At work right now



I just finished my first semester as an adjunct design professor at a local community college, the info-graphics needed to complete this year’s annual report for one of my favorite non-profit clients—826LA are almost finished, and I am 5lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight (but am still sporting a squishy pooch where my 8lb 4oz baby once nestled against my guts). 40 weeks ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who my husband and I named Sofia. It’s taken me as long to get back to blogging as it took me to gestate her.

The topic of professional passions, motherhood, feminism and the concept of “having it all” is something I have discussed in pre-baby blog posts, and I feel it’s only fair to circle the wagons and give a real-life update.

Right now I feel like I have landed the perfect balance between new mom and design professional. 38 weeks ago I felt like I had struck the perfect balance between ice packs and nipple cream. 30 weeks ago I felt like I had struck the perfect balance between napping and playtime, and 20 weeks ago I felt like I was finally ready to strike a balance between being a new mom and getting back to nurturing my career as a design professional.

Most everyone I know who is expecting their first baby, planning on making a baby or debating whether or not they want to have babies has asked me “How is it?” with wide eyes that beg for honesty.


It’s hard to describe thoughtfully when you are taking slaps to the face by a squirmy fun-sized human that doubles as a mini-furnace pressed tightly against your body. The parent-child life adjustment continues to provide me with lessons that run the gamut between deeply profound, and being completely humbled by my own lack of practical problem solving skills (mom-brain is real). So I do my best version of “summing it up” by saying—it’s totally worth it! It’s a super cliché response but parenthood is full of clichés—clichés that you will love and treasure.

It’s true that you will never understand the unconditional love that comes with having a child—until you become a parent. You would never meet a person on the street, befriend them, fall in love with them give everything you have to them, and protect them with your own life the instant you see their face. It’s also true that they grow too fast, but the profound thing about their growth is understanding that their life has become a fixed measurement of time in your own life. Nothing will ever make you feel your own mortality in this way. Ten months have gone by and it feels like a 45 second movie montage and you wish you could relive it again and again. You’ll never wish for Friday to get here sooner, because you know better than to wish away this precious time. It’s a very bittersweet reality check.

It’s also true that babies will change your sleep habits. The weird thing is though, that when I became pregnant, my circadian rhythm changed instantly. I was exhausted by 10pm and awake by 6am. The days of staying up and playing the internets until 3AM disappeared without me even having to make a conscious change. By the eighth month I was up every two hours to pee in the night. Nature has her clever ways of sleep training you before your little sleep bandit joins the party. The new mom mantra is “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Also, most babies start sleeping longer evening stretches once they hit the 12-13lb mark. This is your motivation to keep up with that 1-2 hour feeding schedule in the first weeks.

Work! The career topic has been the most concerning and highly debated among myself and my freelance and creative professional pals. Before I talk about work, I feel like I need to make a disclaimer: in no way do I believe that my experience is typical, or preferable above all others. My friend/client Katherine summed up being a new parent perfectly: “It’s not that it is hard work…it’s that it is constant.”

Being a parent jolts you into a state of rapid-fire change, your tiny human is growing, and learning new things very quickly. You have to adapt, and you have to improvise. These are things that I love! I love changes, I love adaptation, I love figuring out the system—perfecting it—and then dissecting it and rebuilding it again. So for me, there’s a certain zen to the chaos that I find very comfortable.

The hardest truth for me was realizing that I was not going to be able to return to work the way I had known it for a very long time. Pre-Baby me thought I’d be back in my studio in a couple of weeks with a blissfully sleeping tiny human in a bassinet next to my desk. NOPE. My tiny human loved being held, and loved eating…all the time. She wasn’t much of a crier, but if I tried to put her down she would fake cough at me until I picked her up again. “Ah-hah!” was my new name.

For the first three months of her life, I sat in the rocker in our little den, feeding and rocking little boo, with one arm, and using my free hand to answer email, quote hunt and create pinterest mood boards via my iPhone. Jay did all of the creative heavy lifting during the day, and when Sofia went down for the night I could pop back on my computer for a few hours. This went on for at least the first three months, keeping the income coming in if I had been a solo freelancer would have been impossible without some professional help.

