When I joined Circle as a product designer, I was hired, in part, for my background in illustration. But that “nice to have” soon became my central focus. I’ve spent years defining and evolving the Circle illustrative brand, cementing its place in our products, website, marketing campaigns, and more.
How to Draw a Startup is a new personal project of mine, a podcast miniseries about the evolving role of illustration in the tech industry. I spoke with over a dozen illustrators, designers, art directors, educators, and more to understand why illustration is used, how illustrated brands are crafted, and where illustrators fit in creative teams.
With the limitations of a small design team, early versions of Circle Pay primarily relied upon off-the-shelf icon sets. But after I joined and began creating illustrations for product and brand, I soon set my sights on icons. I made a few as needed, but replacing the old set entirely wasn't worth the design and development commitment. But with Circle Invest, I was there from the beginning.
As a financial tech startup, Circle’s apps have always needed to represent currency. Circle Pay got its start as a Bitcoin wallet, and within a couple years added US Dollars, British Pounds, and Euros. Custom icons were made for these four currencies, showing up throughout the app and its marketing.
But Circle Invest called for even more. The app offers _thirteen_ different crypto assets. Presenting these disparate crypto projects in a coherent and consistent way would advance Invest's mission to make crypto more approachable. I set out to create a unified set of crypto icons. Easier said than done…
Circle Invest isn’t just the best way to buy crypto, it’s the best way to learn about it. The "Explore" section of our app features approachable, informative content to help you develop your understanding of the world of blockchain. For each article, I’ve created a unique editorial illustration.
In addition to my usual product design and illustration duties at Circle, I have a fun little side project: creating custom wallpapers for my colleagues' phones. Each illustration features a few of our unofficial mascots, a crew of adorable crustaceans. What started as a monthly project has since become quarterly, as I kept getting more and more ambitious. So much for a "side project!"
In one of my favorite projects of 2015, I tackled a logo for an up and coming kids brand—and I mean "kids brand" literally; it's made by an 8 year old. Cole Benoit makes and illustrates awesome handmade paper puppets. I helped give his company, Papar Pupit Pepol, some professional polish.
After nearly ten years of working in the fast paced, ephemeral realm of online experiences, we at Fresh Tilled Soil decided to stop, think, and get some ink on our hands. The result was Fold, the company's first-ever print publication. In addition to design and editorial contributions, I illustrated nine portraits for a feature story on leadership in the digital design industry.
The Roberts Collection is a set of inns set in the heart of beautiful, historic Nantucket. When Fresh Tilled Soil created a new website for the inns in 2013, I created an illustrated map to represent the once disparate buildings as a cohesive group. The Gate House, as well as the courtyard before it, was under construction during our engagement, and was thus rendered from blueprints and in-progress snapshots. In addition to the full color map, I produced four additional images (each highlighting a single building) for the inns' individual information pages.
More Illustration Projects
Since I joined Fresh Tilled Soil in 2012, the company has known four offices: two headquarters and two satellites. It's been my joy to illustrate them all for our website, to capture the architectural spirit of each environment. From brick-and-beam New England mills to downtown San Francisco, they presented unique challenges and opportunities.