Reflection on 2012

At the end of last year I predicted that 2012 would be full of changes, and it certainly was. I’m grateful for love and support from close friends and family, and encouragement from mentors. Thank you to the people who kept me grounded during a whirlwind year. 

In 2012, I…

Graduated college in May. 

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Oh, happy day! After five years, I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a BFA in Graphic Design. 

Undergrads, a word of advice: I was contracting for a startup and finishing school at the same time. Do not do this. When your plate is too full, you end up half-assing some things. In the words of Ron Swanson, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” I spread myself too thin, and by the end I was exhausted.

On the bright side, I survived being in over my head. I clearly divided school and work in my mind by scheduling time for each. Every day, I determined the most important items I had to complete, then finished them first. When you’re drowning in to-do lists, efficiency is your best friend.

The UTC Art Department helped me find my voice–and the courage to speak up–as a young person. I learned how to think critically, make things with my hands, and to give and accept critique. I learned how to work in large groups, and let projects push my boundaries. I learned that I favor being part of a community, that I’m happiest there.     

Moved to Atlanta in June…

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Our house in Atlanta

…for exactly one month. I already had a job in San Francisco, and was itching to move. Stephen and I agreed that we would move together after he found a job in the city. One week after I moved to Atlanta, Stephen accepted a job at Airbnb. We spent the next two weeks saying goodbye to friends and family, and one week packing. 

Drove across the country with my love in July.

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Leaving my sister’s house in Nashville to begin our roadtrip.

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Our Tahoe Airbnb

Since Stephen was on his way to work at Airbnb, he planned each night of our trip with a different Airbnb host. In hindsight, we wish the trip had lasted longer, but we were so damn excited about moving.

Moved to San Francisco, and found an apartment in two weeks.

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Our first month in San Francisco was spent living out of suitcases with an Airbnb host. We discovered our cozy Bernal Heights apartment through a friend, and we were the first couple to tour the place. We were nervous because the landlord still held an open house the next day. Everything worked out in our favor, and we moved in August 1st.

Founded Form and Future.

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Form and Future started as my senior thesis, and grew into a long-term side project. Working on Form and Future has helped me learn about editing, writing, publishing, designing dynamic content, and marketing. When I graduated from UTC in May, I vaguely understood that I had more to learn about being a designer. Seven months later, I realize that I’m really just beginning.

Many influences in my life are sources of encouragement, advice, and contributions along the way. I’m deeply grateful for the following people, all of whom are fantasticly wonderful human beings. 

Rena Tom, Willo O’Brien, Matt Greenwell, Mandy Brown, Ryan Essmaker, Tina Essmaker, Nick Disabato, Stephen Bush, Allison Gay, Daniel Burka, Hannah Wei, Jason Beaird, Timoni West, Aarron Walter, Max Temkin, Julie Horvath, Shawn Collins, Ryan FreitasMark DiCristina, Allen Tan, Netta Marshall, Aaron Robbs, Cassie McDaniel

Said goodbye to about.me in September.

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Joining the about.me team completely changed my life, and I was lucky to get the gig. The people who make about.me are some of the kindest, smartest, most damn awesome dark-comedians to work with. Working closely with Shawn and Ryan taught me to never settle, always do my best, and ask for feedback frequently.

Leaving about.me was a difficult decision to make. Instead of working remotely, I wanted to work with senior designers in an office every day. In order to grow as a designer, I sensed a need to develop skills by working with clients. Saying goodbye was bittersweet, and I hope we get the chance to work together again.

Said hello to Smart Design in October.

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I was fortunate enough to join Smart Design as an interaction designer. The designers at Smart range from graphic design to industrial design, from interns to senior designers. Our clients range from OXO to companies that are working to bring their products and services into the future. Smart is a sincere company with a lot of heart, and I’m proud to work here.  

Onward, 2013!

I’m grateful for my life, and every person in it. There’s room to grow personally and professionally, and I look forward to doing so. Let’s all do our best this year.