29 Apr

Celebrating 5 Years: Ryan Kelly

Today we are celebrating another five year work anniversary, Ryan Kelly, Senior UX Designer. Ryan has been a critical part of our UX team for the last 5 years, sleighing any UX task that comes before him, and known for his friendly, upbeat personality. He’s also a talented illustrator, often seen with a sketchbook in his hands, doodling or drafting up the next logo or practicing his hand lettering. Check out this graphic for more info about Ryan, and read our incredible interview:


 

 

1: What do you like most about working at 11P? Simple. I love the people! We’re fun, exciting, and freaking talented! I have never worked with such a diversely talented group of people. That alone, is inspiring…and motivating! Our company is run by wonderful people who make it their priority to put us first no matter what. I’ve worked for both small and large companies and by far, Kristen and Bryan got it right.

 

2: What is a favorite 11P memory? Visiting Atlanta for the HOW Conference. So many memories made during that weekend! From spending time with friends to walking away truly inspired and ready to crank out some awesome creative stuff!

 

3: What is your favorite Christmas present ever received from 11P?  Technically the Squatty Potty was an employee white elephant gift. So probably the Disney trip. Duh!

Jesse Evans brought a Squatty Potty to our holiday party white elephant gift exchange. I got it. Someone stole it from me. Luckily, Albert also brought the same gift! But unfortunately someone stole that one too. I think I ended up with some Goslings Rum.

So yeah, Disney.

 

4: What is your favorite 11P event? Needless to say that our holiday parties are always fun. Especially when you win big at blackjack! The Parks definitely know how to throw a party. It’s great to get all the peppers together since we don’t get to see each other all the time.

 

5: If you were a pepper, what type of pepper would you be and why? Poblano. It’s mild and versatile. Everyone likes a poblano. You can stuff it, chop it, stick ’em in a stew.

 

6: Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice: Krista Cochran.
Krista’s the type of person you can totally open up to. She became a pepper in 2015 and went straight to work on our UX team and instantly, a life-long friendship was created. We might have been regulars at a local sandwich shop for lunch. Codename: DOGPOUND

 

7: Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you: Melissa “the Don” London.
The Don’s work ethic is legendary. I hear her name whispered from time to time between our customers. No joke, the new team I’m on brought me an example of a brochure she designed and asked us to “do something like this.” Now those were big shoes to fill.

 

8: My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame!
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

 

Get to know Ryan a little bit better…

1: Favorite Star Wars character and why?
Chewbacca. Well, I can do a pretty good Chewbacca roar.
Other reasons:
Chewbacca sounds from everyday objects
10 best Chewbacca quotes

 

2: You’ve just brewed the perfect IPA. Describe the flavor. What it’s called?
*the perfect hazy NEIPA…
It’s called “Floccinghell, this is good!”
The reference is from yeast “flocculation.” And I might sometimes say this after sipping a perfectly crafted NEIPA.
The description: A fluffy mouthfeel with a citrusy burst of tropical fruits and maybe a subtle coconut.
Thirsty now aren’t you…

 

3: Favorite local brewery? Favorite national brewery?
Local: Sapwood Cellars in Columbia – the owners are known nationally for their skill and pushing the limits. We’re lucky to have them so close!
National: The Veil in Richmond – Every single beer they put out is perfect. And their taste in artwork is pretty cool too. They put on the best festival I’ve ever been too called the Forever Summer Festival. You must attend if you like craft beer!

 

4: Name your favorite all-time Orioles player.
This may be a shock to some people, but no not Ryan Flaherty (or Ron Flattery as he’s called by some lower shoremen). Eddie Murray – He played first base and could hit from both sides of the plate. His stats are amazing. He’s why I chose to play first base growing up.

 

5: If you were a pro baseball player, what would your up-to-bat walk-up song be?
Wake up, Rage Against the Machine

 

6: Favorite daddy/daughter time event?
She is a dancer. It doesn’t matter where we are. Out of nowhere she will come up to me, grab my hands, and get me to do a quick dance move (usually spin her) and go about her way. It could be while shopping in the mall, the middle of Baltimore Inner Harbor, or on our way to her teeball game. I love this and hope that she never stops doing it.

