One Door Closes, A Yacht Pulls Up

Grab some coffee, this is a long one.

As some of you may know, I’ve been in UX for a little over two years but had been a team of one except for the three-month contracted gig that just ended. I paused the search for the Christmas/New Years break then applied for UX positions with two international retail brand companies and went on interviews for both. I was contacted by two different recruiters and worked with them through the process.

Company A interviewed me for a straight across the board UX Designer role on an established team, with processes in place and systems to follow. The interview went well and my recruiter thought I’d have an offer that day or early the next day.

Company B interviewed me for what I thought was the same role but after speaking to the Sr., he passed me to his boss, the VP of Digital, and head data analyst. Suddenly, they were speaking to me about a position that didn’t closely resemble what I thought I was there to discuss and when I asked for clarification, they said there were two positions and wondered if I was interested in the other (more of a strategist/architect role, less hands on design). I left confused since it was so far from what I thought I was there for, and called my recruiter immediately to get more information. He was also confused.

It turned out that they felt so strongly about my personality, portfolio offerings, and demeanor, that they began to push hard that I be considered for the strategist/architect role instead, a role they hadn’t made public or informed the recruiters about. No one had ever mentioned such a career track to me previously, I didn’t think it was worth considering given my lack of head down, team-based UX design time, and thought surely company B was delusional and, frankly, wrong. My portfolio is full of wireframes and user flows, which I’ve now come to find out are far less common than finished work featuring mostly UI (particularly user flows, which have always been a strong suit of mine).

Company A’s offer didn’t come same-day and I reached out to the Company B recruiter to ask if I could go back to Company B and further discuss the opportunity, since I truly couldn’t understand why they’d be so interested in me for a created position I didn’t feel at all qualified for. I met with the VP again, got a tour, met some of the team I’d be working with, and we got a chance to have a transparent, honest conversation about my misgivings as well as the other interview I’d had. He was beyond encouraging, said that in speaking with me felt that I was the exact person and personality match they were looking for, and felt they wouldn’t find another person that ticked all the boxes they had in mind for the job. I left that meeting with an unofficial offer, and the official offer came later that day.

My concern is warranted, I’m not blind. I am particularly worried that I’m skipping over potentially years of hands-on experience before walking into a company or two and helping them with theirs. Company B insists I will not be alone, I’ll have all of their support plus a Project Owner counterpart, and since it’s a created position, we can build it as we go.

I accepted the role and let Company A’s recruiter know that if things had been equal, I’d have accepted theirs. There, it would meant real time put in doing the work, solid experience, the safety of tested methods, and after a year or two I’d have likely moved onto another company. I worry that an elevated position such as this, a specialty-within-a-specialty will make it harder to find something comparable when I leave it.

But the hesitation was coming from somewhere beyond the professional voice; it was personal. Not so much impostor syndrome doubts, but more the kind I felt when D pursued me hard and I wondered, “Why me? What does he see in me that is such a big deal?” Followed with a little bit of, “Why do they want someone without all of the experience who would probably do better and not screw things up?” All of the self confidence that I have, I have mustered or worked to see and feel, it does not come naturally to me. When things like this happen, I narrow my eyes and look for the anvil. I’m working through that though, I won’t let it get me.

Ultimately, in spite of my misgivings, I took Company B’s extreme confidence in me into account and chose to take the risk of an unknown quantity (in terms of established processes) rather than go the safe route. An opportunity like this would have taken many more years and a dozen connections in my old city, I felt I couldn’t let it pass. So I have 10 more days of quiet couch, baking, dog, husband, and errand time, then a trip to New Orleans, then I dive into the unknown.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Cake.

It’s my last day doing UX at the bank. My heart actually aches to leave, which is perhaps the strangest sensation I’ve ever experienced at a place of business. Usually it aches to see coworkers still bubbling around restaurants I visit after quitting, or when social media tells me they’re all out together wherever we used to spend time after shifts. In this case though, it’s the sadness of knowing I might never have this same team dynamic, caring director, or encouraging environment again. Me. Missing coworkers in an office. That has never happened, in all my years of working in offices.

