The last weekend of September began a series of events that were huge for me, personally and professionally. And no, I am talking talking about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. 

Moving

I got out of the most productive meeting I have ever had in my life at 4pm on Friday, September 25. The meeting was to close on my new house. The weeks leading up to that day were a veritable blur of packing, switching services around, more packing and finishing up client projects…plus packing.

My girlfriend and I just bought a place in Carlisle, PA. The very thought of buying a home always seemed like such a far off possibility. I literally knew nothing about how the process worked. Luckily, I met the right people who understood my naivety and helped me through this journey. The culmination of that journey was on that Friday afternoon. After signing my name over 70 times through a stack of papers that would make conservationists cry, I was handed the keys to my new home and the new home of Azrael Group. I left my meeting and drove towards the new home, trying to mute my excitement and temper it with tackling the new journey which began with painting the house.

In one weekend my girlfriend and I enlisted the help of good friends (and easily bribable friends with the allure of pizza and beer) to paint, pack up, move, unpack and put together our new house. The weekend was a marathon in patience, endurance, problem solving and possibly a little too much beer.

Moving from 600 sq. feet to 1872 sq. feet is a nice upgrade. With all of that room…what could possibly be done to help make it more like a home?

Enter the Dog

Closed on Friday. Painted Friday night. Moved Saturday. Sunday? Time to get a puppy. For weeks, my girlfriend and I have talked about getting a dog. I have always grown up with dogs and I would only be able to get my canine fix when I visited my parent’s house to see their lovable Guinness (Irish family, what did you expect?) A few weeks back, we visited a rescue shelter in hopes of finding a puppy we saw on Pet Finder. Upon entering the rescue, I was a little confused.

Is this a rescue or death metal concert?

Puppies were in a free roaming petting area running around in circles like a circle of death at a Lamb of God concert. All that was missing was the blast beats. We didn’t so much as pick out a puppy as the puppy picked us out. A small, 9 week old jet black Coonhound/Labrador mix whimpered her way over to where my girlfriend and I were standing and she plopped down my shoes and fell asleep on my feet. I picked her up and she gave me a few licks and fell asleep in my arms.

“Oh you’re in love” my girlfriend said. More accurately, we both were with her.

After doing the initial paperwork and giving a deposit, the rescue stated that she would be available to pick up after being spayed. They would call us to let us know when she would be ready. After we left to go grocery shopping, we were mulling over names. I’ll never forget the moment on how chose the name. We were walking down the soda aisle and my girlfriend asked aloud “What about Xena?” I stopped cold, turned around with a big smile and said “Yep! That’s her name!” with both of us laughing at just how appropriate of a name it is for her.

Two weeks later I am driving to the new house after signing all of the paperwork making me the legal owner and I get a call from the rescue saying we can pick up her Sunday.

Friday, paint. Saturday, moving. Sunday, puppy.

Tim, glutton for punishment.

We brought her home, all of us in the new home and great wave of contentment and excitement washed over me. I have successfully moved us into our new home, moved the business, and added a new member to the family

Work & Events

Personally, life is busy. Professionally, things were ramping up. I have launched the new Harrisburg University website a month prior and just with any project in academia…there were a lot of late comers needing to provide “input”. Often I think of the quote “the best laid plans of mice and men” when moments like this happen, but such is life. In all honestly, I am incredibly happy about the project and it continues to grow with further integrations and features. Since the launch in early August, I have also built the following sites

Data Analytics Summit

Summer Game Academy

I have also begun building the new style guide and pattern library for the university. One of the main responsibilities I have is make sure everything just works with the digital assets…at least that is my responsibilities from where the 14th floor is concerned. Chiefly, I have performing design research to better understand the various audiences in which I must cater too. It’s been an exciting process so far, but when you are a one man team, it can get incredibly lonely and dangerous to work in a vacuum.

This is where AIGA has come into play for me a great deal. My relationship with certain members has developed in the most pleasant way where I can have unbiased, honest feedback and advice on various projects that I am working on. With AIGA as of late, things have been ramping up there as well.

