Big things are happening.

In the last month I've managed to complete my senior thesis, publish a booklet that has reached an international audience and has been unofficially endorsed by Minneapolis Children's Hospital, graduated with my BFA in graphic design, and power through four seasons of Chuck on Netflix.

I will call that a bit of success on my part. Cue tooting of own horn.

Despite a relative lack of success landing a job in Minneapolis, I chock it up to "all for the best" since we will be relocating to the DC area on the coast. And that means a brand new community of designers with whom I am excited to share my first design career. This opportunity has also allowed me to step back and evaluate what I really want in a workplace. While ad agencies sounded very sexy and elusive a few months ago, 60 hours and working on weekends did not, so I have since shifted gears to new goals.

If you live in the DC area, or know someone who does, please feel free to reach out! I'm looking forward to meeting new people out there, and hope to do so via some AIGA DC events.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for a wave of posts of what I've been up to these past few months; think design work onesie-twosies that didn't make the official portfolio showcase cut, but are still fun to share and did take time to create. Until then, what's your best DC advice?

The end is near! (and it's about damn time)

To anyone and everyone who is reading this, thank you.

If your schedule is anything like mine, chances are that you have a tiny bit of guilt for reading this because you should probably be doing something else. Whether it's doing the dishes, playing with your kid, finishing (or starting) some homework, or trying to create the next big idea, I hear you. This final semester of school has been a heavy dose of learning some time and stress management, but the fact remains that regardless of the outcome of all these projects, I WILL be graduating.

So keep an eye out for lots more awesome, and some updates on what I've been up to. I'm pretty excited about it, and I can't wait to share it with you!

I also can't wait to sleep for the first time in months. That sounds pretty rad.

When it rains...

Wowzers. It has been a crazy few weeks.

Life has turned a complete 180 and instead of watching Netflix marathons all day, I find myself doing a myriad of new projects! Here's a summary of my change in luck:

  1. Landed first freelance gig doing logo and symbol design for a small upstart web design business called Uptown Butter (see below).
  2. June 6, 2014 is a day that will live on in "famy." I channeled my interview skills at two (2!) interviews this week, and received call-backs from both. That leads us to...
  3. You are now looking at the newest (only?) photography intern for the Hennepin County Libraries, as well as one of the new design interns for Make-A-Wish Minnesota.
  4. Later that week I received an email and was paired with a mentor with graphic design experience through the American Corporate Partners Veteran Mentorship Program

The kick-off event for this streak of good luck goes to the guys at Uptown Butter, Ricky and Jim. I met Ricky at the See Change conference (mentioned earlier) thanks to the introduction by Smitty. After a few weeks, Ricky reached out to me and said he and his business partner were looking for someone to do some design work for them, and I happily obliged! Keep an eye out for a slick new logo for these guys, and look them up if you own a business and need some marketing/web design help (particularly in the Athens, OH area). They're great!

Next, I am beyond excited to get some on-the-job design experience through my two newest opportunities. Over the summer, I will be taking a variety of photos for the Hennepin County Libraries for use in their online and print publications. I will also be starting a six-month internship doing design work for Make-A-Wish Minnesota. For those unfamiliar, the Make-A-Wish Foundation is an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, and this chapter focuses specifically on kids living in Minnesota. I'm excited to intern for such a high-profile organization, and who wouldn't want to serve these kids and their families?

Finally, I got an email saying the ACP mentorship program found me a mentor with design experience! It was a total shot in the dark since I think the majority of the mentors that volunteer are more business-driven (hence the "corporate") in their careers. So thank you, Ben, for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with me! For any of you veterans out there, whether you're creative-minded or not, you should definitely look into this program. It doesn't hurt to at least fill out the application and see if something comes your way. Although my mentor lives down in Atlanta, GA, having a monthly phone conversation and exchanging emails is better than no help at all! 

Here's to new beginnings, and getting this design train rolling full steam ahead.

See Change Conference 2014. Just, wow.

