Design Census 2017 Results

March 1, 2018 8:22 am

2017 Design Census Graphic


Over 13,000 people participated in the 2017 Census (compared to 2016’s 9,500 participants). I’m so grateful that AIGA and Google partnered up for this project—it lends a lot of credibility to our field and helps advocate for the value of design.

…the goal is to move beyond basic salary conversations and collect information that can be used to empower the design community to take charge of its professional development and achieve greater happiness through insight.

A few highlights I thought were interesting…

Demographic Info

  • 60% White, 11.3% Multi-racial, 10.4% Asian, 8% Hispanic, 3% African American
  • 53% Female
  • 9.6% don’t have a degree

Industry Info

  • 28.6% work in agencies
  • 42.1% work in-house for a company
  • Organizations: AIGA, Creative Mornings, IXDA, Freelancers Union, AAF, Graphic Artists Guild, SEGD, D&AD, TDC, ADC

Compensation Info

Annual Salary Graph and Top 10 Benefits List

Travel + Technology

February 3, 2018 3:47 pm

Arts Abroad Map

During the Spring 2018 semester I’ll be co-leading an Arts Abroad course to France, Italy, and Switzerland. The course itself is a hybrid of Art, Music, and Literature content. Needless to say—I’m excited.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my research into tech products that can help out while traveling. I’ve listed links for these products to be purchased via Amazon for convenience sake.


You shouldn’t be too worried about how to entertain yourself because there are so many new things to experience and adventures to be had—but what about the hour after hour of travel time? Here are some of my favorite portable tech devices to keep you sane.

Get some reading in on the plane and during longer commutes between stops with an eReader. My preference is the Kindle Paperwhite. There is nothing like reading a real book, don’t get me wrong, but the convenience of thousands of books on one device that takes up less space than one average-sized book just can’t be beat. The battery life is amazing, you could probably go through your entire trip without needing to recharge! The e-ink backlit screen is actually comfortable on the eyes and the high contrast really helps with reading in bright areas with the sun glaring or in darker areas like an evening plane ride.

For the gamers out there—it doesn’t get much better in the portable gaming world than the Nintendo Switch. This system is perfect for on-the-go gaming with minimal sacrifice in graphic quality and the same high level of gameplay you are used to with your home consoles. Even better, you can break out the Joy-Con controllers into multiplayer mode and play with your travel buddies!

A close second in gaming consideration would be the Nintendo New 2DS XL or the Nintendo New 3DS XL. These system are a more traditional portable gaming environment with the pluses being better battery life and a smaller footprint when compared to the Nintendo Switch.

One more quick on-the-go gaming device to consider, the Arduboy. This device is a credit card sized portable gaming system. It is the definition of portable gaming. There are a few versions, the white Arduboy is a device that you can download open-source games onto and the purple Tetris MicroCard is a Tetris only version.

Music! I can’t imagine going a single day without listening to music in some way. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to relax and listen to some of your favorite tracks, dive into a podcast, or even fade away into an audio book. Here is a short list of earbuds and headphones you might like with a student budget in mind.

Power Accessories

Anker is my most trusted 3rd party brand for power-based accessories. I rarely risk straying outside of name brand power cords and batteries because they are highly specialized equipment that can easily hurt your devices if even the slightest thing is off or the quality isn’t there.

External battery portable charger Anker Portable Charger PowerCore. This battery is the workhorse of the group. You can charge multiple devices at once, even larger devices like iPads and other tablets. Depending on usage you could get 3 days or more out of this battery too, so no need to stress about recharging it too often.

Anker iPhone and iPad Cables

For daily battery needs with more portability, I’ve found the Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh Portable Charger to be the best option for most people. This device is pocket-sized, not too bulky, and comes with the most common cords you’ll need for cellphones built into it (micro USB and Lightning).

Of course you’ll want to consider some travel plug adaptors for all your devices. After doing a lot of research and cross referencing reviews—I’d recommend checking out Travel Adapter Kits by BESTEK


2017 Reading Challenge (Goodreads)

January 2, 2018 11:34 am

Well, I didn’t make it…

The success of the reading challenge from 2016 didn’t carry over into 2017—but I think I’m allowed a gimme on this one. Life happened in a big way in 2017 and reading (for fun) was just not a priority.

