What’s your dream project?
My dream project is to create a website for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This almost became a reality but the timing wasn’t right as I was expecting my first child when the opportunity came. Choosing between personal and work can be a tough wake up call for women.
What was your first job?
My first design related job was working at a company that focused on delivering patient and professional health education online. However, my very first paid gig came about when my friends in the third grade would ask me to create coloring books for 25 cents. This was followed by a high school friend that asked me to paint the cover of an AC/DC album on the back of his jean jacket for twenty bucks. These are just some examples of how I realized that I may be able to make a living creating art!
What has been the biggest change in office culture since you started your career?
When I first started my career in the basement of a row house, it wasn’t perceived as being professional– working from home or collaborating with many individuals. Both of these aspects are now acceptable norms and were accelerated by COVID.
When did you know that this career was what you wanted to do?
I knew when I was eight that I wanted to have a career in an art related field. I was lucky to have art teachers and friends that believed in me at an early age. It did take me a while to get there though because there was pressure to choose a career in medicine.
What led you to your current work?
I did not have the traditional pathway into the field through formal art instruction. With an early interest in art and a push towards medicine, I found that medical illustration helped me meld these two areas. I was lucky to have received some good advice and took a year of foundation art classes before entering a masters program in biomedical illustration at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. I also happened to be at the right place and the right time early on in my career. Web design was a new field and I found that my interest in psychology came into play as I enjoyed thinking about how users interacted with this new medium. My first job was as a medical illustrator tasked with bringing patient and professional information online. This planted the seed for my focus on user experience and designing to inform. My next job as a designer at a creative agency gave me the opportunity to learn how to design from my art director and seeing the work of my talented colleagues.