I had a phone interview recently that went very well and in spite of a few red flags that popped up as I learned more about the company’s needs, they want me to come in for an on-site interview next week. It is located well east of town, at least a 35 minute drive but likely more in rush hours (which is off-putting, I’ll admit, I’m spoiled with a 15 minute commute now). I have four more resumes out there and no rejections from them yet, so next week may prove to be a busy one for fielding what may come. In spite of red flags, I don’t feel like I can pass up any opportunities. I need all the experience in many fields and ways of working as I can get, after all it’s my lack of experience that’s preventing me from staying at the bank (as far as I know).

If you’re new to UX and are a team of one, my advice to you is to get out and get on a team ASAP. Knowing how to work on a structured team is more important than skills, in a lot of ways.

It’s really an amazing thing, growing up and getting healthy in the head. My work environments have been largely unhealthy. They’ve been either very passive aggressive, non-communicative, had no boundaries and procedure, or had poor leadership. What I’m leaving is the opposite of all of that, and that’s hard to walk away from. I keep thinking about that whole “better to have loved and lost” thing but I’m not so sure. I realize this place is a rarity on all fronts and I just don’t think I’ll find it out there in the world so easily.

That translates also to some of my friendships, now that I have a chance to look at them from a distance. A friend, acquaintance really, was in town last night for a musical gig. I was a maybe for attendance but as I felt the pangs of friendly obligation to support, I also realized that this friend never speaks to me except for the one weekend a year that we see one another. Matching effort for effort, I decided to stay home. I have no idea if that makes me a jerk, but it feels like the right thing to do, in light of how some of my relationships have changed since our move out of state. It’s good to put the best efforts into things that will feed us and that ideal lead me to part ways with the recruiters who found me my first few jobs here in town. Their behavior at times was unprofessional at best and made them liars at worst. The frustration wasn’t worth it and with that in mind, I head back out into the world of job searching with new recruiters and a new list of what to look for, ask, and seek to find.

Wish me luck and happy new year to you.

Adapt or Die (or, just go out of business)

Since moving to Ohio seven months ago, I finally switched my physicians over and have been scheduling checkups where needed. I made an optometrist appointment after living with some noticeable lag while trying to focus near to far, and had a bit of difficulty driving at night. I knew what it likely meant. I was informed by my new eye doctor that I need “progressive lenses” (aka: bifocals). I spent about three days mourning for my youth while staring at the estimate for the new spectacles given to me before I left the office.

The estimate was $664. That’s frames and lenses with a generous 20% discount for being uninsured, though these days the nicer way physicians word that is, “self-pay”. The frames came to about $245 and the rest is the charge progressive lenses. I sat in shock for some moments for a few reasons, declined the offer to get started on them right away, thanked the office workers for their time, then set out to price compare.

I went home and told D how much they were asking, at which point he immediately set out to find the same frames for cheaper while encouraging me to shop online for everything, lenses included. Now, while I understand the economy of that decision, I don’t mess around when it comes to healthcare and would always rather see a doctor for anything major (particularly regarding eyesight and glasses fit, since I stare at a computer 40 hours a week plus many hours at home after that). I knew I’d want to sit in front of someone at some point to make it all happen, though preferably a cheaper someone.

In the meantime, my new doctor updated and strengthened my existing prescription and switched me to disposable contact lenses (sorry, Earth), and they seemed to make all the difference in my near-to-far focus adjustment and night driving clarity. During my two week follow up, I let him know I was seeing much better and wanted to hold off on the progressive lenses, and he agreed. They prepared a new adjusted estimate for the frames and single-prescription lenses which came to $434, with the discount. Still not great.

I hit the internet with a fury, there’s no way I would be paying full price for the frames, especially when you find out that brand names have zero bearing on the pricing structure. I eventually found them for $91 and following some sage advice, stopped by Costco to get a quote on the lenses. They charge $18 for supplying my own frames or rather, not buying theirs, and another $65 for lenses which include a good anti-glare coating and strong lens material. When my frames arrive, I’ll be taking my paper prescription over to my nearby Costco and putting in the order. My doctor’s office by the way, was fully prepared to hand over my prescription with their blessing that I shop around.

I felt guilty though. I knew I’d be using (well ok, paying) them for the resources and knowledge, then taking that elsewhere. I can’t articulate the guilt other than to tell you what it felt like when customers came into a shop I once worked at, tried things on and asked all the questions, then told us as they left the store empty-handed, they’d be buying the items online for less. I mean, we all do it but no one says it. Shopping online for the glasses felt cheap and a little tacky to be so forthcoming about my intentions to buy elsewhere, for the contacts too. But there they were, printed prescription with doctor’s signature outstretched, ready to hand the information over so I could totally circumvent their invoices.

