day 50

Hello from gorgeous San Francisco!

There’s not a day goes by where I don’t say, out loud, “I love this city!” several times a day.

A big part of my job hunt has been getting out of the house. Over coffee with one of the head UX ladies at ModCloth, she confided: “don’t spend all your time inside with a computer on job boards and resumes. You need to get out and explore this city NOW, because once you have a job, you won’t have time for anything else.” And that’s actually been my strategy.

How did I end up having coffee with a top ModCloth engineer? I went to a Women Who Code javascript study group. One of the organizers invited us to a “Lightning Talks” event she was participating in, and two of the other speakers were ModCloth employees. I connected with them while the event was breaking up, and they told me which of their co-workers to get in touch with. As soon as I got home, I contacted her, and she responded almost immediately. I had an informal informational interview set up before I went to bed that night.

Earlier this week, I attended a FashionTechSF event, where founders of nearly two dozen startups were demoing their products. I left with three or four solid leads to follow up with regarding what I can do for them. Since only a ridiculously tiny fraction of jobs are ever advertised—something like 5%—I’m trying to find young startups that need a strong generalist designer like me, and let them know how much they need a strong generalist designer like me.

In addition to job-hunting full time, I’m using my unemployment to MAKE ALL THE THINGS. So, I have several creative and personal side projects going.

First, I’m redesigning positdesign.com from the ground up: I’ve customized so many wordpress builds and templates that I’m next building my very own wordpress template from scratch for this site. It’s been on my to-do list for years and years: since before I switched to the current template. I’ve been stashing links to “make your own theme from scratch” articles on delicious since May 2009. I’m at the point now where I can’t afford NOT to do it, and I’m really excited about the progress I’m making. Some very neat things will be happening in this space in the next week or two.

I’m also creating my own comics: finally! I spent about a year batting around a dystopian cyberpunk concept, but I kept going sideways with it. That is to say: at first I thought it was a graphic novel, then a traditional novel, then a cycle of animated shorts, then a web interactive or transmedia project, and finally an interactive comic that lives in its own app. And in most of those cases, I need collaborators. It was simply too ambitious.

Last week, I was struck by my new comic. It is something that, without being aware of it, I have been working on for at least nine years. It’s fictionalized history rather than historical fiction, and an accumulation of so many things I love and have taken graduate-level coursework in. These are characters I love to draw, and simply love. They are based on real people, so I’ve loved them for years and years. The idea is small, perfect, and eminently makable. I have three strips storyboarded, one with pencils complete and ready to ink. Between now and actually launching the strip, I’m practicing by creating little one-off comics, and posting them to a new part of my portfolio dedicated to them.

The other thing about San Francisco is that this city is my tribe. I’ve been thinking a LOT about the concept of tribes in the past five months. One of the newest members of my tribe is a bartender at my favorite neighborhood restaurant. Like Cristo, he’s a fine artist and comics creator who works in the service industry in service to Making All The Things.The three of us: Cristo, me, and bartender buddy have been discussing the creation of a supergroup of sorts for a few weeks now. A couple nights ago we were all shooting ideas back and forth, and one phrase was so perfect that I flew to my favorite domain registrar via my iPhone (http://namecheap.com—never, ever go daddy; it’s a scam to jerk around web n00bs!), and the name was—shockingly—available. So now I am the proud owner of cartoonmafia.com!

The next night, which was last night, I doodled a quick pen sketch of a logo. Today I drafted it up in Illustrator with a couple variants. Then, in a fit of Making All The Things, I coded a pixel-perfect CSS version of that logo, and tossed up a placeholder page: http://cartoonmafia.com: A San Francisco Comics Artist Collective.

Next Monday I’ll be attending my first gamebridge night at Noisebridge, a hackerspace in the Mission. I will come out of that, theoretically, with a functional original video game of my own creation.

Next Tuesday, I have another informal informational interview with a startup founder (my second).

And next Thursday—because I am, apparently, a student-for-life—is the first meeting of an eight-week Information Design class I’ve registered for at San Francisco State University. Of course, this being SF, there are a million other things happening at the EXACT SAME TIME as this first class, including Madefire’s monthly open studio Story Night (Madefire! sigh), a UX lecture at General Assembly, a Crafting Narratives talk also at General Assembly, and the first meeting of the Hamilton College Alumni Venture Network—what’s a lady to choose?

 

Not bad at all approaching month two of this adventure.

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