When Sofia was just about four months old I got an offer to teach at a local community college and it totally changed the game. I had the income to hire a part-time nanny, I was able to get out of the house and talk about design non-stop for 6 hours a week, and when the nanny was here I was able to get into my studio and sit down to do some concentrated work during daylight hours. I currently work 20-30 hours a week, and about 15-20 of those hours are daytime hours, the rest of my design time still happens at night after Sofia is asleep. I love this schedule because I still get to spend so much quality time with her.

Now, at ten months old Sofia has become more independent, loves to look at books, dump out baskets of toys and watch Yo! Gabba! Gabba! So I have a small desk set up in the play-den and I am able to get a few hours of work done while she plays. Work can still get a little crazy when the projects are big, but being married to another designer really helps. I have a great partner and feel very supported.
I can honestly say that I feel like I’ve found the perfect balance between work and motherhood, but then I know she’ll be walking soon and I’ll have to figure out what the new balance structure looks like!

My advice? Be flexible.

Mastering Design

July 14th, 2014


A mixologist may have all of the best tinctures, herbs and spirits available on hand, but it’s his/her ability to use them with consideration, creativity and careful measure that makes your crafted cocktail so delicious and potent, and makes them a master of their craft. So, once a designer has completed the academic rigor of building their toolkit (understanding typography, color theory, psychology, hierarchy, semiotics, and grid structure), how do they become a master of their craft?

Am I a master designer? No, but I am working on it. Ask me again in 30 years and I’ll give you the same answer. Why? Because, the most important thing I’ve learned since finishing my design education at Otis College of Art & Design, is to teach, and be willing to learn. Mentor-ship is a two-way street and it is key to understanding design and growing to be a better designer.

I’ve had the fortune of receiving advice and tips from senior level designers, and I’ve experienced the joy being able to teach and mentor junior level designers. In the past I’ve mentored design interns for 826LA, I’ve been invited to lead charettes in Mark Allen‘s design class at Pomona College, I’ve led design workshops for 826National, and most recently I’ve been invited to teach a typography class next week with TypeEd. Studies show that the things we learn become more solidified when we teach them others. Every time I get to teach I feel full-filled, and leave with better understanding of my ever forming design process.

To get better at anything, we must be willing to learn—which means being vulnerable and admitting there are things we don’t know. I’ve met a few designers along the way who let their ego get in the way of learning, and a few mentors who let their egos get in the way of teaching. It’s the biggest waste time and effort I’ve ever seen. Open yourself up, become a sponge, absorb as much as people you respect are willing to share. Attend workshops, go to conferences, read books, talk to other designers about design (and non-design). You’ll see your work get better and better for it.

Life outside of design
Get one. Everything you do in life will make its way into your design work, so make sure you nurture the other parts of yourself as much as you nurture your love for design. One of my favorite pieces of design advice was: “Feed your hobbies,  if you only focus on design you’ll become boring.” It’s true! I’ve gravitated back toward the domestic hobbies I loved before I went to school. I cook, I garden, I sew, I rehab old furniture with my husband, I make things with my hands, and that makes me happy. While some may find my hobbies boring, I find over analyzing Yahoo’s new identity for two hours over cocktails to be thoroughly mind numbing. Life is bigger than design, and creators need to be cultivating self in order to keep creating.

If you are interested in learning, I invite you to join me at TypeEd in Los Angeles on July 19th for my workshop “Setting the Table“. I’ll be pulling from my own experiences to teach students how to navigate the world of freelance publishing design, as well as practical tips for building a publication in InDesign using tables,  single text boxes and following publishing type standards (saving you from embarrassment when your publishing client sees how you built your file and chokes). We’re using a cookbook format, which makes the whole project even tastier!

This class is great for anyone interested designing anything with text, not just print work. This is an advanced type class that will expand your toolkit and make your heart happy when you leave knowing how to build a beautiful page. It’s a great investment! Contact me for a $50 off promo code, making this the best $100 you’ve ever spent!


My Favorite Internet

May 17th, 2014


This is what I do when I am not working. I internet for inspiration and information. Here are some of my favorite items from the last week!