The question now becomes, why on earth haven’t brick and mortar stores kept up with this online pricing structure? Sure they have staff to pay and rent but even so, why keep an assistant staff of seven daily plus two doctors, in a nice brand new office with tens of thousands of dollars worth of frames and contact supplies, just waiting around for the next sucker to not do their research and pay full price? Why is the consumer expected to pay all of that overhead, when they can receive the very same product for $400 less online? Are these stores being funded solely by the older generation or less tech-savvy people, who would rather entrust such a huge amount of money for a personal touch? Likely.

In my profession as a User Experience Designer (or Interaction Designer if you wish) efficiency and ease of use are our primary goals. Make sure the user knows exactly what to do on a website, find what they need, complete the process, and walk away without anger or retribution in his or her heart. When something isn’t working, it screams at us for a fix. Its waving hand stretches above the waves and begs for a better life preserver.

Were it my office, I’d pare down to a small shop with night and weekend hours (because unlike the old days of the family optician, everyone works and can’t always take time off for daytime appointments), keep a small staff to intake and assist, very limited frames in stock, and offer some deals for online purchases. Keep the overhead down, keep the cost to consumers down; forgo the waiting room Keurig for a more affordable way (especially for the “self pay” sort). Swim with the changing tide.

Costco has managed all of that but the online purchasing (though I’m sure they do that too). They have managed to work with a small staff, have limited frame options, and are able to roll the traditionally ridiculous cost of eyewear into the overall cost of doing business, to save their members a mint while still having a real doctor to sit in front of and speak to.

When I work at home, I sit next to D in our shared office and I listen to his UX struggles. I listen to his reactions to users who aren’t experiencing clear navigation through the site that they need (that they are paying for) and frustrated, are left to ask for support. I listen as the owners and managers make less-than-informed choices regarding better, clear UX and UI. I think about what an amazing time we live in, and how UX and UI are still so very misunderstood that a definition barely exists, and changes from person to person, depending on the position they fill or seek to fill. Its importance is rising to the surface like a bulb that was flickering and then is suddenly dialed in to illuminate the problems AND solutions. It is, in its own way, creating an informational revolution. Designers are holding the pitchforks and torches, waiting for the decision makers in the high towers of companies and industries to finally get with it and make the changes that ever faster must be made before their customers jump ship to competitors, with almost no thought. If the grass is greener, it’s because that house has a dedicated experience designer in it.

I Typed Too Soon (update – 3 updates!)

Here is an update to this post.

Yesterday about five minutes before a project review meeting with my counterpart, I received an email from my recruiter letting me know my contract wouldn’t be extended. I sat down a little shellshocked, particularly because my recruiters seemed so sure I’d be staying through April. My counterpart is also a contractor, though she’s been there for a long time and is in talks with HR to join the team as staff. I confided in her right away that I hadn’t had my contract extended and we talked about it for half an hour, before even touching our work. She ended our meeting with a hand on my shoulder and her sincere empathy.

The UX team welcomed me not as a temporary contractor, but as another team member. They included me on lunches, events, meetings, jokes, and research outings. We’ve connected, had great conversations, I am learning so much. But now it’s coming to an end sometime in the next two or three weeks. After I read the email I was, for the first time in a long time, heartbroken.

To be honest, at some point in the last week I started to get the feeling that I wouldn’t be staying and tiny as the feeling it was, began to prepare for the disappointment. The signs were there: My project meetings had been pushed off and cut short, I wasn’t invited to design sprints and concept exercises, the time and attention from others that I needed in order to successfully do the work I’d been assigned wasn’t there, and something told me not to upload my photo on the team Trello board until the extended contract had been drafted and signed. I did sign a congrats card or two but I didn’t chip in for the gifts.

They brought me in to cover for someone who was on leave while dealing with Visa issues, “for a few weeks” which turned into a few weeks more, then the option to be extended. I was a band-aid from the start, and I didn’t realize how advanced the work would be that I was dropped into. In fact, it wasn’t until yesterday’s meeting, four weeks into my contract, that key components of procedure and resources were finally shared with me. In the interview, my now-manager complimented me on the wireframes in my portfolio but when I worked the same way for the assigned project, was told they weren’t done in company style (“There’s a company style?” she asked, confused). In fact, during yesterday’s meeting with my coworker, she showed me for the first time, some procedural site design style sheets I’d never seen in the three weeks I’d had the project; key elements to succeed in the assignments they gave me were missing for weeks and no one thought to show me how they do the work. They’ve dropped the ball during my time there, it hasn’t been all rainbows and bon bons, but I was so thrilled to be there, I forgave and smiled.

