Living by Design

I've been at this awhile . . .

. . . this thing called life. I write it, design it, photograph it, think deeply about it, share it, shape it, teach it, and try to live it with authenticity and integrity.

I walk through the woods and across the ridge at sunrise and sunset. Every day is a poem: The Red-Bellied Woodpecker lives like now is always. Raindrops across the pond ripple outward in concentric circles of influence. The Red-Shouldered Hawk kees her intention. The Armadillo ain't afraid for nuthin'.

"I'm not scared of dying, but I've built such a beautiful life and I'm not ready to leave it."
Dr. Sherwin Nuland

A Career?

Change is Good.

I had it pretty easy as a young person starting out. I lucked into an interest in technology and built a career on it before there was even an idea that the desktop computer might become the designer’s central tool.  My first computer was a 64k CPM machine that prompted “Abandon modified buffers?” to save a file and froze at about 12 pages of text.

There was also a big push in those days to hire more women on campuses where the faculty was unquestionably male. I was a two-fer—a woman with tech skills. The upside was that it was easy (maybe too easy) for me to find a new job, and I usually got a healthy pay increase every time the fancy to try something new struck. So I moved a lot, a lifestyle choice that my colleagues in the art and English departments—grateful to be the one in 300 or more applicants who was actually hired on tenure track—never really understood. 

Woody Allen once wrote "those who can't do, teach," but he obviously never had a teaching gig. If you want to learn to do something really well, teach it. At midlife I put my ability to "do" to the test, gave up tenure, and reinvented myself as a creative director and communication manager. Turns out my many years as a college professor, especially chairing entrenched committees, was dang good project management experience and dealing with the dramas students brought into the design studio honed my skill for managing creative talent.

I'm a strategic planner who nails the details, a designer who loves content, an editor who is passionate about the user experience, and a "seasoned" professional who approaches problems with a fresh eye. I also get things done—on time, on budget.

Project Management
John Doe

My Present

I expect web pages to give me what I want when I want it, and I expect web applications to work elegantly and transparently, not just "run." Design is what makes things work.

I like words. I love documents. Excellent typography can make me swoon. But whether it's a text-heavy document, a flashy marketing piece, web content, or a complex online application, I'm all about the user experience.

Good UX takes a village—or at least a team with some serious talent. Successfully managing talent, in my opinion, requires a tolerance for occassional drama and a propensity to repeatedly fall in love with elegant solutions.

Associate Professor
Jane Helf

My Past

I was faculty for almost three decades, tenured twice. I taught in art departments mostly, usually as the only designer and often the only technologist. I loved working with students inside and outside the classroom and am honored to have shared that experience with so many exceptional people.

I think higher education made a wrong turn, however, and I'm not holding my breath while they figure it out because I have other things to do that require breathing.

About that Wrong Turn: "If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average."

Courses and Student Work


Bitstrip se

My Ever-Changing Future

I like to create adventures for myself by doing things I haven't done before.

Every year my tax accountant has to fill out a new schedule of some sort to accommodate whatever caught my imagination that particular year. Last year it was writing and publishing eBooks—okay, an eBook. The year before it was growing lettuce in the dead of winter on the side of a mountain.

Writing the eBook was easier and has the potential to feed more people. Even so, that hasn't stopped me from growing things—even when there's snow on the ground.

Find Yourself, Find Your Work

Re-examine all that you have been told
. . . dismiss that which insults your soul.

—Walt Whitman




There's no way to live except embodied. But awareness of the interconnectedness of physical experience to the whole of this things we call "life" can be illusive. Whenever embodied experience creates confusion, I suggest drinking more water.


Thinking we can think our way out of whatever problem we've thought our way into isn't going to get us very far. On the other hand, the mind is a powerful tool: I've noticed that things change when I change my point of view.


Call it what you will—consciousness, energy, the life force, qi, prana, fire in the belly—spirit is at the creative core of any good work I've ever done. When I'm not sure what spirit is up to, I make a point to pay very close attention to my dreams.