“I can tell you all you want to hear – but I am just going to count my blessings.”
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Life, sketchbook

Count your blessings…

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Life, Work

First impressions on becoming a manager

These drawings are from a few years ago when I got promoted from being a designer to a design manager. I worked as part of a large inhouse design team at Adobe, and my responsibilities included only the experience design of one or two software applications.

So up until then I was a shy quiet type content to be left alone and then, suddenly I found that I was not going to be left alone at all! Meetings, emails, decisions – my presence was requested.

I had to be prepared for scrutiny and judgment, and every situation felt like it was a test. But over time I figured out a strategy for myself.

If you’re going through a similar experience, my advice would be to keep at it – eventually it will sort itself out.

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Life, sketchbook

“Nature is not landscape”

A couple of years ago we used to live in a house with lovely flowering shrubs all around. This is one spring Sunday morning when my mother-in-law and I were drinking tea in the front garden.

[We stood and admired nature in all it’s wonderful forms and breathtaking palettes. Breathed deeo the sweet smell of the madhabilata hedge in all its flowering spring. And later remembered Bridget Riley, whose birthday it is, and who said,

“I work with nature, although in completely new terms. For me, nature is not landscape but the dynamism of visual forces.”]



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gutotales, Life, sketchbook

Propelled into motherhood

In the early days of being a mother I hardly had time or energy to draw. I went back to working full time when Orin was four months, and we had a nanny in the day time to look after him. Both the brown boy and I were lucky to have the choice to work flexible hours which is so important when you’re a new parent.

I started drawing again when Orin was about seven or eight months old and my drawing had of course suffered. Not only was my skill rusty but also lack of sleep had nearly killed my imagination – but I kept on drawing. The journals from those years were quite terrible, but I still needed to draw, to make sense of life unfolding. Here are a few scattered drawings from those years.

Happiness is early mornings
It’s nice to be the center of someone’s universe
Friday 29th April: Orin’s baby steps and a giant leap in our baby proof scheme.
It’s called peace

From the journal Brain cut wild, 2016

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Books, sketchbook

Another one from The Only Story

As I wrote the other day, The Only Story was thought-provoking, not least in the social mores that it strove to question, but also about the very banal nature of love.

I often draw in my sketchbook about the books I read, fodder for the drawing in a way. These pages were made while reading The Only Story.

Who can control how much they love? If you can control it, then it isn’t love. I don’t know what you call it instead, but it isn’t love.

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

[Finished The Only Story the new book by Julian Barnes. A tale of such unequal love, and so much pain.]

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Books, Design

Empathy, a guide for myself

When I graduated from design school, I didn’t feel equipped to be a designer in the real world. I remember that I even googled for “core skills of a designer” and found that empathy was an important skill to have, so I started to teach myself to be a more empathetic designer.

[Empathy
The hardest skill that I tried to teach myself for a decade but finally this is the book that helped, Dare to Lead by author Brene Brown. She clearly breaks down empathy into skills.
For me though the number 1 skill is to Listen. I’m so uncomfortable with silence I keep talking and forget to listen. How to listen:
1 – Hear what is being said
2 – Absorb and try to understand
3 – Respond not react

Brene Brown says the top empathy skill is Perspective taking.

“Honour people’s perspectives as truth even when they’re different from us.

Brene Brown


Become the learner not the knower. I think this is the biggest breakthrough for me — the shift in mindset from “knowing” to “learning”.

And coming to why empathy is a core skill for designers: It starts with Curiosity, Learning, Empathy, which is used throughout the design process: To understand users better, to create inclusive product experiences, to stay problem-focused, not solution-focused, to grow and learn from feedback, and to be the best coworker and collaborator you can be.
And the true test of empathy is in practising it daily until it becomes second nature. So best foot forward towards being a more empathetic designer!]

Dedicated to Raj and JD.

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