Last week I was invited to a group lunch to welcome the newest (permanent) hire and in the invitation, I was included as part of the new blood. My gut told me not to go and celebrate, so I let the lunch planner know that my future was yet unclear and I felt uncomfortable being welcomed if I was leaving. Good thing because as I saw the group walk down the hallway to exit the building, noticed one of the directors was in attendance, and she surely must have known about the email I had yet to receive, since she’s been out of office on recruitment lunches for a week and a half. How foolish I’d have felt had I gone, only to return to that email.

I was seeing a fantastic therapist for about a year before we moved out of Chicago. I will readily admit it, I think therapy is great when you find the right person. I’d seen a few before and they never challenged me or held up a mirror in the way I needed, until her. She was truly great and I miss her so much, there is a lot I wish I could talk to her about.

In our sessions, she helped me to realize that I often keep one foot in the cynical world no matter the situation, so I can never be shocked when something crappy happens. At the same time however, when that crappy thing does happen, I beat myself up with something that sounds a lot like, “I should have seen that coming, I’m an idiot for letting myself get excited about ____”.

This was no different. I immediately felt foolish going on about how thrilled I was at the job, and how much I looked forward to work after years, YEARS, of never feeling that way. It was everything I wanted: casual dress, a short commute, frequent and authorized work from home, a warm and excellent program director, and friendly coworkers I actually wanted to hang out with. I tweeted about it, posted a job change to Facebook, bought a new laptop bag. Then… poof. I tried my best to keep the evil voices out that afternoon, “You’re terrible at UX and they don’t want you”, “You should go back to graphic design”, “You should have seen this coming and not gotten so attached”, and while my recruiter insists it’s a budget decision, that they can’t spend to keep me longer, and they only want senior level UX Designers for the team which I am not yet, that’s only a small consolation. There’s literally nothing I can do about my skill set, though I am trying to get better (and I have my opinions about ditching excited and skilled junior staff for the sake of habit-established senior) and I can’t help a budget.

Today, I decided to work from home and give myself a mental break. I’m updating my portfolio and resume, I’m sifting through recruiter emails and LinkedIn jobs, and all the while I just feel… sad. Just sad.

Update #2

Great news, friends! I asked my manager if I could make the Wednesday before Thanksgiving my last day rather than work the day after, when the office would be empty. She didn’t respond but rather, asked for a meeting so we could discuss it.

My recruiters had no information for me, surprise, so I walked in prepared for a long, drawn out reason for their not keeping me. I was extremely pleased to find out that not only did my manager never stipulate an end date to my contract, but that she and her boss, our director, were pissed when they heard my recruiters extended a possible offer in the first place. My contract was always open-ended, and she never implied otherwise. So after much discussion it was clear that after this gig is over, I would not retain my recruiters’ services.

My manager was clear to tell me they like the work I’m doing, like me as a person, and want me around through end of the year. So my contract was extended and I made sure to be paid for the two calendar holidays, I’ve been given a project that should carry me close to the end of the time, and it will benefit the team and those who come after. I look forward to work and am sad that my time with the team is ending, though not nearly as heartbroken as I was when I was under a false assumption.

PTSD and Learning the Ropes

I started a new UX contract position three weeks ago at a bank based here in central Ohio. It wasn’t at all the environment I thought I’d be in, you think bank and you picture suits, stuffy communication, cubicles, and the lamest lame that ever lamed. I am elated to report that this has not been that. At all. In the least.

While the rest of the company are in cubicles, walled off and cloistered, my IT team and I are in open pods. Desks facing each other to form a six-armed creative beast, chatting or earphones, standing or sitting. Oh, and we wear jeans. No one else there wears jeans, except on Fridays. It’s not an official law but we are overlooked and for that, I am grateful. Our director is open, kind, contributes frequently, and clearly values his carefully crafted team. Co-workers are left to design, build, create, fail, try again, present, and communicate freely. Some come in at 9 and leave at 4. Some come in at 10 and leave at 1 to finish the day at home. No one bats an eye, everyone is trusted to be adults and do the work. I’ve worked from home two days this week to absolutely no guff (on my brand new, gorgeous, company-supplied MacBook Pro).

