When I started out in college as a designer, what feels like many years ago, I started by working with World Vision. I had started, with just a couple of other students and an advisor, designing and building an application on an unlocked Nokia phone. Back when I first took the project on, it was a chore. It was a daunting senior project, and though I was SO excited to work with such an amazing organization, the task in front of me was more daunting than seemingly rewarding. I saw the task and not the purpose, at first. The project ended up changing my life. It changed the way I look at work, and the way I look at how designers and developers by trade are approaching their jobs, their clients, and their associates.
We built this app to track data, on orphans, and children with AIDs/HIV in third world countries. It was (at first) nothing more than a prototype. We tested this thing at 2 in the morning, and pulled our hair out, laughed hysterically in our moments of delirium, and slaved over this app. It was a labor of love and hatred. The project that you can’t peel yourself away from, you dream about (literally, your REM sleep is filled with phones and programming code). We built it on a third party framework. It was as robust as it sounds (which at first was, not at all.) But time passed and this little application soon had a database, and was a functioning prototype, on a real phone. It had a backbone, and people wanted to see it. People wanted to share, and learn. “How did you make it? How does it work? Where does the data go?” In theory, it would allow those tracking data in the field to send urgent data back to headquarters, so that they could respond immediately. Food, water, medicine, things that should be a right to everyone on the planet, would be readily available from emergency responders based on the inputs of data. But it was just a prototype.
Weeks passed, and World Vision wanted to see it. They Skyped into the lecture we gave on it. They wanted to talk to us, they wanted to know the app as well as we did. And as the weeks went by, the prototype became a reality.
The magnitude of philanthropic labor had still not reached my heart fully. Only partially.
But as cool as it was, and as much attention as it was getting, it still hadn’t clicked for me. And then, just like that, World Vision wanted to field test the app, in Zambia. So a few members of our team went to Zambia. With the phone in hand, and the database at home. I sat by the database those 5 long days. Watching, waiting, wondering what they were doing and if they were eating any bugs.
And one day, data started coming in.
Numbers, letters, words, symbols. And I recognized it, it was real data. All the prototyping we had done, all the moments of “what am I doing?” came to life. It was like I saw this project actually get up and walk. And I had never been more moved. In an instant, I had changed. Maybe it was me the whole time, and it was just waiting for “me” to come out. I was always philanthropic and loved to give back. I had always felt that we were meant for something bigger, but in that moment, it was like everything I believed stared me in the face and said “you were meant for this, and you need to know that”.
It was the project that made me realize how much I loved designing and creating. It connected me to something that would stay with me forever.
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I’ve been making a lot of fonts lately, and I love it. Some of them come out horrible (hey, I’m not a letterer by trade) but every once in a while I get a sweet little font. The one above is called Zuzu, download it for free. xo joy
beautiful image via
things that make me smile:
being done with school in 5 days from today
turning the clock forward to see daylight at night
open toed shoes and cold pink toes
johnny jump ups at the dawn of spring
have a beautiful weekend xo
Every year around this time I start wearing clothes that aren’t seasonally appropriate. More often than not, they’re short sleeves, skirts, flats, things that you wouldn’t recommend a north-eastern gal to wear in the middle of February. After the groundhog makes his appearance, I think, SPRING IS HERE, NOW. Except it’s not, at all, but I try to convince myself it is. The reason I loathe the January thru mid-march days so much is their lack of sunshine and holidays. No holidays! And then, like a phoenix, rising, Valentine’s day shows up without warning, and I remember that I get to wear pink, purple and red for an entire week where no one will judge that I look like a marshmallow peep (or they judge more silently than usual). I tell myself that chocolate is good for my body and soul (which it is). And I forget to get something for my husband for his gift, even if I have the best intentions every year (always… WHY?). What does one get a husband for a Valentine gift? And no, DIY cardboard hearts don’t count. Maybe I’ll just make a smashing dinner and some double chocolate cookies and call it a day, since men are so much easier to please than we give them credit for. Although this bow tie is pretty snazzy.
I come across such funny quotes sometimes in my design inspiration searches. Here’s Roy Lichtenstein on his work and the things he likes, it made me smile.
Are you on Vine App? You might have seen some of the craziness on Twitter about Vine and to be honest, I am taken with it! It’s one of my favorite social networks right now. There’s no editing, or special film skills required. Just tap that finger, and you’ve got a funky video. Go ahead and connect with me on Vine App! Follow me at @joylaforme. I think brands are going to love this one, and it’s only a few days old, so jump on fast! (below is a mini vine video I uploaded just this afternoon).