 

7: How many times have you watched your daughter’s favorite movie (estimate), and what is it?
Well, her favorite movie changes from time to time…but we have watched “Dolphin Tale” over 1,000 times. She loves dolphins (probably because her god-mama, Aunt Erica does as well). We went to the Baltimore Aquarium during Fleet Week one year and she wanted to go down to talk to the dolphin trainers. She asked 100 questions and told them she wanted to save dolphins one day.

 

8: Favorite movie of all time?
Usual Suspects. “I’ll flip ya fa real.”

 

9: Any secret talents or hobbies? If so, what?
I consider myself a craftsman. I tear stuff apart and put it back together. I like woodworking, maintaining my car, and creating something from nothing to hang on a wall. Side note: my jetta currently has 275,000 miles and I’ve done all the maintenance on it. I’m a little proud of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Aug

Pepper Talk with Kathryn Gruver

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kathryn with us…yep, another Kathryn! Just a little background before we get started, Kathryn has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over two years. She is an Art Director and works with customers to improve their user experience.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
I’ve had a lot of nicknames. The most recent is mamamamamama.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Kick the dog off the bed [pauses and laughs], again! Make sure no one else is awake, and read a devotional. Got to start the day off right!

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I try to make the style of my work more reflective of my customer’s identity rather than my own. Other than that, I like to make beautiful, smart, and meaningful projects.

 

4: How did you get started?
In college I was a studio art major and did a lot of drawing and building. Once I graduated, I realized that I wanted to do graphic and web design, that’s what they called it “back in the day”. So, I went to night school to learn the tools of the trade, and behind me sat two designers that were taking the class for career development. Unbeknownst to me, they watched me work in class every night; and they eventually introduced themselves and offered me a job as a designer!

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hands-down, my favorite tool is Illustrator; I think it’s because of my intense love of drawing. While I always like learning new tools and tricks, I feel most at home working in Illustrator. I know it inside-out and even have dreams about it. I also get a buzz from working in InDesign and PhotoShop. The worst tool – any printer; why don’t they just work?! Do your job, expensive machine!

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I usually get a little over-excited when I start a new project. After I calm myself down, I try to find out as much as I can about the project or problem-set, customer, stakeholder and users; and then start the brainstorming process.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Dribbble, abduzeedo and sometimes Pinterest.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Half-caff.
Sweet or Savory: SWEET!
Favorite Movie: Troy; you have love stories, there’s drama, you have war and strategy – what more could you want?!
Guilty Pleasure: Ironing [pauses and grins] okay, I can’t think of a good one. And I don’t iron.
Hobbies: Reading, baking, drawing, chasing and being tackled by small children, and Bible study.
Skill you’d like to master: In my dreams I would like to build furniture; in reality, I’d like to get my kids to eat vegetables.
Best vacation: Before we had children, my husband and I drove up the West coast from San Francisco to Seattle with no plans. It was beautiful and we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.
One of your quirks: There are so many… I guess the most prevalent is that I hate wearing shoes, I would rather go barefoot.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
The Google machine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kathryn. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

30 Jun

Pepper Talk with Kate Coates

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kate with us… nope, you’re not seeing double, we just have a lot of repeated names. Just a little background before we get started, Kate just celebrated her 2 year work-aversary with Eleven Peppers Studios. She is one of our esteemed Art Directors and spends a lot of her time working with customers to improve their user experience designs.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
My parent’s original intention was for me to go by Katie but I rebelled in 3rd grade and decided from thence forth I was going to be Katherine. That was a bit short lived though. It was the year of learning cursive… and so I ended the year as Kate. It’s kind-of funny that I started my journey as Kate out of pure 3rd grade laziness but it stuck. Really it worked out perfectly because I ended up with a sister-in-law that goes by Katherine.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze! It’s a terrible habit that I developed during my marriage. I used to be able to get up and out the door in ten minutes flat, nutrigrain bar in hand, but once you discover that button, there’s no going back.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I tend to lean towards a more flat, Bauhaus style. Just the Bauhaus’ notion of placing profound focus on the purpose or function of the design is something I relate to very strongly, especially within UX design. Really that is what UX is all about, not just making things pretty but making sure the site or tool is usable and efficient…not saying it shouldn’t look good too.