The new additions to the board are biting at the bit to get into serious event planning. The weekend after moving, we had our first Women’s Leadership Initiative event called re:Charge. Hosted at CoWork155 and moderated by the always lovely and inspiring JJ Sheffer, the chapter led its first panel discussion centered on women empowerment and leadership within the design and technology fields. The speakers included Jennifer Aldrich of InVision App & User Experience Rocks, Danelle Bailey, UX Designer at Blackboard K12, Madeline Pellman, Art Director at andCulture, Mary Pedersen, Creative Director at JPL, Elyse Ewing, Director of Software Development at KnowWho.

Personally, this lineup of speakers in one event was like a dream come true. Many of the women I looked up as I have grown in my career and many I count my blessings to call them colleagues in the industry. For the chapter, this was the first time we had ever done an event like this. The event was huge success and it makes me happy to know that this chapter continues to blaze new paths in design, technology, and culture.

Another great event that happened was the Interdisciplinary Interaction Design Conference at Millersville University. For the third year, my good friend James Pannafino planned this conference with his students and brought in amazing multi-disciplinary designers to speak on a variety of topics. This year, the chapter helped sponsor this event and brought in a speaker. Months ago, I had attended the Pro/Design Conference at NASDAQ and literally left speechless. I was in awe of everything I had taken in at the conference. One of the speakers there was a Sofia Millares, creative director at NASDAQ. Her talk on building products and workflow left an impression upon me that was incredible powerful. Because of that conference, I changed much of my approach to work. When I was asked by James to be a part of the event, I instantly thought that Sofia would an excellent addition to the speaker panel. The conference at Millersville was great. The speakers included Joni Trythall of NowSecure, Kasey Hults of The Infantree, Sam Provenza of Aweber, AIGA Central PA’s own and Millersville alum Erin Good of Godfrey Advertising, and Sofia Millares of NASDAQ. The mix of talks were interesting; some were more technology walk-throughs while others were collected advice for students and how their companies approach multi-disciplinary design.

Another event that AIGA Central PA was a part of was the inaugural UPNEXT Fest in Harrisburg. UPNEXT Fest was a week long convergence of talks and events centered around startups, design, healthcare, government and technology. The chapter organized a day of talks geared to entrepreneurs and startups on the importance of design thinking and being a design led organization. Our daylight talks were hosted at the State Museum of Pennsylvania and included topics as Branding your Startup, Interaction Design for Startups, and Crafting the Perfect Pitch Deck. The event was capped off with our keynote speaker Chris Cashdollar with a presentation entitled Practical Design Thinking for the Modern Startup. The event was well attended by both designers and entrepreneurs and extolled many invaluable bits of advice on building customer-centric design teams and understanding that design is part of everyone’s role. After his talk, the evening convened with an after hours party at ZeroDay Brewery, where attendees mingled and enjoyed craft beers and great atmosphere.

The Future

With In Haus Kreativ II drawing near I am excited to see this event happen for a second time. Once again, its focus is on in-house designers and directors who live and work in Central Pennsylvania, which is often not recognized as a place where great design happens. This year also harkens the return of Prime Beer Company who has once again developed two custom brews specifically for this event. This time, I helped make these two brews with founder Scott and Matty. Apparently I am good luck charm as the outcomes before fermentation were spot on. I can’t attest to that much…I threw in the yeast and drank a lot of beer prior…so if that is a good luck charm, I am OK with that. This year we’ll be hosting the event at Harrisburg University inside its glorious auditorium.

In Haus Kreativ was my first big event as president of this chapter and it’s pretty cool to see it happen at the end of term as well. In November, the chapter will have a new president; current vice president Bri Piccari will take the reins as the first woman to lead the chapter in the role of president. This excites me to no end. In a way, it’s a full circle fruition for her and I both being advocates for the Women’s Leadership Initiative and both being deeply passionate about the design community in Central PA. I look at the future of the design community in this area and it fills me with hope.

As for myself, I am going to catch up on a lot of back dated blog posts and posting my product line up on Redbubble and I am working on a finishing my first OGL license game supplement that will be compatible with the Pathfinder RPG. Luckily, know that my home office is completed and painted, I will be toiling away feverishly listening to good tunes.

Where does that leave you as reader? Well, for one..you’ll definitely be able to contact to chat about working together on a project or having a friendly conversation about design (or we can have an unfriendly conversation about RoboCop, your call) and you can always hit me up on Twitter.