I'm a user experience designer and I love what I do! I think being a product strategist and problem solver in a very large and imperfect world requires a lot of hustling, critical thinking, and reflection. I've come to recognize that every day is an opportunity to enjoy the possibility of understanding the world around me and to contribute to it. I tweet a lot about design @ericajaclyn.
How did you get into design?
I like doing a lot of different things: writing, sketching, painting, building, karaoke. Creativity was a large part of my childhood in a variety of ways. Growing up, I liked painting, writing stories and essays, and I usually kept a daily journal. I evolved into the artist persona over time, but my brother–the scientist and mathematician–always inspired me. It’s fun, as we grow in our careers we’re both beginning to understand that we’re not so different after all. I first felt a connection to design in a high school literature program when I bombed a final paper on René Descartes’ “Mediations on First Philosophy”. In attempt to rectify my grade I accompanied the paper with six paintings, each illustrating my own perception of each meditation–and so began my fascination with the human equation. I continued to study perception, human behavior, and psychopathology in college. It was just after I graduated when I came to a clearer realization that I had a deep interest in design, so I taught myself how to use Photoshop and learned how to code, snagged a couple of internships in NYC and began to pursue a career in user interface design.
What does your typical workday look like?
I do a lot of sketching, writing, whiteboard brainstorming, and coffee drinking. I engage with other designers on my team, engineers, managers, marketing, and Clients on a regular basis. I love each and every different perspective. I like the team dynamic of design thinking and working through a process together. Everyone brings their own piece of the puzzle to the table and we work hard to pull great ideas out of each other and build great things.
What inspires and influences your work?
I've always felt that I have a responsibility and the ability to contribute to much larger things. How can I say – I think every step of the information seeking process in itself is inspiring: the confusion and complex orchestration of humans and their things. There's always something to reflect on from the past and something new to learn in the day to come – every moment counts, every moment is an experience. I'm driven by the thought of seeing and meeting people and circumstances that are both familiar and brand new. Every smile, every laugh, every mistake, and every failure that I experience and can share with others influences my work and why I do it.
A great article:
“Writing is Thinking” by Sally Kerrigan from A List Apart
What is one project you are most proud of?
Back in 2012, I painted a truck bumper I had found lying on the side of the road. I was taking a few classes at the Corcoran College of Art at the time and had focused on a long series of black and white ink drawings. I saw the bumper as the finishing piece to the series and an opportunity to put new material into my workflow. One of my classmates was a high school teacher studying at the Corcoran to receive her Masters degree. I greatly admired her work so I was extremely honored when she invited me to give a presentation to one of her senior AP Graphic Design classes. Walking into the class I was definitely nervous but extremely proud of the work I had done and just hugely inspired by the students and the entire experience.
Other projects that might be more useful:
How did you get introduced to Sketch and what do you like most about it?
It wasn’t long after I had started my first professional job as a web and mobile visual designer that I realized Photoshop wasn't very efficient for user interface design. I was extremely desperate to speed up my workflow, and although I was code savvy, I noticed gaps in communication between designers and developers. What I love most about Sketch is that it’s not overly complex or heavy and can be used by all parts of the team. It integrates with other great tools that are working to bridge the designer and developer communication gap like Zeplin. Sketch gives the designer just the right amount of space and the tools to do the job and do it well. It’s also made for user interface design, so naturally the user experience of the tool itself is by far greater than that of its’ competition.
Here’s a tutorial I wrote about one of Sketch’s features that I use often:
“Typography in Sketch 3: Linked Text Styles” on Medium
What are some of your favorite tools you use in your workflow?
I think my favorite tool that I use right now in my daily workflow is big whiteboard. Others include notebooks and journals, Post Its, Sketch, and books. Books are the most impactful tools for me: old books, new books, digital books, etc…though I prefer used books because I feel less guilty about writing in them.
Here are a few books that have been extremely helpful to me as a designer:
- “The Interaction of Color” by Joseph Albers (Free iOS App)
- “Envisioning Information” by Edward Tufte
- “Grid Systems in Graphic Design” by Josef Müller Brockman
- “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell
- “Universal Principles of Design” by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler
If you could go back in time and do something different what would it be?
I wouldn’t! If I changed my past I wouldn't be who I am today and I'm very proud of that. Not to mention, time travel would probably mangle a person’s psyche pretty badly.
What advice would you offer to those starting out in the field?
Design is multi-disciplined, it’s all about writing, discovery, math, and science. It’s a lot of trial and error. Don’t let others' ideas of what should be expected lead you or your work. There are a ton of free resources and amazing people out there to learn your trade from–use them!
To name a few:
- Design+Codeby Meng To
- Human Centered Design Toolkit from IDEO (Large PDF)
- Research in UX and Cognition from Jennifer C. Romano Bergstrom, Ph.D.
- Writings on Product Ideation & Design by Luke Wroblewsk
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
Right now it’s NYC because I miss the bustle. I don’t live there now, but I did once, there’s always something new every day, something old, and something smelly.