 

4: How did you get started?
My first official foray into design was in 12th grade when half of my school day was an internship in the design department of a company called United Communications Group (UCG). It’s there that I officially found that graphic design was the place for me and launched into my undergraduate design career. But really growing up in the house of an architect father and a crafty mother, it came as no surprise to friends and family that I ventured off in the arts direction…

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hmm, I’m not sure I can think of a worst off the top of my head but favorite is pretty easy. A few years ago I would have said Photoshop hands-down but in the recent years Illustrator has become my best friend. It’s great for everything that I currently focus on at work, from wireframes and mockups to logos and branding. I live in a digital world. Vector all day, every day.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I tend to start with the question: “Who are the users and what are their goals?” It’s only through answering that question that I can make sure that the design that’s going to follow makes sense for the end user. If I miss answering that question, the design will just be a lofty guess that is half-baked at best. I’ve found desk-side interviews and lots of research is key for kicking off a successful, user-experience focused tool.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
From my peers. It’s great to be surrounded with other UX people to bounce ideas off of and sketch out new possibilities. On top of that using websites and mobile tools daily to see what other people are doing is a huge source of inspiration too.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine. No coffee, no tea, just the occasional Dr.Pepper [grins]
Sweet or Savory: Sweet (Really gotta kick my new brownie obsession…)
Favorite Movie: Honestly, I’ve become more of a T.V. person then a movie person…so I’m not really sure.
Guilty Pleasure: Did I mention brownies? [laughs]
Hobbies:: Refurbing my 1908 home (two rooms away from being done!!) and spending time with family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Hands down, the Design Army’s campaign for the Washington Ballet’s show, Alice in Wonderland. The combination of photography and typography is absolutely breathtaking. I actually have several of the images at my desk for inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kate. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

24 Mar

Pepper Talk with Ashley Philip

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, you just couldn’t get enough of the first one so we’ve added in a couple more questions and a rapid-fire round! This month we have Ashley with us. Just a little background before we get started, Ashley has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over a year now. She works with our commercial clients on all sorts of projects and also designs graphics for various in-house and social media channel campaigns.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Not really [pauses] most people automatically just shorten my name to “Ash” anyway.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check my phone to see if I missed any calls, texts, emails, Slack messages [grins].

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
Timeless. I like making complicated things look completely effortless. I’m interested in anything that can last through the years and aren’t just “trends” at the moment.

 

4: How did you get started?
I went to school at UMBC for Visual Arts and volunteered with AIGA Baltimore overseeing all their social media graphics and various other marketing materials for each of their events.

 

5: What are you favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Ooh very hard to say because each software does a job. [pauses to think] My favorites would have to be Illustrator and Sketch. Illustrator mainly because that’s the software I remember most of the key commands for and plus, it’s precise and Sketch is like a mini-version of Illustrator although much more efficient. The worst for me, I would have to say Photoshop, sorry designers, but I’m not the biggest fan [laughing].

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I remember when I was in school, the second I received a project brief, the very first thoughts I had running through my head 99% of the time, would always be the best idea/end result. Anything that came after were duds. I kind of need to picture the end result of something first, this is when I delve into the ample amounts of research to see whether or not the idea will work or what I can do to make it even better.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Literally everything! From photography to fashion to architecture, I’m incredibly interested in what makes something resonate with people and am continuously trying to implement that in my own work.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: No, I never understood the caffeine craze.
Sweet or Savory: Uhm, both?
Favorite Movie: A Walk to Remember, because who doesn’t love
a sappy love story.
Guilty Pleasure: Reality TV of all kinds.
Hobbies:: Working out, spending time with friends and family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Mhm hard to say. I can appreciate anything that is very well designed but it doesn’t make me wish I came up with it first. Instead, I’d like to pick the brains of these people to further understand how they got to their end result. When I see a great design, I’m so much more curious about the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Ashley. Like the additional questions? Make sure you let us know on social media. And remember, we’ll be introducing a different pepper each month so stay tuned!!!