A few positive takeaways:

  • I read to my son for the first time! There couldn’t have been a more appropriate book than Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I can’t tell you how excited I am to make reading a big part of our lives together and a major part of his development and bonding time with me.
  • I dipped my toe into parenting books in 2016 and entered 2017 feeling confident that I didn’t need to obsess over that area of the book store. I’ve gained more and more confidence as a parent and know that I can make a safe, informed decision on how to handle X without needing to read 5 different resources on it. I appreciate that they exist and might browse them at different points in my parenting journey—I just don’t need to go overboard with it.
  • I’ve rekindled my love for non-traditional books with This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions by Kelli Anderson. What an amazing piece of art. I can’t get over the Ah-ha moments I’ve had with this book and how wonderful it will be to explore it with my son when he hits the right age.
  • Lastly, I’ve established a new tradition at Christmas time. With a new family comes an opportunity for new traditions. I decided I want to read The Night Before Christmas Pop-up by Clement Clarke Moore every Christmas Eve to my family. An added bonus to this tradition is the absolutely amazing pop-up book version I was able to find illustrated by Robert Sabuda and published by Little Simon. The ingenuity that goes into pop-up books is so humbling and creative—it doesn’t get much better in the world of children’s literature.


List of books I read in 2017

Developmental Courage

April 20, 2017 11:11 pm

You might say educators are the ultimate students. We tend to get into academia because we have a love for learning. If I was only able to give myself one label it would be “lifelong learner”—not Professor, not Designer, not Creative. In a field like design there is always something new—and that’s the #1 reason why I love it. You can never be bored as a designer. One moment you are designing for a client that manages a nursing home and in the same afternoon you could be developing a new branding for an energy drink—and then you start a side project called “Octogen”, an energy drink targeted at the 80 year old market…

The year I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in design is the year the first iPhone came out (2008). In other words, I had no instruction on developing for mobile devices, the state of web design was still deeply rooted in Flash animation, and there was really no such thing as a mobile app or mobile website. Luckily my art and design professors didn’t harp on trends in the field, instead they focused on teaching me the creative process and how to apply that process to a variety of opportunities. I didn’t graduate with a degree on how to use Adobe software or animate Flash websites—I graduated with the skills to be a creative problem solver with a flexible mindset and an inherit desire to learn. The demands of a modern designer are constantly changing. There is always a new platform, medium, or application for us to create on. There are new tools, methods, and techniques for things we’ve been doing for years or things we just learned 6 months ago.

After graduating I worked for Apple for a few years teaching people how to use technology and make the best of the tools Apple had to offer. We had a training session that revolved around “Developmental Courage”. 

Someone with Developmental Courage values learning more than comfort. Willing to risk public failure, deep frustration, and the repeated hopelessness of being at wit’s end all in the name of building new skills, awareness or knowledge. —unknown.

This concept struck a cord with me. I knew I was someone that always wanted to tackle the next thing, wanted to be better, but I never really defined it.

Summer “break” is right around the corner. Sure I’ll loaf around for a week or two and refresh—but I start to get that itch after a few days. My library card starts to burn a hole in my pocket. My Instapaper “read later” archive is yelling at me. That “someday maybe” list on my task manager starts to give me dirty looks. It’s time to muster up that developmental courage…

2016 Reading Challenge (Goodreads)

January 12, 2017 3:54 pm

New Year’s resolutions are not usually my thing. In the grand scheme of things I think they are usually only good for setting yourself up to be disappointed. In 2016 I decided I would set a general goal to read more (with a loose goal of 18 books); not lose 100 pounds or speak fluent French (something way to ambitious). I told myself I wanted to read more—specifically read more for fun.

I’ve enjoyed using Goodreads (social network for bookworms) to keep lists of books I want to read or have read, rate and review books, mark my progress, and get book recommendations. As I look back on the books I read last year I’m reminded of how nerdy I am…

There will always be a slew of design books, a steady dose of Maurice Sendak, Graphic Novels, and a few targeted Self-Improvement books. New genres for me this year include Manga, Humor, Nonfiction, Short stories, and Memoirs.

I read 35 books total. That’s 7,192 pages!

Design Census 2016 (AIGA + Google)

December 15, 2016 11:25 am

Go do it! I did.

Google and AIGA are pleased to announce the first annual Design Census—an open and collaborative resource for understanding the complex economic, social, and cultural factors shaping the design practice today. It is free and open to everyone, and its goal is to empower the design community to take charge of its professional development and happiness.