For the next installment in my interview series, here’s another kick ass freelancer, Krissy Gogel of 6bDesign in Baltimore. You can check out her blog and work at 6bdesign.com or follow her on Twitter @6bdesign.
Give us your “elevator pitch”, who are you and what do you do?
I’m a freelance web designer, all around tech geek, and advocate for animal welfare from Baltimore, Maryland. In my spare time I enjoy playing video games, watching football, spending time with my husband and our adopted and foster pets.
When do you first remember getting interested in making websites?
I started making websites in ’96 at the age of 15. I had designed a lot of ANSI/ASCII logos, menus, and newsletter templates for different BBSes, programs, e-mags and art groups, so making the jump to web design once the 8-bit scene seemed like the natural thing to do. I bought a book on HTML, downloaded Coffee Cup HTML editor and taught myself how to make websites. Since I knew some C from modding BBS software HTML seemed easy and I picked it up almost immediately. I will admit that my first few sites did look like typical mid-90s Geocities/Xoom/Angelfire sites with tons of “cool” bullets, bars, animated spinning gifs, and image reflecting Java Applets. I eventually got better and my websites began getting some attention, so started freelancing from the basement apartment at my Grandmoms house where I lived.
Freelancing was very fun at the time, but it wasn’t very lucrative. Once I turned 18 I made the decision to get “a real job” and move out of the basement. I got my own apartment and a part-time seasonal job as a sale associate at a local Baltimore independent music store called Record and Tape Traders. That two month seasonal gig turned into career that lasted for eight years. I held many positions at Record and Tape Traders, but the majority of my time was spent as a store manager in charge of training. When the independent chain of 11 stores was sold to an out-of-state corporation in 2007, I chose not to reapply for my job and decided to try freelancing again. I learned many sales, marketing/promotion, communication, time management, merchandising, and general business skills in that eight-year period which gave me an entirely new perspective on web design and user experience.
Do you have examples of any of yr old ANSI and ASCII art?
If you don’t count the Atari XE with the 5.5 in. floppy drive I had in the 80’s, I got my first computer, a Macintosh Performa in 94. One of my cousins noticed that it had a 28.8k modem and introduced me to the world of “modeming” and gave me the numbers to a bunch of local Baltimore area BBSes. As an art student, I was very impressed by the amazing 8-bit, 16 color graphic ANSI and ASCII on some of these bulletin boards. I downloaded as many art packs as I could find, created some 8-bit art myself, and ended up joining Unit – a local art group run by Beverly Guillermo. Eventually I traded my Performa for a 486 with DOS and Win 3.1 so I didn’t have to run Telix (telnet program) and Acid Draw (ANSI/ASCII Editor) through a DOS emulator. As the local underground art and BBS scene began to fade, I decided to take the plunge and get internet access so I could start hanging out on IRC in #ASCII and #ANSI where the “famous” 8-bit artists hung out. I eventually joined other groups: Remorse (a division of Acid), Mimic, and CiA while running my own group, Aspire.
I absolutely loved creating ANSI and ASCII art.
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired or burnt out? Do you have any rituals to help you cope? Resources to get you inspired?
If I’m feeling burnt out I usually take a break and try to regroup. Just closing the laptop and heading downstairs to the kitchen for a cup of coffee can clear my mind enough for ideas to flow again. When I have the time, I’ll whip out my handy Moleskin and doodle for a while. That seems to help clear my mind. I get some of my best ideas when I’m not thinking about the project I’m working on.
When I’m feeling uninspired I rarely ever look to the web for new ideas. I prefer to look at items around my house and office instead. Books, magazines, catalogs, CDs, DVDs, video games, and the product packaging of everyday items offer me lots of creative inspiration.
I don’t really have any rituals to help me cope. Since I work from home, trying to maintain certain daily, weekly and monthly routines seems to help me stay on track. I’ve also had to make certain self-imposed rules about when I work. It’s very easy for me to catch an attitude when my work starts to interfere with my home life and takes away time that would normally be spent with my husband, friends, family and kids. And by kids I mean cats and dogs :)
What’s your favorite project to date?
Recently I have been freelancing for Blue Sky Factory designing and updating email newsletter templates, landing pages and banner ads. It has been very refreshing having “co-workers” even if my only contact with them is over the phone, through email, Basecamp or IM. But as much as I have loved my time freelancing for Blue Sky Factory, I would have to say that my favorite project to date has been Blendetta.com. Blendetta is a pop-culture blog that I designed and run with my BFF Amirah Rahim. We worked together at Record and Tape Traders years ago and we both have web jobs now. Writing for Blendetta has kept me in touch with music and pop-culture trends and gives me the freedom to write about stuff I like – not stuff I should write about.
In your time freelancing what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned? What advice would you give to those considering freelancing?
I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons since I’ve been freelancing. I’ve learned that only about a quarter of my time is spent actually designing while the other three quarters are spent handling administrative duties. I’ve learned that although working from home is convenient, it’s not as cost-effective as one might think once you take into account the cost of supplies, utilities, hardware, software, etc. I’ve learned that freelancing to pay the bills is not a part-time job. I’ve learned that you need to watch the trends, experiment, push yourself to the limits, but must always stay true to yourself, what you like, and what you do best. But most importantly, I’ve learned that web design and development is not something that you learn and do – it’s a continuing learning process. You can never know too much, especially since the web is constantly evolving. So my advice to those considering freelancing: Always Be Learning. Find out everything you can about design, color, typography, freelancing, taxes, time management, invoicing, etc. Being a one-person company is a lot of hard work since you are doing the job of 10 people. The more you know, the easier it is.
What do you think of the latest design changes to Facebook?
Personally, I like the changes. People get outraged when sites like Facebook make changes. Just the other day, people made a big stink because Twitter added tiny in-house advertisements on profile pages, although it didn’t affect their experience. Change is inevitable, and in my opinion a good thing. When things don’t change, they don’t move forward. If the web in general didn’t change, we’d still be looking at those Geocities pages with the animated spinning gifs : )
What’s the most inspirational book in your library? (Doesn’t have to be design related)
Without question my favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To think that it was Lee’s only published book is quite inspirational. Knowing that reminds me that anything is possible as long as you put your heart and soul into what you love doing. I also find much inspiration in the opening credits to the movie. The contrast of the modern typeface and the classic images is amazing; especially considering the film was released in 1962.
Favorite HEX? #4E27C. I’m a huge Baltimore Ravens fan.
Do you say “font” or “typeface”? Font.
When setting live San Serif text, which do you choose more often; Helvetica, Arial or Verdana? I shouldn’t admit it, but I will – Verdana. I hope all of you Helvetica lovers still like me! : )
Favorite Keyboard shortcut? Alt-Tab. I always have 2,623 applications open.
Favorite internet celebrity &/or internet celebrity crush? Christian the Lion. Ever seen that video on YouTube? It’s absolutely amazing!