Not Your Average Cup Of Tea - Part 1


When I sat down for my workshop at the Future of Web Design, I didn't really know what to expect. I have sat through day long workshops in the past that ended up as exhaustive, redundant slide decks with useless fun facts like "did you know that for every baby born, x amount of iPhones are being sold right now at this very moment?!"  WOAH, so mobile is like...a big deal?? The only thing I'd work on in those situations was staying awake and trying not to knock my cold coffee over with the 5 MacBook cords surrounding me. Like seriously, we're all plugged into a cord strip in the middle of the table and everyone has the extra long cords that are fifty feet long. It's an accident waiting to happen. Nevertheless, when I sat down in Jon Setzens' workshop, I was ready to go...and then momentarily devastated when Jon asked us all to pull out notebooks to do some sketching exercises. 

I am not your typical designer when it comes to sketching. I hate drawing. Well, let me rephrase, I'm not comfortable drawing. I don't like sketching, I wasn't good at sculpting or painting or anything like that in school. I do my "wireframes" on the computer, and I often have a hard time not starting off too visual. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the benefits of black and white mockups and prototyping. You can't just send out a group of construction workers to go build a house based on a gorgeous drawing, you need blueprints. And especially when working with clients in the past, it's infuriating to try and decipher whether the dude in the corner really isn't understanding your user workflow, or if someone just punched him in the face while he was holding a purple cupcake as a child, forever scaring him of anything even the slightest hint of magenta. And even though all designers are supposed to like drawing, I try and justify my hatred by reminding myself that I have other creative outlets. Growing up, I spent hours crafting detailed PowerPoint "stories" that I would present to my parents, or flipping WordArt upside down so I could make wavy rainbow filled text goodness to print and fold into a greeting card. I love to sing, and play the piano. Even though I can't really read music anymore, I have nearly perfect pitch, and choose to memorize songs or learn by listening rather than sticking to sheet music. But give me some graph paper and a pen, and I'll probably just stare at you.

I had a few journals growing up, but I would often tear out the pages and throw them out. I changed my handwriting style multiple times in middle school, and I would regularly redo a page of notes if I didn't think the doodles on the side of the page were appealing enough. Maybe it's the fact that I can't command-z a drawing. Maybe it bothers me that what I draw doesn't look anything like what I'm visualizing in my head. But for whatever reason, I feel more at home on a computer. 

At this point though, Jon had shared some of his background. His work was amazing and I was already geeked out, so I wasn't about to have a poor attitude...even if he was asking me to draw. However, the design gods felt like having a field day and I ended up sitting near every broken pen. I'm not kidding you, the four nearest pens were all broken. I managed to get three "drawings" done during the exercise, try not to start crying while taking in their beauty: 


You'll notice the scribbled attempts to revive the broken pens, but my efforts were futile. Check out that pizza pattern though!! Eh? Eh? Looking back on it now, I'm really glad he made us do these. Even though I unfortunately spent most of the time shaking pens and trying to blot spilled coffee from my bright blue pants (because I had to spill coffee at a conference at some point), I was immediately thrown out of my comfort zone. And that is probably the number one ingredient for making kickass designs. 

Samantha NovakComment