My first career was in Wildlife Biology. “Who cares!” you yell (stop yelling!) Well, here’s why you should care—a background in both the arts and science has given me a unique approach to design—it has honed my analytical thinking, and encouraged practical real-world solutions to design problems. Also I can tell you about mitosis. Kidding, I don’t remember anything about mitosis anymore.
Before going solo over five years ago, I had worked in both large and small agencies—a gamut of experience that has allowed me to wear many hats, and work with global brands, across a variety of mediums in both the analogue and digital realm.
Now I work out of my home office in Vancouver to deliver print and digital projects for clients large and small, from coast to coast.
Relevant personally, but not professionally:
What I do:
- websites—with the breadth of content management systems and themes available, very few websites these days are hand-coded (phew)—this is most of the web design that I do—skinning, branding and populating WordPress themes.
- branding—logos, brand environment, brand guidelines, collateral, etc.
- print materials—you name it, I’ve probably done it
- infographics—you’re nobody until an infographic loves you
- app design—no, I’m not an app programmer, but I will design the hell out of an app
- package design—admittedly an area where my experience is somewhat thinner, but of immense interest to me
What I don’t do:
- marketing—I have no interest in it, and I have no experience in it. I can design your marketing materials, but I don’t do marketing itself.
- advertising—See above re: marketing.
- digital strategy—By this I don’t mean web design and usability, but overall strategy regarding online presence. If you’re looking someone to put together an overall digital strategy for you, I highly recommend Rachel Segal—wise beyond her years and a pleasure to collaborate with.
- SEO—Beyond installing an SEO plugin on your already SEO-friendly WordPress installation, I don’t dabble in search engine optimization, nor do I want to. Have your marketing professional to do that for you.
- programming—The only programming I do is light HTML/CSS customization on the WordPress sites that I skin. I don’t hand-code sites from scratch anymore (there is very little need to do this anymore with the breadth of customizable templates out there). I also don’t write mobile apps (but I know someone who does, so if you need a designer-programmer duo for a mobile/web app, contact me).
- heavy illustration—I say heavy because of course I get into doing light illustration for infographics and other design—things like icons, logos, diagrams, etc. What I mean is I probably don’t want to illustrate the children’s book you’re penning. I love illustrating, and I’m not even half bad at it, but it’s just not what I do and I’m not quick at it. You’re much better off hiring a professional illustrator.
- banner ads—If you’re hiring me to do your overall brand and materials associated, I’ll design your banner ads, but if you’re contacting me just to do banner ads—no thank you.
- copywriting—While reasonably competent at stringing sentences together, I am not a writer. You’d be much better served by hiring a writing professional to produce copy for your project if it’s not something you can tackle in-house. (I highly recommend Hayden Jackson if you need copywriting—she’s funny, smart, and an absolute delight to work with.)
So what’s the deal with “Justafrog”?
When I was going to design school, one of our assignments in drawing class was to draw whatever we wanted—the only requirement was for it to be in colour. So, being a fan of animals and biology (see: that time Leigh got a Biology degree), I rendered a tree frog in coloured pencils. My instructor was underwhelmed. While he agreed the technical skills were impressive, he was disappointed that I didn’t do something crazy with it, like wrapping it King Kong style around the side of a building. He said: It’s just a frog. It will only ever be just a frog. As an animal lover with a Biology background, I didn’t really see this as a problem. I mean, have you ever SEEN a frog? They’re cool as hell!
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the fundamental difference between design and art. I would never be a successful artist because I always needed to have a problem to solve. There is always an objective in design, while art can be successful simply for the sake of itself. I also realized that I really liked parameters—I was actually far more successful when I had them. Simply telling me to draw whatever I wanted in colour wasn’t enough to pull the good stuff out of me. Design has an audience, an objective, constraints, considerations. This is why I’m a far better designer than I am an artist. Justafrog is a little nod to that, and a reminder that while I took a twisty road to get here (see: Leigh rides motorcycles), I ended up in the right place.