How to use the IKEA RÅSKOG cart in every room at Apartment Therapy.
Seth Rogan is the big brother every teenage girl needs at Rookie
The french DIY it better at Shake My Blog
Logo mock-up kit via Typostrate
100 tips for frugal living Apartment Therapy
Real talk about Mexico/Mexicans Anthony Bourdain
Winning the online dating game Instagranniepants
Marina Abromovic teen idol at Rookie
Minimal Living in Cali at Design Sponge
Kanae Sato Illustrations at The Fox Is Black

Type-Ed has been curating some pretty great design resources lately too, I had to gather them and put them all in one place and share with my design friends:

InDesign Tutorials
5 tips for better Type
Good Typesetting vs. Bad Illustrated and Explained
Dirty Talk for Designers


Best Collab Ever

May 11th, 2014

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

Relationships are a collaborative effort (obvious), but when you are married and you run a design business together, your entire life is a collaborative effort. One of you agrees to rag the type while the other one cooks dinner— and later—one of you will create info graphics, while the other folds laundry. You pull all-nighters together when you need to, and you never let the other off the hook or make sub-par work because you have squishy feelings for them. You deliver criticism and praise with love, and you revel in watching your collaborative body of work improve because of it. You are equally invested in your business and your personal life. You share the good days, and you support each other through the bad ones.

Last year was a tough year, and I needed to wait for some really good days to come along, outweigh those bad ones, and give me enough healing and perspective to give this story a happy ending. And while I love a happy ending, I value honesty above all else. As social media dominates our social life, it’s easy for honesty to become lost. Our lives are filtered through Facebook and Instagram and we tend to only share the good days. It’s as if that “Like” button is there to remind us that we should only post stories that garner “Like” as an appropriate response. When you are suffering, the unrelenting flood of weddings, puppies, parties and babies can make you feel isolated and even ashamed of your bad days.

So here it is. Our story. Completely honest.

While there were a few signs over the years that something not-so-great was happening inside my body, it wasn’t until last year that I really started to feel “off” and had the resources to get checked out (thanks Obamacare). After a full physical my physician told me I was in absolute perfect health. But I felt horrible. I had daily headaches, I was exhausted, I felt cold all the time, and (oddest of all symptoms) I felt stupid. My speech slowed. I couldn’t remember the words I needed to communicate clearly, and I started making really silly mistakes. I decided to investigate my test results, and noticed my TSH level (a pituitary hormone that regulates thyroid function) was 2.93. Historically this number had always been very low for me— never over .63. I had even been warned in the past that should my TSH level drop further, I would need medication to regulate an over active thyroid gland. No one ever told me what would happen if my numbers went up. When I asked my doctor about these test results, she told me I was “in lab range” and therefore healthy. I believed her, and chalked all of my symptoms up to being over-worked and in my 30’s.

Life went on, and in July we found we were pregnant. We were so thrilled. At my first prenatal visit I asked my doctor to check my thyroid level again. This time it came back over 5. When I did some internet research I discovered that the recommended thyroid range was under 2.0 for a woman who is pregnant or trying to conceive. I learned that women with sub-optimal thyroid levels had a nearly 54% chance of miscarriage. I immediately called my doctor concerned for the safety and well-being of this new life, and she again told me I was fine. The headaches got worse, my thinking became worse, and several weeks later we discovered our baby had stopped growing.

I was so angry and heartbroken. We hadn’t really told anybody about the pregnancy, and therefore didn’t feel the need to tell anyone about the loss. Much of what people say to couples who have suffered a miscarriage starts with the phrase “At least…”  which is the least helpful thing one can say. The only words you want to hear are “I’m sorry.”

I knew exactly what had gone wrong and I knew I could not trust my doctor. I educated myself, I learned everything I could about thyroid health and found a specialist who agreed that I was indeed suffering from Hypothyroidism and mild adrenal fatigue. I learned that the labs and ranges my previous doctor was using were outdated.

