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.
When I joined Circle as its third product designer, Circle Pay was available on iOS, Android, and the web. With my arrival, each designer could focus on a single platform. In my case, that meant our oldest app, Circle Pay for web. As I tackled the design of new features, I also sought to untangle inconsistencies, improve our internal design and development workflows, and build a solid, scalable foundation for the app’s future.
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.
As a Product Designer & Illustrator at Circle, it’s my job to manage and grow our custom icon set. I’ve built each icon according to the system Steve Stone outlined in Icon Sets with color override in Sketch. It's great …with one caveat. Sometimes, a designer needs to venture outside the brand palette.
Note: I have also published a version of this post to Medium
After several years of stewarding the To Boldly Fold brand and visual identity, I was thrilled to contribute to the design of our leather-bound books for the first time. The results were the Manifesto Series and Travel Series, two collections of handsome sketchbooks and journals.
To Boldly Fold isn't all leather sketchbooks and journals. Our line of hand-lettered goody bags bring a bit of whimsy and artistry to an everyday experience.