Stuff That’s Around

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These photos are from a series I started on my Instagram I’m calling Stuff That’s Around. At first it was about integrating a bunch of disparate things, united by color as a common ground. But what I didn’t expect was that it’s having the effect of bridging disparate parts of myself too. How trying to find parallels in items and art that don’t naturally co-exist means doing the same in life. I mean, pawing around the forgotten narrows of one’s space is bound to unearth some rather dusty skeletons if you know what I mean (oh and I think you do).

Like how the aqua dipped knot by artist Tanya Aguiñiga has dutifully kept watch in my apartment home office + studio (or the Offio as I like to call it) for some years now. Or how the circles I paint are a physical meditation, a mesmerizing soothing experience that brings me a specific sort of quiet I relish. The blue bowl in the collection of rejected items below is similarly powerful. Beautiful and rather pointy-edged, I made it in the weeks preceding my dad’s death earlier this year. It’s was a collaboration, actually, with a team of potters who were among my dad’s closest friends. Kind, creative, generous people who have been close and important to my whole family since I was a kid. The bowl was due for the recycling bin, having gone wonky and misshapen on the wheel. Even the process of collecting the items brings memories like these to the surface regardless of whether or not they make the final composition.


Partially a way to help me process and channel the grief over losing my dad, sure, but I also didn’t want that to be the whole influence. So there’s plenty of play packed in there too. The silliness of a deflated floppy balloon, paint piped on paper with cake decorating tips, the meandering curves of string adding texture and motion, quite literally tying it together. Origami inspired folds and zingy little doodles. It’s been so gratifying making it all go.

And the color combos are endless, I can’t wait to see what else rises to the surface or who’s work I stumble upon or how this evolves. Or what ripple effect this creates for my design work. The creative process can often be so fraught with murkiness or anxiety that to be able to find a system for myself through that is freeing and gives me a confidence in my work that I didn’t have before. I feel so much gratitude for that, and that I have colors, textures, objects, and other artists’ work along for the ride.

I’ll be posting these once a week or so on my feed here if you’d like to follow along.


On Business + Ethics, part 1


Pretty much every business resource I’ve come across pretty much always mentions the famed Seth Godin at some point or another. For good reason, he knows what’s up and delivers the message clearly, simply, and without guise. I saw his post Enough Ethics? on twitter last week, and clicked on it because the title confused me. I interpreted it as suggesting that there are TOO many ethics in business. Wait what?! Turns out, it was the opposite, phew. It’s really about the importance of being ethical rather than acting exclusively in service of what makes most financial sense. That’s definitely something I can get behind. Seth doesn’t really get into how, though, or even that “ethics” are a term rife with interpretation. Everyone’s personal code is going to vary so it’s a real slippery topic. Further complicating is how few businesses disclose their ethical practices, or display different ones behind closed doors and non-disclosure agreements. That is something I do not want to be associated with, so I’m writing this in the interest of fostering more transparency. This’ll be a series. Consider this part one. 😀

  1. 1 / Compensation
  2. Work will be accepted in exchange only for the most competitive wages possible, in equal trade of goods or services, or for class credit. No unpaid labor, internships or apprenticeships, and no nickel-and-diming people to drive down their rates, both of which contribute to the wage gap. Pay people what they ask for, by the due date requested. Some salary negotiation is acceptable at large businesses or places employing more than 10 or 15 people, but aggressive negotiation, or doing so with small businesses is a useless power play. No one needs that.

2 / Kaizen
Japanese concept that strives to make constant small improvements in the workplace and the self. As a work process, it is lean and geared for timely delivery without undue steps or stress on workers. In other words no busy work, overcomplicating, or 5-alarm deadlines.

3 / Privilege
Being aware of cultural appropriation. Work inspired by other cultures is possible if done in one’s own unique manner, in a respectful, educated way, with credit due to the original style or concept (see illustration above). Educating myself every day about how to be a better human. Working with a mix of non-profits and cultural organizations to actively engage with the world’s causes even in a behind-the-scenes way. Not crediting imagery or ripping off other’s work. Making sure there is a fair representation of people in the work product too, because representation matters. Treating my clients and staff with the same level of esteem, because our roles may be reversed some day. Being accessible to feedback so no one is afraid to give me the real talk. And then quick with a meaningful apology if I’m in the wrong and rapidly correcting course. There’s endless ways to check one’s privilege, so being on the look out constantly for new ways to do what I can to make sure people are being heard, seen, and respected in any context.