I began natural thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and started a diet to support thyroid health. I quit drinking coffee, I cut out gluten and I started to feel better. SO MUCH BETTER. My personality came back, I could have conversations and crack jokes, I even worked faster and better. I couldn’t believe how long I had been living in that painful fog. Jay came with me to every doctor’s appointment, he checked in with me daily to make sure I hadn’t forgotten my meds, he prepared meals according to my new eating plan. He was with me every single step of the way. He made up funny songs about thyroids and thyroid medication sung in a “thyroid the robot” voice to make me laugh. Our grief and our healing was a collaborative experience.

Winter came and went, and I continued to get better. My blood work improved and, in January, we saw two pink lines. This time we were thrilled and terrified. We waited quietly for those first 12 weeks to pass uneventfully, fearful of enduring another loss. Once we crossed that threshold into second trimester we shared the news with family and loved ones, and thanked the universe for each healthy ultrasound and blood test. Our little monkey is growing happy and healthy and will be joining the outside world at the end of this summer. We’re so happy to be able to share this news so publicly and honestly.

I want people who feel alone in their bad days to know that all of those great days we see via social media, were hard- earned. While not everyone is comfortable sharing their struggles, they are still there. If you are a friend or family member who is learning this story online, I apologize for not talking about this stuff as it was happening. It was too painful for us, and without a happy ending, we knew it would be painful for you too.

Learn more about your thyroid:

In everyday terms, your thyroid produces the energy-efficient hormones that make every cell in your body function properly. Poor thyroid health is linked to disorders like Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and over 40 other ailments.

What is Hypothyroidism and what are its symptoms?
What does Gluten have to do with Thyroid function?
What is natural thyroid hormone replacement therapy?

See all of the amazing baby related design stuff I’ve been pinning!

If this post helped you or touched you in any way please let us know by leaving a comment below. It’s easier to be this honest when you know it helped someone else.


Friend or Faux?

May 6th, 2014


The topic of plagiarism and stolen work in the creative field is not new, and unfortunately not uncommon. There’s the Urban Outfitters stories, Modern Dog vs. Target and the horrible Oldboy Poster story—in which the designer Juan Luis Garcia refused to give up license of the work after the ad agency made a weak financial offer with promises of “exposure” (que barfing sounds now), and the agency ran with the work without paying him. What makes this story even more horrible is Spike Lee telling the designer that trying to make an appeal to the artist behind the film in an open letter was a “Cheap Trick.” It couldn’t be cheaper than dodging culpability by hiding behind the thieving ad-agency. EW. Spike Lee, don’t like you anymore. I’m glad your movie bombed.

At the core of many of these stories is a cooperating designer, someone with the word “designer” in their job title is employed by Urban Outfitters to search through Etsy and go to the Renegade Craft fair and use their knowledge of design software and production processes to counterfeit another designer’s original idea. This person tells other people that they are a designer, and their paycheck makes them think their work is credible. Hello hack designer, I am here to call your ass out.

When I was in design school plagiarism was grounds for expulsion, I never knew anyone who came close to that during my educational experience. We were proud of our ideas, our work and we had integrity. Our goal was to create something totally new, original and head turning. These are three qualities that the product/output of a business must have in order to be successful, and they come from one place—a designer. If you employ a cheap designer with no integrity, then your product will be cheap and without integrity. Hello purveyor of not-so-fine goods, I am here to call your ass out.

I’d like to introduce you to a new series of articles I’ll be posting here At Work Right Now called “Friend or Faux” in which original design and designers will be celebrated, and the subsequent plagiarizer will be called the eff out.

For my first post I chose a designer whose work is very close to my heart. Lisa Hedge has been on my radar for quite a while. My introduction to her work began with a phenomenal wedding stationery suite that featured this “Save The Date” card:


Lisa Hedge’s work opened my eyes to the true potential of my small sketches and collages (which were previously reserved for exploration only). Her client list reads like my dream client list; Target, Warby Parker, and J.Crew. She’s fantastic!

Imagine my shock, surprise and disgust when I saw this little number on Wedding Paper Divas (a print on  demand wedding stationery site that lets you enter your text into their “unique” templates).