Good morning! I am excited to present a new blog this morning, the blog of Kimberly FitzSimons. Kimberly and I met through the lovely Jess Lively and I was so excited to work with her, because I knew right off the bat she’d have a beautiful aesthetic, based on her letterpress shop. Her line is “Classically Chic by Design” and it suits her perfectly. So head on over to check it out!
BIG NEWS! Ok, not yet. Sorry to disappoint. But I’m making some changes around here so it may be a little bumpy. I will do my best to not make it bumpy as best I can. But hey, I’m knocking over one of my New Years Resolutions! Except, this was just a resolution, I decided, last year. So it’s been a long time coming. And I’m totally rambling, so I’ll leave you with that. Stay tuned for the bumpiness, but keep reading here as usual. If you’re looking for my portfolio, you can find it at http://www.joylaforme.net starting tomorrow morning.
I am itchy with excitement. It’s hard to sit at my desk and do the work. I’m beginning my last quarter as a student on Monday, and I’m so excited. I’m excited because I am *that girl* who yes, loves school. But I’m excited that after 20 something years of school I’m finally going to be done. For the first time in my life that I can remember, I won’t be studying for a test, or working on a paper, programming a project, and waiting on bated breath for final grades. I’ll be free to just, be, at the end of the day.
But part of me is sad. To say goodbye to something that has held me up like a rock over the past 4 years.
I originally started going to school, because I couldn’t find a job. I was fresh out of my undergraduate and wide-eyed, ready for a great career since I thought, “hey, I deserve it! I worked hard, I had a major that doesn’t usually have difficulty finding jobs, and plus, I’m young and awesome“. Typical. Looking back, when I see people with this attitude now, I roll my eyes and think, “you just wait”. Oh so cynical and jaded. I should work on that, probably.
I applied to graduate school when it finally hit me. A job is not a guaranteed thing in life. It’s a hard reality, but it’s true for so many people, including me at the time. So I swallowed my pride and decided I would go back to school. Make myself, an even better version of myself. So I took the GREs, dusted off my old version of Microsoft Word to write entrance essays, and I applied and was accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design. At a time when rejection was happening left and right with jobs, it felt so good to be accepted.
I was also accepted to a couple of other schools. Luckily, I had no issues with entrance to SCAD. I was accepted to another great school, with the caveat that I take English as a second language. How’s that for a confession? English is my first language, and I was so paralyzingly nervous during my GRE, I flunked at a level that someone who does not speak English would flunk at. How embarrassing. Talk about being knocked from your high horse, huh? It’s ok, go ahead and crack up! Because I did. I also cried a little bit. And then laughed again.
Soon after I accepted my new future as a student at SCAD, I got a job. Something inside me said, “Do both“. “Ugh, really?”, I thought. But I knew it was the right choice. Move forward. Keep pushing. Keep making yourself better.
3 years later, I was laid off. Company cutbacks. The cliché answer was all I had when people asked me. It was embarrassing. It was sad. But I still had school. School was becoming a constant.
Freelance became a four letter word. I did it because I had to, not because I wanted to. I knew I needed to grow my portfolio as I went through school. I went on countless, countless interviews, where people consistently asked me, “so, you’re in school? how will that work with a full-time job?” and I patiently responded that I do my work in the evening, just as I had over the past 3 years. They would give me that look. That look. The one where you just know, I’m not going to get this job. I’m going to go home, take two Tylenol, lay on the floor and pray that this all goes away, that everything magically goes back to the way it was before everything exploded.
But I still had school, the constant. It made me feel like, with all of the things that made me feel so small, I was still so capable. Strong. Hard-working. Learning.
I still worked and worked, and it gave me a reason to move forward, to continue making myself a better version of myself.
And I truly believe that the very thing that held me up has made me a stronger person. It’s reminded me what I’m strong enough to accomplish in my life. And slowly as time as trudged forward, I realize that whatever job I’m doing, whether it’s conventional or non-conventional, challenging, or maybe a little boring, I’m ready to take that, smile at it, and use my talents to accomplish it.
I encourage you, maybe you’re a student. Maybe you’re thinking about going back. Maybe you’re thinking “I never got that degree I always wanted”. Maybe you want your GED, your Associate’s, your Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral, degree. Maybe you’re just finishing high school. Give it a try. Give it a chance, and maybe let it be the thing that turns you into a better version of yourself.