What motivates you to mentor creatives?
What’s your current role and origin story as a creative?
I’m a Product Designer with roots in all creative fields, from sketching and painting, to graphic design, to web design, and now UX. Growing up, I was obsessed with colorful characters like Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and Bakugan. I remember all kinds of toys and coloring books that I would play with and draw in, and it was the greatest way to evoke my imagination.
Then in my early teens, I was introduced to WWE. The characters on-screen were flashy, charismatic, larger-than-life, and each one wore the coolest merchandise and gear — I was hooked. When I got my Xbox 360, I purchased a wrestling game. In it, there was a special “Creation Suite”, which allowed players to create their own wrestling characters from scratch, and use them for play.
I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent, across over 6 years worth of games, creating my own characters and designing every bit of their look, from logos to colors to wrestling tights. This sandbox was my photoshop, and it's where I originally got a taste of graphic design.
When I reached High School, I got to choose a 4-year art program, and fortunately, I ended up choosing Visual Arts. I spent those years learning about the elements of art and the principles of design. I was taken back into art history and practiced every art style and technique — from value shading, to drawing illuminated manuscripts, stretching my own canvas, and even sewing.
These foundations inspired me to earn a degree in Marketing — which at a time felt like a sweet spot between designing things and making a decent living in the business industry. When experiencing this degree, I realized that graphic design was a small niche within the widespread Marketing umbrella, and I was inspired to pursue branding specifically.
I also knew if I wanted to be successful, especially with modern education systems that are far from perfect, I needed to step beyond the classroom to teach myself. I followed designers and creators like Chris Do of The Futur, learned about the intersections of branding and design, purchased an Adobe Creative subscription, and got started. I joined a student club as Graphic Designer to build professional experience, and eventually landed an internship role at a MarTech startup.
That was a long journey, but looking back, the dots connect themselves. Every step I took and every piece of information I learned — all led to crafting a talent and skill in design. I’m grateful for each moment and am thankful for everyone that contributed to me heading down this path.
What creative work(s) are you the proudest of?
The first piece of work is an acrylic painting of Niagara Falls that I made back in 2016. This was an important moment of recognition for myself. This was when I finally realized that maybe I WAS made for the arts. Maybe this is my true calling, if I can just find a way for it to make sense (in terms of career, etc.). My friends and family admired this piece as well, and it was a proud moment when I hung it up in our home.
Second, I’m sharing the full redesign of my startup’s website, which became a crown achievement of my internship, and helped solidify my transition into a FTE for the company. I was commissioned by our CMO to help redesign and front-end develop (via Webflow) our entire marketing website. Although I was the solo designer, my CMO and Head of B2B Marketing continuously mentored and guided me through this project. I’m thankful to them and to the company for this amazing opportunity to create this unrivaled portfolio piece.
What’s your current “creative studio”/desk setup like?
My desk setup is a snug and tidy space. I have a sharp 24” Dell monitor that extends my laptop display. My laptop sits nicely below, which I use as my main keyboard and mouse. A neat file organizer slash monitor stand works wonderfully in holding my supplies, and for displaying fun little knickknacks. I’ve got the cutest Groot-head pencil holder on the left (past Christmas gift), and my go-to UX books on the right. And that’s my space!
Where do you go to get inspired?
Coming from a graphic design background, brand identity design has always interested me, and I can never get enough of a beautiful on-brand packaging design execution. When I need to clear my mind of digital input from Pinterest and Behance, I head out to my local Target, and it's my favorite place.
I’ll find myself cruising the food and toiletry isles first — mostly because that was my excuse to be there anyways. I admire Target and their Helvetica Neue brand identity, but I also find they have a bunch of private label brands that resemble e-comm brands and have really fun, colorful, and thoughtful art direction.
Then I move to electronics, gaming, and books areas. You’ll find countless examples of eye-catching design work, that’s supposed to be displayed in the home in some capacity. From video game cover art, to a variety of book covers printed using various techniques, to the beauty of product design in home electronics.
I find myself recharged by seeing assorted physical products and their packaging, which definitely helps cleanse the palette for a new digital-first designer like myself.
Do you have a ritual, or time of day that unleashes your creative powers?
Like intermittent fasting is a famously effective way at losing weight and getting fit, intermittent designing is my process to unleashing my creative powers. My workday ebbs and flows, and at certain points, I can crash hard from the extra dopamine that comes from excitable designing.
I wake up to a light, but powerful breakfast and get started at 9 AM. It takes me doing some light work, like responding to emails and planning out my calendar, to get me started. Like a roller coaster, I begin building upwards momentum in the following hours, and reach a peak state from 12 PM - 1 PM. After a relaxing 1-hour lunch break, I’m reenergized for a 3 PM - 5 PM sprint, and I accomplish a lot here.
With the eventual crash in dopamine, I usually take a power nap as soon as work ends at 5 PM, and I’m back up around 6 PM for 2 more hours of focused work. It’s in the evening, when the sun goes down, and it feels like the fresh night has just begun — that’s when I find that I can again do my best work.
What’s an album that changed your life?
Living in a city, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of stimuli, it’s important to slow down and just focus sometimes. For me, discovering ambience music has changed both my work and downtime sessions. My favorite is Harry Potter ambience music that combines variations of the classic John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme”, and the countless musical sequences of the HP films.
Whenever I listen, nostalgia transports me back to my early days getting introduced to this series I admire so much. During my UX work, when I’m using every single brain muscle, this ambience music puts me in zen mode and helps me dial in focus. It’s one of the things I look forward to doing most, besides actually designing during work, and it's unmatched how effective it is for me!