Photographer (1988 - 2002)
Although my journey was not completely laid out, the Mickey Mouse camera served as a catalyst, pushing me forward. During that period, I took on the design of my high school yearbook, peddled my prints at nearby art exhibitions, and spent a summer under the tutelage of Hallmark photographers.
Combat Photographer (2002 - 2006)
The pinnacle of my photography journey was landing my first substantial position as a Combat Photographer (25v). My military service, which involved creating and documenting battle scenarios for soldiers preparing for deployment, surprisingly marked the onset of my career in UX. My time in the military is among the memories I cherish the most.
Web Designer + Developer (2006 - 2009)
While serving in the military, I began to explore the world of digital technology by developing websites for local businesses in my free time. This newfound interest was a natural progression from my background in photography and design. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, I decided to leverage my skills and experiences by opening a photography and web design studio in my hometown. This venture allowed me to combine my passion for the arts with my newly acquired digital skills, setting the foundation for a fulfilling career.
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design (2009 - 2011)
The financial support from my GI Bill enabled me to pursue and complete my Bachelor of Arts degree, a milestone that was incredibly important to me. During my time at university, I developed a deeper understanding of the importance of aligning design with the final objective of any deliverable. This period of academic growth helped me refine my approach, ultimately leading me to specialize in creating seamless connections between physical and digital objects. Reflecting on my journey, I can see how each experience, from my earliest days of photography to my academic pursuits, has contributed to my unique perspective and approach to the world of design.
Product Designer (2011 - 2015)
Venturing into web design proved to be an excellent segue into Product Design, especially given my added advantage of knowing how to code the presentation layer. It took a while, but I eventually grasped the true essence of user experience. It isn't just about achieving pixel-perfect design or creating mobile-friendly solutions. As designers, we certainly aim for these outcomes. The key to meaningful design lies in research, research, and more UX research.
Product Design Leader (2016 - Present)
I have since gained a more profound insight into the design process. It is crucial to establish the design strategy initially, as without a clear strategy, we risk wasting time on designs and research that may not align with our goals. I have also come to realize the purpose of a Product Design Lead: to cultivate a successful team. It is essential to create an environment of psychological safety where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas without fear of judgment.