Friday, March 30, 2012

What's in a designer 's bookbag?

what's in my bag?From left to right: Reading materials, Grow a Game, Grapes, Laptop, Wacom tablette, laptop cleaners, pens, makers, pencils, dice, pencil case, scissors, sketchbooks, dongles, surge protector, ipod shuffle, index cards

At a recent workshop that I gave for a bunch of teenagers,  I was asked "what does a designer have in their bookbag?" by one of the participants. At first I thought it was a funny question and thought - obviously... metrocards, wallet etc. But after a little bit of  discussion, I dumped out my bookbag and watched the teens dissect my stuff.

The first things that they grabbed for (in order) were: my sketchbooks, my Wacom, my laptop, my books.

Although this was a casual interaction , it got me to thinking about a few things:

I am not just Jess, I am "Jess the Designer" 

This might be a silly point, but I realize that I represent some level of a career path that a teen could choose to take. So when they ask to see what's inside a designers bag, they are asking what it's really like to be a designer. They are curious about what putting on that "hat" or in this case, wearing that bag, would really be like.

Tools are personal

Everyone is intrigued by gadgets, but tools are personal. I found it intriguing that these teens who are passionate about technology first grabbed for my sketchbooks. They knew what they were going to find in there, my scribbles- plain ordinary books but they went for it. I think that like me, they crave something tangible. I like having accessible tools- since I design with community members and for participation, I try to have with me things that anyone can just pick up and use- that's why I have index cards, hello kitty markers, dice and paper. The teens asked me if everyone uses macs, or androids (my phone-  not pictured) and I told them that it was just what I used. I've talked about this before, but I am pretty agnostic about my tools: I use Adobe Photoshop and Aviary, I use a little of everything- and I like it that way.

Showing your bag is an extension of showing your process

At Mozilla, and just in general- the way that I work is called, "working in the open." I share the majority of my process- from sketches to interactive final deliverables. I think that sharing what you work with and how you work is just as valuable as the end product. Why? I value the experience and the craft of making something. Much of my stuff is made for the web, but that doesn't mean that I make it all on and with the web, I take my real-life personal and local world and experiences and bring that into my work.

What do YOU have in your bag? How do you share your process with your community?