Hello 2018!

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

Top Three Lessons Learned in 2017:

  1. You get what you put into it. I cannot expect things to simply fall in place because I’m willing it with my mind. Just like in data management, garbage in equals garbage out. If I don’t put in the effort required to achieve my goals, then I will not be successful. This means consistently pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and challenging myself to do the things that frighten me the most.
  2. Know thyself and stay in thy wheelhouse. At the intersection of “what I’m good at” and “what I enjoy doing” is where I need to be. Writing, editing, and making it all look pretty is my sweet spot.
  3. Fake it til you make it… within reason. Goes along well with point #2. Fake it til you make it is great, unless you know that you will never make it (whatever it may be). As much as I enjoy graphic design and art in general, I’m not a good graphic designer in a broader sense. Yes, I have some technical knowledge and enough background to be able to do graphic design, but it’s not within my wheelhouse. I defer most graphic design requests to my wickedly talented colleagues because it is within their wheelhouse, which frees up my time to do what I do best. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you’re not good at something; it does not mean you’re not good at anything, just that particular thing.

Top Three Goals for 2018:

  1. Publish at least one blog post per month. Developing content for my blog has consistently been a weak point and a missed opportunity to generate a stronger online presence. I lack the discipline to follow through on personal projects, simply because it’s time spent away from paid work.  However, I understand the importance of “behind the scenes” activities that help to position me for bigger and better projects down the road, and all freelancers need to carve out some non-billable hours to work on the things that will eventually generate the billable ones.
  2. Attend at least one networking event per month. Setting the expectation for one consistent networking event per month is an achievable goal. Calgary is full of networking events for freelancers. Although I find it terrifying in the hours leading up to an event, 99.9% of the time it’s been a great experience (it’s never 100% perfect, but such is life). Whether it’s practicing my elevator pitch, connecting with new people, or feeling pepped up from an inspiring talk, it’s never a bad thing to leave the comfort of my home office and breathe some fresh air once in a while.
  3. Make better use of co-working spaces for enhanced productivity. Don’t get me wrong, working from home is fantastic. But for all the comfort and the ability to work in my pajamas, my productivity level often crumbles. The dark side of working from home is that it can become too comfortable, and the line between home and office often gets so blurred that it’s difficult to distinguish the two. For better accountability and productivity, my goal is to find a suitable co-working space that I can use at least two times per week.

Vector Art

Adobe Illustrator and I are not the best of friends. I’ve tried nurturing our turbulent relationship over the past year and a half, but I just don’t think Illustrator is that into me—or is it the other way around? (I think this may be one of the only truths we can agree on.) My lofty goal from 2016–2017 was to create a vector illustration each week, for a project called Illustrator 52. As with most projects, I bolted out of the gate with excitement and trepidation. I managed to keep consistent with the challenge for the first few weeks. But then I got bored and frustrated. Coming up with new designs was time consuming. And because it was a personal (aka not gonna get any money for this) project—even though I was cultivating useful design skills—it still felt like a giant waste of time. Especially considering that I wasn’t preparing to become a vector illustrator or fancy graphic designer. (I love InDesign. We understand each other. Our relationship is one of mutual trust and respect.)

However disappointing it was to abandon the Illustrator 52 project at not even the halfway point, I did manage to create worthy pieces that I would not be ashamed to share with the public. It also taught me the value of knowing myself and being honest about my capabilities as a vector illustrator. I am not meant to wield the mighty tablet pen and create gorgeous vector renditions that rival the best of photographs. It’s not a skill set that I need. Better to focus my efforts on what I’m best at—document design.

Here are a selection of my best and favourite vector illustrations.

Designer Spotlight: Ricky Luu

The first Designer Spotlight of 2017 is reserved for my friend and fellow designer, Ricky Luu of illuustrations. As luck would have it, our paths would cross while we were both walking new (and uncertain) paths; we converged in what would become our home (classroom) for the 8-week fast-track graphic design certificate program at SAIT, where we ended up sitting next to each other. This became a pretty sweet partnership that saw us rock an awesome presentation about printing on cans (“Fun with Cans”) and then knock it out of the park on our final group project.