This is long overdue, but I finally answered some of your questions! I asked on my Instagram earlier this month for anything you’ve been wondering, and a lot of these are questions I get asked a lot - so I hope you find these helpful in some way (hopefully, this can be a recurring thing!)
Where did you go to school and what did you major in?
I went to University of California, Davis, and majored in Communication! Even though Davis has a design major, I never actually took any classes. I found a few ways to remedy my lack of academic training - hanging out with design people I wanted to be more like, studying a lot in my own time, and prying all the knowledge from my friends who were taking those design classes :-)
How did you learn to design using illustrator and other software?
There's a few specific ways that worked for me and that I'd highly recommend:
First and foremost, just diving in is one of the best ways to learn! Doing a daily challenge kickstarted my journey; by creating something every day, you get to learn what you don't know about the programs and where you can go from there. Just the process of doing a work flow over and over again evokes so much insight into what you need to learn - and then you can go to the next step.
Second, troubleshooting - looking up specific tutorials, ways to do things, and scouring the internet. Now that you know what you don't know, it's easy to just look up the solutions and learn different tools and effects that way.
Finally, leaning on others - mentors, colleagues, or just other design friends. If you're serious about learning the tools, it helps to know others who you can go to for specific questions, especially for those things you can't seem to find online.
How did you develop your style?
I would break this down into a few different components: intentional tastes, personal tastes, and studying/practicing.
Intentional tastes I characterize as those affected qualities that I consciously try to take on and incorporate into my style. For example, a lot of my personal work centers around women of color and diversity - because that's something important to me, and I don't feel like that's represented enough. So as that translates into my style, it's something I've chosen to focus on and make a characteristic of my work. Thinking about what's important to you personally helps a lot with this process, and I think it's that soul-searching component that really helps to develop one's style.
Personal tastes I characterize as more intrinsic preferences. We all have our own preferences when it comes to color, shape, and visual styles. For myself, there are styles I've always enjoyed even as a kid - things that I naturally gravitate toward. That informs one's style as well.
Lastly, engaging in study/practice helps to refine your style. Looking at other artists and their techniques, understanding art and design history, keeping up with trends, and practicing what interests you about all of those - I would say that's a pretty solid formula!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I really enjoy the process of learning, and I'd say that's where a lot of my inspiration comes from. Taking on new topics and indulging in that erudite side of me has fueled a lot of my creative work, both personal and professional. Because I love that process so much, it's natural that I want to share it with others (hence, a lot of my design work).
More concretely, I also like to draw inspiration from all genres of art like film, music, fine arts, etc. I have artists and designers I enjoy following, but I mostly try to keep an eclectic range of inspiration sources as to keep things fresh with my own process and growth.
How do you stay focused working from home?
At this point, I've been working from home for about a year now. It's only in recent months where I've finally gotten to the point where I feel positive, productive, and actually efficient in my workspace. I think that's worth noting because there's definitely an adjustment period, which takes time -- but I can share a few pivotal steps I've taken that have really helped me acclimate.
A turning point was the realization that because I work from home, I'm also my own employer! - which means I'm now responsible for furnishing all the amenities that my employer otherwise would, so that I can have a productive and efficient workspace. That means things like ergonomic furniture and quality of life things, like plants and decor. A running list of some of my workspace essentials:
Adjustable standing desk
Ergonomic office chair
Desktop computer - I used to work entirely off a laptop, which really limited my capacity. Having a computer station has removed a major barrier for productivity and I can now dive in seamlessly.
Plants - I have 4-5 in my range of view!
Art prints - I enjoy posting up my work that I especially enjoy, as a reminder of how far I've come. In the past, I've also put up thoughtful notes from friends/colleagues to inspire and motivate me.
Other things that make me happy - my new keyboard, mouse, and other knick knacks :-)
A lot of these are investment pieces, but I've come to realize that working from home is a priority for me, so I'm willing to spend on the things that will make that easier. Plus, it feels empowering and motivating to be able to work with equipment that you've invested in, as opposed to making due with cheap stuff.
Aside from equipment, there's a few other tips I've picked up for myself that can be useful to share. A structured schedule is the backbone of my productivity; I use my planner to organize everything in my life, from birthdays to daily to-do's, and I always have it with me. When planning for a day's work and reflecting on what I've done so far, focusing on qualitative results (how far I've progressed on a task, how much more I have left to do) has been way more beneficial than quantitative results (how many hours I've worked in a day). I prefer to prepare meals in advance (meal prep) so I can focus on relaxing during work breaks instead of cooking and getting my time derailed. Spending other breaks outside, in my garden or going for a walk, is extremely helpful to separate life from work. And lastly, working from home can make one feel isolated, so I've found a happy balance by scheduling it in to attend a couple social things each week. That includes meeting up with friends, attending an event, or otherwise making an effort to be social and connected with those around me.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a question! If you’d like to participate in the next Q&A, send me an email with your question or dm me on Instagram and I’ll log it for the next one :-)