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I can trust my gut more, now that my work has gone through this kind of scrutiny, and I’m less likely to let things slide if I don’t think they’re quite right.

Country of origin: Oregon, USA

In which Residency Program(s) did you participate?
Design Writing and Research Summer Intensive, 2013

What led you to participate in the Summer Residency Program?
It’s literally the only program in the country that truly focuses on writing about design, which is what I do for a living. I kind of fell into my current position through a peculiar combination of background and luck, and lack formal training as a writer or journalist, so the opportunity to develop my skills outside the constraints of a client or marketing brief was too good to pass up. Especially considering the quality of the faculty -- several of the lecturers are at the forefront of design writing in the US, and I already knew and respected their work tremendously.

What was the best part of your experience at SVA?
The clarity. It’s on a tight timeline, and the faculty are professionals who are used to working efficiently, so the assignments were well thought-out and clearly directed, and the critiques sharp, thoughtful and extremely valuable. It’s one thing to muddle your way through a dozen reviews or profiles on your own, but quite another to have a New York Times culture writer or BBC interviewer outline exactly what you need to be doing, and how to improve.

How did the Residency Program contribute to your development as a professional design writer?
It gave me a stronger framework for my future writing, and a better vocabulary for talking about it. It also did a lot to confirm and refine some of the habits I’d already been developing as a writer. I can trust my gut more, now that my work has gone through this kind of scrutiny, and I’m less likely to let things slide if I don’t think they’re quite right. There’s an expectation for precision and solid argument in the professional writing world, and I’m more able to hold myself to that standard now that I’ve seen what it looks like.

What's going on in your studio now?
Plenty! Ziba, the design agency where I work, has been ramping up editorial output since last summer, and this has meant a lot of co-writing with our designers and creative directors on articles for external publications like Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Forbes. Our News section has a sampling of recent pieces, several of which I helped write. I also work closely with our other writer at Ziba on a weekly Trends blog, and there’s a fair bit of (unfortunately confidential) client-facing work as well.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experiences in the program or after?
Only that it’s a lot of work, the classmates are fantastic and living in New York is a learning experience unto itself.

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