle internally to integrate high-quality content management.