She’s Geeky: My First Unconference & Having Feels about Solidarity Between Women in Tech

This Friday I attended the first day of She’s Geeky here in Seattle. It was my first experience of the Unconference Format and I had no idea what to expect, but ended up having a GREAT TIME.

Discussions that I joined in on throughout the day included subjects such as Impostor Syndrome, Diversity Groups, Side- Projects, Aging in the Tech World and Being an Introvert.

She’s Geeky is geared toward women who work within the technology industry and those who work with technology within other fields. It was a roomful of people who all have related work experiences and all identify within the “woman” area of the gender spectrum but beyond that, we were both as diverse and as similar as humans tend to be.

As someone who exists within a number of minority groups, my feeling of “otherness” is always present. However, the level of respect and support that was present on Friday made this space feel incredibly safe and opened me up to become more aware of how my “otherness” effects how I view those around me and how I am sometimes not as “alone” as I may feel.

It brought up for me again, a feeling I expressed on a recent Pagebreak Podcast, that this is a very exciting time to be a woman in technology… that the level of solidarity that I have seen recently is greater than ever before and that a CHANGE is happening that makes me feel energized and inspired!


Hand Drawn Typography at Refresh Seattle

Refresh Seattle – February 2014

First off, what is Refresh? According to their website…

Refresh Seattle is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in the Seattle/Puget Sound area. Promoting design, technology, usability, and standards, Refresh Seattle is a part of Refresh and the associated Refreshing Cities.

Seattle’s branch of Refresh had been defunct since around 2008. It was resurrected last fall and this past Wednesday was the 4th official meet up for the group. Each month we are joined by a guest speaker, and this time local illustrator and designer Chris Ballasiotes came to talk with us about hand-drawn typography. He walked us through his process of developing work for clients and even brought a goody bag of art supplies for us to try out some hand lettering techniques on our own!


I was excited about this subject! Since starting my web comic, I have been figuring out my process. How do I juggle hand drawing and also utilize the computer in an effective way? I was hoping to grab some tis from Chris, or at least some inspiration.

The most interesting portion of the presentation for me was seeing Chris’ sheet of quick concept sketches. It’s something anyone who has done logo design work is very familiar with. You quickly draw out everything that comes to mind. Many ideas are crap, but if you allow yourself to put things down unedited, you open the doors for potential gold that you might not have uncovered if working in a less open format.

Seeing these early sketches from designers reminds you that design is a process for everyone. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that when you only see the final product of amazing work that people are creating. Chances are before they made that perfect final design that you saw, they sketched out a page of 10 or 20 mediocre (or even awful) ideas, 5 or 6 good ideas and 1 or 2 genius ideas.


Chris works to capture his final artwork as much as possible on paper. He said that for him and his work, he finds it best to perfect things in the original artwork rather than cleaning things up after digitization. His final drawings get scanned in (or photographed) and (if being used for print) Live Traced in Illustrator. Part of his style was to preserve the textured lines that come from hand drawing on paper, but for those of us who want a crisp line – there is still no other option than to manually redraw the work as vector art.

Later Chris passed out some paper and opened his goody bag of art supplies to the 20 or so designers and developers in the room so that we could try out hand lettering ourselves.  He said “Do your name… or your cat’s name.” Well… I don’t need to be told twice!

Here is what I ended up putting together. For a 2 minute pencil sketch and then moving straight into ink with a brush pen, I’m pretty pleased with this. I like the instant gratification of working with real world tools, but for me, drawing with my screen and tablet is still preferred. I still consider my technique hand lettering,  weather I am moving ink or pixels with my hand doesn’t matter, it’s still my hand!