4 / Wabi Sabi
Because we’re human, having some flexibility and considering all accidental developments. It’s the pursuit of honest work while celebrating anti-perfectionism. Sometimes these chance occurrences can really breathe life into a piece, or alter the direction entirely. It can be hard to accept at times, so it requires open expectations. It also creates a culture where no one is shamed for their mistakes.


I’ve got a handful more of these ideals, many of which come from Japanese culture, but I’m dying to hear what you have to say on this subject too. Comment on your ethical requirements below, or send @pitchdesign on twitter. Better experiences await us all with more discussion on these things, so don’t hesitate to share. You can also email me directly if you prefer to share in a less public environment.

{Image credits: my own. Photo of Seth from here.}

Week of 8/1/16

Bits and bobs for you this week.

+ Even though Massachusetts has just made it illegal to ask about your previous salary, I still think employers will try to find creative ways to bring up the topic. Here are some excellent answers when someone asks for your salary requirements.

Margot Harrington - Pitch Design Union

+ This is the first ever paid editorial illustration I’ve had published! It was so fun and I hope to do more. Thank you, Intercom! Check the post and see it large and in charge. Intercom is hiring in Chicago if anyone is looking for a new jorb.

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+ Low Commitment Projects are my kind of projects. They make me laugh every time. I’ve posted about them before but this year sees them sharing new projects every week. Like this series of mispackaged foods, too clever.


+ I love this #stylechallenge on Instagram where illustrators are remaking themselves in popular cartoon styles, but showing way more types of people. Shows how deeply representation matters and how little there is in pop culture. Started by 17-year-old artist Autumn Massaquoi because she “loves that with cartoons there are no limits to what you can create.” Wise words indeed. Click the images above to view each artist, and see more artists here and here.

Word-Free Pomodoro Playlist


Playlist time again! This is for you folk who can’t listen to anything with words when you work. This list is part contemporary classical, part electro, with a little bit of French flair. But not too chill because otherwise, it’s sleepy times. Okay, there is one song with words, but hopefully less you speak French it’s pas de problème. 

/ What’s Pomodoro? Get the backstory here /

Black Creatives Giving Me Life

Because Chicago is generally crazy segregated (still) (it’s complicated), it’s a priority for me to seek out and support the work of marginalized groups and people of  color to help offset the ingrained politics of our city. And because there is so much pain and heartbreak in the world right now (France again too, omg, I’m so sorry for you) let’s get some beauty and joy in our brains and eyeballs right now.

Janice Bond
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Janice is an artist, curator, and lecturer. These are some images from her Beyond the Binary series which celebrates the all the gray areas of gender, sexuality, race, and body type. You can see her latest newsletter & subscribe here. Janice invited me to her quarterly meet up of lady artists, designers, and women-run businesses last week at Soho House. This event fell on the same day as the murder of Philando Castile, and while the difficult events of the week went unspoken, this experience was clearly a balm for all of us. Thank you Janice, for providing community and solidarity on this tough day.

Tkumah Sadeek

Singer Tkumah is booking shows in Chicago and everywhere. Her voice is sweet and smooth, it’s impossible to be blue when listening to her. Don’t sleep on this one!

Kenesha Sneed

Designer, Illustrator, and Ceramics! Multi-talents in this one, there’s no end to what Kenesha can do. Check this blurb on her in the New York Times.


James & Cher got to be on Chicago’s independent radio station, Vocalo, this week talking about this project and it made me real happy. Postloudness is a podcast collective showcasing queer, female, and voices of color. Covering tech, pop culture, personal finance, and self-care, there’s something for everyone here.

Deun Ivory Photography

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New transplant to Chicago from Houston, Deun is looking for portrait, fashion, and wedding gigs. Hire her! Her instagram is so good I have no words.

Lauren Ash

It’s because of Lauren that I met Deun, but Lauren’s work is equally important. Yoga, meditation, wellness, and lifestyle goals right here. Listen to her podcast, Black Girl in Om, or book her for a workshop or private consulting sesh to get your mind and body on track.

Tomorrow Looks Bright

Showcasing black female creatives the world over, get some super talents in your inbox on the weekly. Like this recent edition all about black lady DJs. Edited by black graphic designer Kristy Tillman, you’re missing out if you don’t sign up!

Clearly, this is only a handful. There amount of amazing people to know and share is endless. If you know or follow anyone key, put ’em in the comments and I’ll update the post or do another one! Do it for this moment in our history right now, if nothing else.

Take care out there everyone. I’m sending you along with my best vibes today. <3