I have been a designer for over seventeen years and I can say I truly love what I do. It’s always a special thrill to take a bunch of random information and organize it into something beautiful.
I would describe my design aesthetic as clean and minimal. Everything on the page serves a purpose. I also practice pixel perfect linear design.
Over my career I have worn many hats; Flash animator, html email designer, web designer, front end developer, visual designer and currently UI/UX designer, I am always evolving. I am primarily focused on UX design.
Specialties: Web/Interactive Design, Visual Design, Flash Animation, experience in Information Architecture and User Experience
My Design Career has taken several twists and turns over the years. It has been an interesting and unique journey. I never had aspirations to be a designer I did not choose a career in design, somehow my career chose me.
I owe my career to my mom. I grew up in a middle class, blue collar home. I never considered a creative career. After my second year/college I moved back home and had no direction. One Saturday morning I was woken up by my mom and forced to go with my sister to see what the Illinois Institute of Art had to offer. I saw their presentation on multimedia design and I instantly fell in love with the program. That morning changed the course of my academic and professional life. I suddenly found purpose and direction. If it wasn’t for my mom I fear where my career would be today.
In June of 2000 I was getting ready to graduate college, as I was prepping my portfolio and trying to interview for my first job I realized I didn’t know Flash.
At the time Flash was one of the hottest programs in interactive and everyone wanted a Flash designer/animator. I spoke to my web design professor; she spent two hours teaching me the basics. I mastered Flash and became an excellent animator. The first 7 years of my career was dominated by Flash projects. This was also an excellent lesson in design as I learned how to use key frames to improve my work. Eventually, Steve Jobs killed Flash and I had to adapt.
I look at my career as before and after Motorola. I am so thankful for my time there as I learned more than I could express. I took the role as a way to learn CSS, at the time it was a newer language and I was doing some front-end development. This helped me understand what developers dealt with as well as forced me to have to consider build issues while doing design.
My manager, Frank Lawlor was also the one taught me linear and minimal design. He pulled me aside to discuss my work and explained how having things “line up” makes such a huge difference in the appearance of layout. He also was the first person to explain minimalistic design to me. Once I realized that everything on the page must serve a purpose and “looking cool” was not the most important aspect of a design my abilities increased ten fold. I am forever in debt to Frank for taking the time to try to help me and teaching me about what makes a good design. In many ways he helped me find the passion for design that I didn’t even realize I was lacking.
Freelance & UX
Freelance & UX
I have spent over thirteen years as a freelancer/contractor. As a contractor it is more or less “sink or swim.” Needless to say I had to learn how to swim quickly. The other aspect of design contracting is being the sole designer. In a majority of my contracts it was a developer or two and me. I did work on some teams, but mainly I was on my own. As the sole designer I learned how to do user research, wire frames, basic UX, prototyping, etc. I was doing this well before I ever heard the term “UX.” I learned through trial and error. I didn’t even realize I was doing user experience work until a recruiter explained it to me. I always thought those steps were simply part of the web design process. Had I not done the freelance contracts and took a chance on myself I would never have learned how to become a UX designer.