This is – without hyperbole – the polar opposite of my previous employer. Most of them, actually. That adage about if managers and owners trust employees and treat them well, they won’t leave? That’s true. Several of my coworkers are contracted, like I am. I don’t know if they’ve been offered a job to stay on, but I know two have but haven’t accepted because they like the freedom of contract work. But it also means they’ve stayed on, uninsured, because they enjoy it there.

While the first few weeks were a little confusing and frustrating, I joined a team already well meshed and with projects in process, I learned the vibe of the group and learned to speak up with questions. I attend every meeting which could possibly teach me more or a new thing, and at my first user testing day a few weeks ago, I just sat there and soaked it in. It’s happening! I tried so hard to break into dedicated, professional UX and finally, someone let down the rope. They’ve made me feel part of the team, my manager is friendly and helpful, and the team members seem to really enjoy one another. Every day, something happens where I stand there boggled at what a difference this is compared to my previous work experiences. It’s a little like college. Yes, it’s about the job but it’s about so much more than the job, too. It’s about what you learn and what you bring in.

The UX conversations themselves are fascinating. Everyone in the room is a detail person, considerate of those around them, and concerned that communication is clear and with good intention. Problem-solving and finding ways to do things better, it’s what Interaction Design is about and its designers and writers reflect that. It’s a breath of fresh, safe employment air.

I have always been a lone wolf at every job (either my preference or accident) and I’m the first to admit that I don’t always do well in groups that I am not running. I feel insecure at their established bonds, not in on the joke, and uncomfortable at the idea of inserting myself into a group that may not want me. This is thinking and behavior that is dyed in the wool, and my new environment is challenging me daily to take out my earphones, ask someone a question that could lead to a non-work conversation, and find ways to get involved. I feel awkward doing those things, but I know that’s how the group bonded in the first place and I want to be part of them.

But because every silver lining has a touch of gray, a lunch I had with my recruiters last week left me feeling like an offer was surely coming, but two days ago they let me know that as the team is growing, the bank is interviewing and hiring (which they said was “due diligence”), and my future there is not, in fact, certain. If they offer a contract extension, it will be for six months. That will carry me through the holidays, a planned trip to New Orleans with a friend, and into April. That is more than enough time to get to Sr. Designer level, if I were to leave the bank. But the fear is that they will pass me over for those with more experience, in spite of being told I’m doing well and they like me there. Anxiety is always lurking in the corner and even when happy in my work, this is no different.

Sorry to end on a down note, it’s the piece of reality I need to keep with me to keep from being caught off guard. Fingers crossed that the next update involves a contract extension and so much more to learn.

Impostor Syndrome and Interviews

Painting delivered to great success. I haven’t given up the plan to make more but as of yesterday at 5 pm, I am scheduled for three interviews this week and they are getting all of my attention.

The first of three is later this afternoon. I’ll be meeting with six people over two and a half hours so I’ve spent the last day stalking the interviewers in LinkedIn, as you do, and cruising the company’s website to see where the problems might lie or where improvements might be made, in case they ask. I’m interviewing for a UX position in the e-commerce department and as I went through the motions of purchasing a pair of pants, I discovered broken code, confusing icons, and a lot of wasted space on the page. Perfect.

Some companies set up their interview procedures to be highly organized, full of detail and prep information, and appear to know what they’re hoping to get out of the day. Today’s is one of those. I’m told they’ve been looking for a month and haven’t spoken to too many people so this being the third interaction we’ve had and first in-person, I feel pretty far down the process and that may be a great sign.*

Cue the nerves. I don’t really get nervous for interviews anymore. Sometimes my gut feeling heads me off at the pass and I don’t invest too much ahead of time, other times I have a good (or no) feeling about an interview and the need or desire to impress is greater than the intuition about an outcome. That’s where I’m at now. As soon as I start going over technical interview questions and preparing for what they might ask or have me demonstrate, the tiny little voice starts to poke me in the ear canal: *You’re not good enough in your skills for this job and you don’t deserve it yet.

