It was August 1, 1981.
I sat on the hotel room floor, surrounded by guitars, keyboards, and gadgets, doodling on a complimentary Holiday Inn notepad. Dad tinkered with a motherboard as his soldering iron glowed, delicately balanced on the edge of an ashtray. The smell of pork chops, rice and beans wafted through the air as mom worked her magic on our portable double burner stove. I sat on the floor, glued to the television. It was that very moment the iconic M came to life and made its beautiful debut.
Oh, how I loved that M.
What is this? Music? And art? And animation? All at once?
I was only 8 years old, but I knew whatever that was . . . whoever is responsible for creating such magnificent things… that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Music was already in my blood. I spent the first 14 years of my life touring around the country with my parents’ band. In the early years, I was their little “tour manager” in charge of rolling up wires and cables and making sure everyone was smiling. Later, I sang with them at beach gigs and outdoor festivals, all the while, taking mental notes for my Future Self.
Years later, I played guitar and did acoustic sets at coffee shops and art houses. I sang in bands ranging from Top 40 covers, to retro 80’s (complete with a spacesuit and moon boots) to Zappa’esque drama rock. Ultimately, I found myself in funk and soul, but the path to this self-discovery was quite diverse.
Art & Design
Anytime it was my birthday or Christmas (even the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were in on it) I always received art supplies: paints, pastels, easels, massive pads of paper, glitter, glue, shapes, and colors. I grew up drawing and doodling to the sounds of my parent’s Top 40 repertoire.
These skills also came in handy doing concert flyers, posters, websites, album covers, t-shirts, etc. The more shows we did, and the more music we produced, the more I designed. The more I designed, the more comfortable I became with it. My style emerged. I found my groove.
Over the years, my career path meandered a bit but always stayed in the realm of visual arts. My first few design gigs were in the sign industry. Then I dabbled in print. Then branding. I found myself in self-discovery mode again, but this time, my compass was set on web design. The perfect blend of shapes, colors, math and logic.
Fast forward a few decades. . .
Now, I’m a full-time UI designer for a successful software development company. I tour the world singing in a soul/funk band with my husband. And I still doodle on complimentary hotel notepads.
When I work, I listen to the sounds emanating from my husband’s studio. Sometimes, I’ll find myself coding rhythmically to his beats. Fingers doing the lindy hop across the keyboard. Or illustrating tight-knit patterns, cross-hatching to the ch-ch-ch of the hi-hat.
Then, there’s designing UIs that will eventually be used to create music. I’ve seen, first hand, how musicians interact with analog pedals and racks of gear, so the domain is already familiar to me. This helps in laying out button groupings, organizing effects, hot spots, etc. to create a streamlined UI for the end user.
I love the intricacy and detail put into audio UI’s: the tiny little buttons, skeuomorphic LEDs, bevels and shadows.
Some of my favorite software design projects have been for the pro audio industry, such as Roland’s VS Digital Audio Workstation SDK and JBL’s LSR4300 Control Center software. I’ve created prototypes for Gibson, media management systems for NBC Universal, designed icons for Creative Labs.
As for my childhood dreams of working with MTV, it didn’t quite pan out as I had expected. I never got to play with the iconic M. I never got to meet Kurt Loder. And I never designed my own animated interstitial.
But hey, I’m still listed as an artist on MTV Italia and that’s the next best thing. ✿