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 8.21.38 PM

As far as I can tell, Lisa Hedge was not commissioned to create this work for Wedding Paper Thievas, and the lack of finesse in the white space around “Save The Date” tells me she did not create this for them. Wedding Paper Divas, you’ve been called out. While I previously thought your service to be interesting and unique, I now see that you are a cheap knock off of the genuine article. You are the polyester to our taffeta, the cubic zirconium to our conflict free diamond. You might think you look convincing, but while we’re sipping on your sparkling white wine we’re all talking about how tacky this whole charade really is.

For more examples of Friend or Faux design, follow my Pinterest board here.
This series was inspired by Stop Stealing Photos


Labor of Love.

April 15th, 2014


My poor blog-baby has been feeling a little neglected over the last couple of months, so I thought it only fair to show it a little love by sharing what I’ve been working on…

After our wedding in 2012 we received several design requests from fiends and family who were also getting married and celebrating other big life events. What started out as favors began turning into a business as friends of our friends, and friends of our family began contacting us with similar requests. As our stationery and event design process developed we found a rhythm and a passion for it. Each event was like a mini branding project, and an exercise in typographic composition. We were having fun creating bespoken pieces of design that celebrated the most important benchmarks in a person’s life.

Many happy memories later, we had amassed a nice little body of work and with the help of our cousin Alex Rapada (an award-winning event and travel photographer) we were able to style and shoot the collection for our new sister site

In celebration of our tax-day Grand Opening, we are offering a 15% discount on all event stationery and design services through the end of the month.



March 3rd, 2014

Chris Do

I’ve fiddled around with After Effects, learned how to use Flash when it was at its peak of relevance, and even took an “Intro to Maya” class back in the day. Motion design is something I’ve always been enamored by, I was so close to enrolling as a “Digital Media” major at OTIS, but when I looked at the curriculum it didn’t feel “me.” When I met the other students in the program it definitely didn’t feel “me.” It was a bit of a Nerd-Douche atmosphere. I found that I thrived in my Typography courses, Interaction Design, Publication Design, Print-Making and Letter Press classes. Most of the motion design folks I’ve met, were not “designer types.” They could care less about type-talk and grid structures. BUT! The designers I’ve met who transitioned into the world of motion graphics do it SO WELL.

Chris Do and Bl:nd are one great example of design brains, meets motion graphics beauty as is evidenced in their byline: “Design + Typography for moving images.” In their world grid structures and info-graphics bloom into 3D cityscapes, and columns of editorial type bouncing across photo-journalistic landscapes. It’s as if someone brought a perfectly designed page to life. I love it. I also love that they are an L.A. based creative firm that chose BlackLetter type in their identity.

So, with all of this, it’s very cool that Chris Do will be speaking at AIGA’s second Installment of their “Hecho en Los Angeles” series on March 13, 2014. Hopefully AIGA will find a worthy Chicano speaker to join this series and really make that series title count!

Hosting a wide variety of L.A.-based designers, the newly launched speaker series highlights Los Angeles as a leading city in the global design community.

With over a decade of design experience, Chris has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work with heavyweight clients such as Microsoft, Nike, the Los Angeles Film Festival and more. The Founder and Executive Creative Director of the two-time Emmy award-winning, digital design studio Blind, Inc., Chris is a self-proclaimed problem solver who will delve into how design agencies strategize, pitch and win sustainable business while maintaining an atmosphere that cultivates creativity.

“Chris is a passionate and active member of the southern California design community, and he brings the perspective of designer, business owner and educator to Hecho en Los Angeles,” said Jason Adam, AIGA Los Angeles President. “We’re excited to offer a speaker that shares the multifaceted experience that many Los Angeles designers can relate to.”

Tickets for the March 13th Hecho en Los Angeles event are currently available at early bird prices starting at $15.00 for AIGA members and $25.00 for non-members on the AIGA Los Angeles website at The event takes place in the PDC’s Blue Conference Room at 8687 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90069 from 6:00-9:00PM



February 17th, 2014

Design AND/OR Family Blog Article from At Work Right Now, the Parallel-Play blog.

Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2010
After six months, a design fellowship for myself and three other talented female designers was about to come to an end. We sat at the large crit table, discussing our experience and talked about what we would be doing next. When it was my turn, I stated—candidly— that I was moving back to LA to get married, start a business with my husband, and then hopefully start a family. The faces around that table were unmistakable. Shock, horror, embarrassment, and utter amusement (on the face of my favorite mentor). After the group dispersed he grabbed me and said “Honey, you might as well have told those women you were moving to the Tenderloin to slam heroin until you die. That shit was hilarious!”

He was right. It was kind of hilarious, and I wasn’t surprised. I’d encountered that attitude before, when I baked cupcakes and brought them into work at my music industry job. It was very not-punk rock to be baking. But I enjoyed it. As much as I enjoyed getting high and doing housework, making a mix-tapes, print-making, and dancing alone in my bedroom. Somehow my professional agenda, and my domestic agenda were two things that could not exist on the same plane in the minds of other people (mostly women).

I am a feminist, with really strong domestic tendencies. In feminism’s purest form, one should not be in conflict with the other. In feminism’s purest form we should never be criticizing a woman for doing what makes her happy, or believe ourselves to be of superior evolution for not having domestic interests. The misconception of the career woman and the lady the of the house existing on opposing ends of the feminist spectrum baffles me to no end. When I was in design school I produced a zine called Le Super Cake that celebrated what I like to call the “closeted domestic” feminist. It celebrated women like Amy Sedaris, a comedienne with more faces than Cindy Sherman, and a published cook book. Her “Fuck you, eat my cupcakes” attitude summed it all up for me.

I don’t feel that career and family rest on divergent paths with one leading toward true feminism and the other leading toward compromised feminist beliefs. I don’t believe that there is an inverse relationship between the success of one and the failure of the other. I never felt the need to choose one or the other, and I never felt my career would suffer in motherhood, or that my children would suffer in my professional success. I want both, and have chosen a path that will allow me to do both, every choice I have made has been a step toward reaching two goals. Being a designer and being a mom.

I find it discouraging to see so many female voices in media, that buy in to this a dogmatic view of women’s choices. I understand the need to protect ourselves from the 80’s myth of “having it all” It’s not possible for any person to have everything all of the time. To say that feminism allows women to have it all, is setting up feminism to fail. Is the answer to admitting we can’t have it all mean we have to narrow our choices down to an all or nothing? Articles about work and family directed toward men are about striking balance between the two, not choosing on or the other. So how is it, that we women came to this conclusion? Who made us think we had to choose career or family, when the we can have both, one, or neither? Who made us feel that once we’d chosen, you’d have to justify your choice to anyone?

When it comes to procreation, I wholeheartedly support every woman’s choice to participate or opt out. As a thirty-something- year-old woman, I’ve earned my merit badge in dodging the baby questions while I focused on my design education, building a design career and creating a life that afforded me the kind of opportunity and balance I want. I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity to point out the inappropriateness of other people’s desire to know what I am doing with my uterus. When Christina Yang refused to compromise her choice to be childless for Owen, I wanted to thank the writers of Grey’s Anatomy for supporting her.

How come when I share my desires to start a family with others, I don’t feel that I need to validate my decision by furthering the myth that “childless people are selfish.” Yet, I have never met a fellow professional (male or female) who claimed that they were opting out of domesticity without attempting to validate their choice by pointing out that “their career will be more successful.”

Ultimately these justifications/judgements on either side separate us women from each other (as if we need more help in that department). My peers who do not want children assume we have less in common, that I would not understand the passion they have for their career, or travel or any other interest of theirs that is stronger than the desire to parent. This was made abundantly clear later that day at my fellowship with Chronicle Books in casual conversation, I mentioned that I had not slept well the night before and my colleague looked at me and said “How do you think you’ll be sleeping when you have a crying baby to deal with?” and walked off. It was if I had offended her, and had failed her idea of feminism in some way.

Moments like those make me feel thankful to have had some really great mentors.  Other female designers and creatives, who ooze cool, and proudly proclaim themselves feminists as they breast feed and kern type from the comfort of their studio. They make me feel confident, that we can have both, we can make it work, and we can still be feminists and artists while we raise families, and pass on our ideals to the next generation of liberal whack-jobs and tiny feminists.