Imposter Syndrome is a real thing among a lot of professionals in most fields, which can be summed up in that one simple sentence shown above. No matter how much experience or years of practice, good work, awards won, teams contributed to, that little voice persists. I came across an article today on LinkedIn (which I barely look at, I kind of hate that site and only have it for professional reasons) that suggests maybe Imposter Syndrome isn’t the worst thing and in some cases, can even help:

“That brings us back to Impostor Syndrome. The 70% of us who have it? We might be the only hope to end the scourge of Expert Syndrome.

We need to take an ironic first step: we need to pretend we have confidence. When it comes to displaying confidence, we actually need to become the impostors we think we are.”

So with that, I dive back into my document of prep questions and scribble them in my trusty interview companion Molskine. I hope they spawn great conversation and learn things I actually want to learn about the company rather than drive away, wishing I’d remembered to mention or ask about a few key points.

I should add, the interview is for a major fashion chain so I’ve spent more than a few moments wondering what to wear. Typically I go for a slightly funky or quirky piece paired with classic or conservative staple items. This time, I’m going monochromatic gray and black, and I’m wearing boots in spite of a 90 degree late September day (what is UP with this heat?!) but for a bit of flair, I’ll add a fun flower pin to my black top, so they know they’re dealing with a creative. When in doubt, go classic.

Wish me some luck.

Trading Pixels for Oil Paints

For a few reasons, one of which is a wedding present, I picked my oil paints back up again after a four-year hiatus. In truth, the last time I went at them with sincere dedication was during a particularly broke Christmas, when all I had to give was my time and skill. Almost everyone in my family that year, got a painting. Of all of them, I’m really only proud of one, the rest I cringe when I see and fight the urge to ask if I can take home to improve.

To say that I’m rusty is fair, and to say that it’s like riding a bike is also fair. The wrist action and cleanup come right back, and true to form about halfway through a day of painting, I curse my choice to work in oils rather than acrylics.

Presently, I’m working on a portrait of Gomez, a friend’s Boston Terrier. Gomez’s mom is getting married in 10 days, and all I 20170913_115057can do is pray the paint will be dry enough to transport the work with minimal issues. I should have started earlier, I think about twice a day as I work on it. A particularly bitter thought considering I had this present idea exactly six weeks ago when the invitation arrived. Sigh.

Currently, Gomez’s face is about 50% painted and at some point, I realized his eyes weren’t right. One was, the other was not. I painted over the eye that was giving me trouble and will revisit it when that part dries. Then I stepped back and really looked at his ears. Not right either, too short.

 

Why didn’t I grid the painting and picture before starting? Again, the inner voice begins its familiar flog.

I lost natural light around 4:30 in the afternoon and when the light bulb hue and fixture glares started to interfere, so I stopped work for the day. I picked up a blank canvas and my ruler. The next portrait, I’m gridding. Take that, inner jerk. I chose the photo of my next subject and got out the guidelines in Illustrator. Using a grid, there was no way my mind was going to trick my eye into seeing what wasn’t really there like it was doing with Gomez.

I’ve heard digital designers say that they had no previous art experience before learning to design on computers. This has always troubled me and made me sad, a bit like the loss of teaching cursive and home ec. For one thing, if someone is a creative, presumably they’ve been a creative life-long,  and so somewhere out there surely was another creative pursuit to draw from, right? It is a corner of the brain that has to be used and stretched. If I didn’t have a lifetime of fine art experience, it’s hard to imagine what kind of designer I’d really be aside from a by-the-book one (and I’ve met a few of those).

20170913_182820.jpgI realized, after I painted over Gomez’s eye and the fear set in, perhaps the best thing about switching gears between digital art and fine art, is that they both share a skill for which digital design is synonymous: Problem solving. Something’s not working? Step back, analyze, adjust, proceed. When it happens in digital designs, sometimes I just wipe out the work and start all over (crtl+z is the best lifesaver around) but with paint or any other physical medium, that’s not always an option. Erasing Gomez’s eye to create a new one would have taken seconds on the computer but in oil paint? Now I need to wait for that little section to be touch-dry enough to work on it again. It was a decision that added two more days, at least, to my project. Oil pants, by the way, have anywhere from a five to 10-day dry time once the last bit is on the canvas. It’s a long game, to be sure. What a huge departure from digital work, which can be done in a matter of hours and sometimes days, and requires no setup or cleanup!

All art is a lesson in deliberate choices and forced patience, some mediums more than others. And like in life, when in doubt, stop before you’ve gone too far to turn back without risking the entire piece.

Gomez final

Gomez, complete.