Industry or specialization:
I’m an independent graphic and UX/UI designer.
My speciality isn’t confined to a specific industry but rather in delivering versatile designs that cater to the unique needs of diverse clients. From corporations to solopreneurs, I’ve worked across the spectrum, and I enjoy the challenge each project brings. Rather than having a “signature style,” I pride myself on being adaptable and flexible.
What got you into Web Design/working on the web?
Once upon a time, I had dreams of being a curator at an art museum, thanks to my Art History and Studio Art background. But life had a different plan, my first full-time job was in corporate HR. This was a far cry from my previous part-time roles of manual labor and waiting tables. Having a cubicle and air conditioning felt like an upgrade until a thousand paper cuts later. Filing papers and replace ink cartridges had me feeling like I was living in a real-life version of “Office Space.”
My eyes would often wander to the creative department at my company. They were loud and seemed to actually enjoy what they did. Because I had written many of their offer letters, I also knew they got paid well. If I wanted to do something more stimulating than create pretty org charts, I needed to learn Adobe Creative Suite and not work in Microsoft Publisher or Powerpoint ever again.
My next stop was a small SaaS [Software as a Service] company where I began as an administrative assistant but soon found myself wearing the designer hat. I rebranded them, re-did all their print materials and redesigned as much of their software interface as they would allow. I loved it but I also knew I was playing by ear and needed formal training.
Fortunately a local portfolio school was hosting a weekend web design workshop. This seemingly simple event was a game-changer for my life. I secured a part-time junior designer role, networked with influential people who would later hire me full-time, and enrolled in the school’s “interactive design” program. Before graduating, I landed my first agency internship.
I was making stuff again, working with talented colleagues, and loving the dynamic pace of it all.
What does a typical day or week look like for you? What sort of things do you do?
As a self-employed designer for the past 15 years, I’ve swapped agency life for the flexibility of working from home — or an RV! From 2020-2022, my web developer husband and I embraced nomadic living, working across the US in our Airstream travel trailer before settling in Charlottesville, VA. All we need is stable internet and power!
My typical workday blends client communication, getting up to speed on new projects, searching for inspiration, doing actual design work and revisions, task planning, and deadline juggling. Lunch breaks are for keeping up-to-date with new design tools and tutorials. Being self-employed also means doing bookkeeping, taxes, and payroll — I’ve learned a lot from working in multiple states!
What types of software do you use most often to do your web design work?
Adobe Creative Suite is my creative home base — especially Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I prefer to use Figma or Sketch for web or anything digital. Bonsai keeps my bookkeeping in order.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My job is good to me on multiple levels.
Firstly, it’s all about the people. I adore my advertising comrades and relish the chance to be a creative lifeline for them. Learning from various teams over the years has sharpened my ability to predict client needs. My ultimate reward is creating work that not only impresses clients but also makes life easier for my colleagues.
Secondly, the dynamic blend of projects keeps me buzzing. From vehicle wraps to app interfaces, logos to trade show booths — each week brings fresh creative challenges. The freedom to choose who I work with, the projects I undertake and my working hours, adds a layer of flexibility that I cherish.
Lastly, the joy of enhancing things — crafting aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly solutions feels really good to be a part of. I enjoy redesigns more than starting from scratch. I’m all about a good before-and-after transformation!
What do you wish you could change about your job?
While I love my job, I do wish for a healthier work-life balance in our industry. The relentless deadlines and sedentary lifestyle can take a toll on one’s wellbeing.
Despite being a senior-level designer, the nature of my self-employment has me deeply involved in production. I yearn for more opportunities to offer creative direction and mentorship. It’s nice to be able to share my expertise while enabling others to execute the details.
Where do you see your section of the web design industry going?
We’re in an exciting era for web design, with innovative tech like Figma revolutionizing our efficiency levels. The surge in low-code/no-code design and AI assistance is saving us significant time. While I can’t predict the future, it’s clear that these advancements won’t replace us but rather empower us to deliver more, faster. This translates into serving more clients and making better design more accessible.
What technology and/or skill do you wish you learned before you entered the industry?
Often, I’m asked if I can do animation or SEO — these are skills I currently lack but recognize as increasingly valuable given the appeal of engaging videos and optimized web content.
However, the skill I truly wish I had mastered before entering this field is the art of defending my work. A client’s financial power sometimes leaves us at their mercy. But when the partnership is balanced, open discussions can occur. Hence, mastering persuasive conversations to educate clients on our choices and their benefits is crucial. This not only ensures the best results for the client but also strengthens our professional relationship.
What are you looking to learn or what skill are you looking to build next?
At the moment, I’m enthusiastically exploring Figma and its potential. Webflow is also on my list!
What would you tell someone to do who’s looking to get into the industry? How should they best prepare themselves?
For aspiring designers, it’s crucial to remember that we’re not artists creating for ourselves, but professionals crafting solutions for clients. It can be challenging when clients take our concepts in unexpected directions, but every piece of feedback holds opportunities for growth. It’s helpful to embrace a “Don’t get butthurt. Just get better.” mindset.
Also, disagreements on direction are normal. Express your concerns, fulfill what’s asked, and if possible, present an alternative direction. Remember, we’re not just decorators; we’re strategic problem solvers. Ultimately the best idea should win, but what gets produced comes down to feasibility. If you want to have the winning design and lead the project, dream big, but also stay grounded in reality.
Anything else you’d like to tell future web designers?
Don’t hesitate to experience diverse work environments. From independent designers to small shops and large agencies, each offers unique insights. Working independently teaches you business management. Big agencies offer specialization opportunities with prestigious brands and the chance to meet more people. Small shops provide rapid learning and varied roles. There’s no right or wrong; it’s about finding what suits you. My preference for variety led me to prefer smaller shops, where I could dabble in everything from directing photoshoots (once from a helicopter), dabbling in music production (singing is another passion of mine), practicing public speaking and mentoring new creatives. Explore and find what fuels you!
Is there a way people can get in contact with you to ask questions etc?
Last Question: If you had to be a zombie and you had to eat someone’s brains, whose would it be and why?
Well, as a petite person, I think strategically choosing someone brawnier to than me would boost our collective zombie prowess. But can a zombie plan so cunningly? I certainly hope we never have to find out!