Want to know what happens when you get a bunch of creatives in the same room? Sparks, rockets, and pigs all start flying, just from the amount of sheer innovation and ideation they bring to the party. And it was a party, because the hummus platter and glass of wine told me so.

I was fortunate enough to find myself with a ticket (which found its way onto our bank statement) to the See Change conference this year, and with $100 off the discounted price, I was hard-pressed to pass it up. It would only be this year and the next that the covetable $25 student pricing would be applicable, so I got on it like white on rice.

I wouldn't have even known about the event* if it weren't for a seemingly-random connection my step-dad Tom had with a ham radio buddy of his who was coming up for the event. This friend, who goes by the name of Smitty, just happened to know the director of the event, Mary K. Baumann (from Hopkins Baumann). Smitty was a driving force in the area of photo-journalism as a professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism, and apart from having Baumann as one of his students, he was a sponsor and created the brain-child that is the See Change conference which started back in 2009. 

(Google "R. Smith Schuneman" for a ridiculous list of commemorations and accomplishments, including an annual photojournalism symposium in his namesake, no big deal. Not to mention he's an all-around nice guy with a wonderful wife, Pat.)

 *I probably got a newsletter email about it from my school, but when you get 3-4 of those emails a week, most of the info which rarely applies to you, you tend to not read them. Like, ever.

The world's most adorable event booklets, about 3"x5".

The world's most adorable event booklets, about 3"x5".

It was a pretty bold move in and of itself for me to attend a conference without reaching out to classmates for a meet-up, but that's what you have to do to get yourself out there sometimes. I learned that despite my outspoken nature in the classroom, I'm still a terrible networker if you throw me into a big crowd of people by myself (cue deer-in-headlights face). Come to find out, this is actually pretty common.

The conference included the likes of Aby Wolf (musician who literally blew my mind with her solo-made, 10+ voice "acapella"), Douglas Kirkland (photographer who's been in the biz since the 40s and has an impressive resume), Bonnie Siegler (voted amongst 50 most influential designers today), and our very own Barry Kudrowitz (product design professor who I believe to be somewhat of a doppelgΓ€nger of Parks and Rec's Ben Wyatt), amongst others. It really was an all-star cast, and it was amazing to be breathing the same air as these people.

Here are some terrible photos discreetly taken during the conference: (sorry, no amount of Photoshopping could have redeemed these images)

Douglas Kirkland!

Douglas Kirkland!

Bonnie Siegler!

Bonnie Siegler!

It was 1.25 days full of inspiration, storytelling, and learning from others' experiences. It was almost like having our own little TED Talk right in Coffman Memorial, and with (probably) less than 200 people in the crowd, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. But still sold out! I also took the opportunity to pick up one of Kirkland's books "Freeze Frame," which highlights the last five (FIVE) decades of his career, and he graciously signed for me once we came to a consensus on what my name was.

Collage 2014-05-16 12_32_57.jpg

I learned that a small act can cause the ripple effect and make waves in the lives of others and their communities. I learned it's often those who have nothing that give everything, and are happy to do so. Always think that the wolf is at the door. Include just the right amount of wrong. The future is not something that you enter, it's something you create. And creativity/innovation happens a lot more effectively and often if there is some humor involved.

Mind explosion.

All in all this was a fantastic experience, and while I didn't make as many connections as I wanted to, I'm sure I'll be able to make more in the future. It certainly inspired me to get this blog started and go nuts with social media. I think within the last 2 days I've started following 20 new design-related Twitter-ers. Tweeters? Twits? Whatever. And I've discovered there are few things more exciting than getting random (real) people to follow you! I also had the great pleasure of meeting Ricky, a small business owner who came all the way from Athens, Ohio. As it turns out, he and his partner may need some design services in the future.


Until next year, let's see how much change we can make!


Interesting links you might find interesting: (Interested yet?)

See Change Conference Website  (Check it out, especially if you're in the Twin Cities. I'd love to meet up with you next year!)

Aby Wolf

Douglas Kirkland's Portfolio

8.5 - Bonnie Siegler's Design Studio