January 14th, 2014


At breakfast my Nana tells me this story, I am thirteen maybe fourteen years old:
Oh my god mija! Last night I woke up in the middle of the night because the teevee in the livingcroom was esso loud. I couldn’t even sleep, no matter how hard I try. So I get up and I go to turn off the teevee because I though maybe chu Uncle Frankie fall asleep with the teevee. But no. You know what I saw when I went in the livingcroom? Chu never gonna believe it! I thought I was dreaming. Well, I look at the teevee and there are all these purty gurls dancing! Eshaking their butts! And I look at the other side of the livingcroom and there I see chu Papa! I seen chu Papa dancing, like he was dancing with all the purty gurls. Oh my god, I was laughing, esso hard!”

I feel most connected to my Papa at the Santa Anita racetrack. He loved that place. I never went with him, but when I was little he would tell me to pick out names of horses from the program for him, and then Nana and I would go shopping while he went out. When I saw him again, he would slip me a clean five dollar bill that smelled just like Polo cologne from his shirt pocket and tell me not to show my dad. My grandparents were my world when I was a kid. I wanted to be with them all of the time. Sometimes when I am at the track I look for signs that my Papa is still around, looking after us.

New Year’s day 2014, was the first Dollar Day of the season at Santa Anita. I love Dollar Day (when they serve hot dogs and beer for only $1 each), and it was happening on New Year’s day (a day that I love because of its opportunity for fresh starts). It couldn’t have been more perfectly timed—because frankly—2013 was emotionally and physically one of the hardest years of my life. I was excited about starting this new year with a day at the track. As we pulled up to the track I thought of my Papa, and wondered if I would get a sign that he’s still looking out for us from the great fairway in the sky, and then came race number seven, horse number twelve. The horse was a loser. Just like Papa would have picked. I swear I could almost hear him yelling GODDAMMIT from the heavens…

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Collage, placed in apothecary jar.  Copyright 2009 Shannon Doronio

I started this blog last year with an epiphany—an idea that sparked a blog concept I felt I could stick to— and I set out to document the ways that everyday life shapes the work of an artist and/or designer through my own experiences. Today I consider the experiment to be somewhat successful. I produced 43 posts total. I was only nine posts shy of meeting my one post per week goal. But I am giving myself a free pass on not meeting it completely.

In 2013 I wrote about things that excited me. I documented trips to salvage yards and thrift poking, I shared favorite quotes, talked about social/political events that resonated with me, and documented professional development activities that I attended, I shared links to things I was looking at and featured some new work. It was fun to take a moment out of the hustle and sit back and reflect on these things through writing and image. It made me see myself more clearly as a professional and an artist. It’s hard to figure out what direction to take your career when there is no obvious ladder to climb.

In my reflection I also noticed that the artist side of me, the part that deals with life experience and emotion vs. content and collateral has been sitting in the back seat for quite a while. As I was becoming aware of it and trying to figure out how to awaken that creative part of my self again, the emotional/personal part of my life came crashing down. I experienced a lot of personal loss and heartache and pain in the fall of 2013. I pushed myself straight into work during the day and deep into thought at night (all night). My blog project halted. Though there were good things happening, nothing excited me enough to outweigh the emotional weight I was carrying around and I found it extremely hard to be social (in person and in media) in an authentic way. I took the winter off. I took time to process. I am so thankful to have such a loving and beautiful man as my husband (he pushed through the mucky muck with me), and for having such a loving family and a few close friends who helped us shovel through.

In my downtime I started to remember how the artist in me used words and image making to process life, to write the history I need to tell myself in order to be at peace. This practice is something I mastered in school and have barely continued in the years after. I love my work—the thing I do for money—but it’s not everything. It’s not my life’s work.

In 2014, my epiphany has expanded. I expect that things here will begin to go deeper vs. wider as all of the scabs are picked and band-aids ripped off.

Shannon Losorelli-Doronio
Media: Multi-media collage placed in apothecary jar



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