Jenna Steely is a designer/maker in the Bay Area working toward a more progressive future.
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Sketchbook

A sketchbook is a lot of things. A place to take notes, to dump ideas, to iterate, to doodle. It's my place for words and pictures.  

A new portfolio

It's been years since I've had an updated portfolio website. When I'm not actively job seeking it seems like a needless effort. But I'm confronted with it every time I go through hiring for my company, sifting through candidates and thinking about how designers present themselves. They basically boil down to four categories on a matrix that looks like this: 

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Bad designers who present themselves poorly

This is of course the worst bucket to be in. I have very little sympathy for this designer. Go to school, or switch careers is my advice. 

Good designers who present themselves poorly

This is truly unfortunate. If you show me with your work that you have some raw talent, I may miss it if you are not thoughtful about how you are presenting it to the world. If there is no context of the problem you were trying to solve, explanation of the challenges or some insight into your process, your beautiful designs are just shiny objects. I want to understand how you think, not just that you can make things that are nice looking. Included in poor presentation is pdfs and sending me to your dribbble page. This is 2016 and I'm hiring for a digital position— if you don't have a website, you don't understand your audience. 

Bad designers who present themselves well

This is perhaps the worst of the bunch, because they are sneaky! On more than one occasion, I have been impressed by the polished presentation of a candidate, only to realize during the phone screen that their actual design work is far from pixel-perfect. Anyone can open a mockup PSD and update a smart object so that their design is displayed on a Macbook Pro on a perfectly composed desk with cute little succulents next to it. But if what's inside that Macbook Pro screen is poor typography, stray pixels, bad spacing—you've got bigger problems than a cliché. 

Good designers who present themselves well

This is the holy grail, and is a surprisingly rare combo. I look for a designer who can present their work digitally with thoughtful insight into the challenge and process, AND impress me with the actual design work. Easier said than done!

So now that I've spent so much time judging others, I want to prove to myself that I can take my own feedback. I've spent time being alternately horrified and inspired by people who genuinely want a shot at working with me. The least they deserve is a good role model, and there's no better time than when this is fresh in my mind. Especially when people are Googling me to size me up as a potential teammate — and what will they think when they see my animated GIF psychedelic cat splash page that I have instead of a real site? 

 I mean, its not that bad.

I mean, its not that bad.

So I've dusted off some recent projects, re-familiarized myself with Squarespace, and made a first pass at a few case studies. I'll be adding more content over time but as a base, I feel pretty good about it. What do you think? 

 

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