Pinterest as a time saver

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in Thoughts

Pinterest is great. Not just because a ton of people use it, but because it actually fits into my daily life and simplifies my tasks all with a pretty simple and intuitive UI.

Admittedly, I’m not too big of a fan of social functions just for the sake of being social, but I’m not really using the social functions of Pinterest to whatever full advantage I could be. Instead of saving oh so many files to my desktop, with the hopes of one day sorting through them, I can sort them as i pin them. I know not everyone on Pinterest had that tendency before they joined, but it’s definitely improved my workflow a whole lot in collecting inspiration.

The second best thing is automatic moodboards. They’re not as pretty as the ones I used to layout in InDesign, but they’re also a lot quicker to whip up and get the gist of a project conveyed a lot quicker – which leaves more time for the design phase. And the client can even join in and help pin too if they’re so inclined.

Feeding my passion for making things is number three on my list. For a long time I never bothered to surf through other’s pins, but now that I’m on that bandwagon, I finding all kinds of patterns, tutorials, and simple inspirational things that I can make for my home, my wardrobe, and my dinner.

My biggest board has got to be the clothing I could make myself board. I aptly named it this to imply that it’s clothing that I’m capable of making, and clothing that I want for myself. It also helps me feel a little better when all I do is pin things and never get around to making them. Which doesn’t happen too frequently surprisingly. I’ll be posting projects in the near future of my Pinterest (and other) experiments.

All the good bits of Amanda

Posted on Sep 16, 2013 in Thoughts

A few years back, I used to blog. Not because I had to for school (although I did), or because it would improve SEO for my site (which it did), but because I genuinely enjoyed sharing my ideas with the world.

As much as my history helps shape my future, it doesn’t define who I am now. So I’d like to skip past the excuses of why I haven’t been making regular contributions to my web server and just jump into the good parts of what I plan to do.

So what I plan to do is reveal ALL of the good bits (and maybe some of the not-as-good) that make up Amanda Healey. Not just the UX Amanda, nor the visual designer. Because whether I’m searching for my next job at a company, a side project that I hope propels me to one day work for myself, or I just want to put an idea out there to see what happens, I put all of myself into that. You can’t hire me for UI design without getting my knack for typography, love of simple nature, and appreciation of the renaissance masters. I can’t be commissioned for a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing for a discount price because I’ll leave my color theory, project management experience and inspirational travels out of the equation. That’s just not who I am, or what my work stands for.

I plan to say no to more requests that begin with ‘I just…’ And yes to more projects that feel good.(I’ll elaborate that more in a future post) I plan to use my creative elemental essence to redesign this site and make it ‘holistically Amanda’. I’ll post photos and art and stories about life, design, and anything else that tickles my fancy. I hope you’re as excited to join me on the ride as I am to have you.

Stay tuned and I hope you join in on any tickle fights that happen along the way :)

creative elemental

Posted on Sep 7, 2013 in Thoughts

I recently read Carrie McCarthy & Danielle Laporte’s book, Style Statement. It’s an inspirational workbook of sorts, written to help a person delve a little deeper than what a personal brand would cover. A personal brand is all about how others perceive you. Instead, this book is about defining the essence of the reader, which they can then use as a compass to design the life they really want to be living.

They do this by asking the reader to finish a series of sentences, pick out the themes, and eventually use those themes to choose two words that sum up their essence and how they express it. The first word is the foundation and represents 80% of the individual. The second word is the creative edge that sets them apart from the rest.

Interestingly enough, I was already pretty in tune with what I wanted out of life. But lately I’m really trying to narrow down my ideas into concrete words to be able to talk about them with others, so I went ahead and did the exercises. I struggled a bit narrowing down three words (creative, designed, elemental) into two and even more in trying to figure out what my foundation is and what my creative edge is. I’m still not sure  I’ve struck the balance. But this is what I’ve chosen:


I think I’ve learned to design through formal training, research and personal exploration, but I’ve always been innately creative. I NEED to make things, create, talk about ideas. Elemental’s a bit tricker to describe, but it’s more about figuring out how things work. Even now as I’m writing this I wonder if I should switch the 80/20 around. I’ll leave you with the description of each word that I found in the book, and ask you to leave comments as to which way you think I should arrange my words.

Creative is a life-affirming explorer. Gifted with fantastic imaginations, create will seek out originality, unique people and experiences, abstract thinking, and fantastical whimsical notions. Small-mindedness and regulation deeply pains create. Resourceful, determined, and passionate, they can find a way through any circumstance. Naturally flexible and positively capable of reinventing themselves and turning situations around, they tend to be comfortable with change. Fully expressed, creative is a powerful force that can inspire people to change for the better or to shift directions. They are highly sensitive to their surroundings and for better or worse, can be sponges for emotions and information. They feel most useful when they are being inspired or inspiring others. They live to express themselves in their own way. On a dark day, they feel disconnected from their source of inspiration – whether it be material or immaterial, earthly or divine –  adrift or on the outside of things. In the best of times, creative feels a deep sense of harmony and synchronicity with positive forces that keep life moving forward. Creative endeavours to respect others’ forms of expression and can be very tolerant.

Elemental is interested in the underlying forces of life: what inspires and moves people, the miracle and majesty of nature, the machinations of science and engineering, the mysteries of the universe. They love to unearth the guiding theme or architecture of things, and if answers and origins can’t be found, they will devise their own theories and stories. Fantastical, ethereal, gossamer, fluid and having a mischievous sense of humour, elemental is a dreamer who loves to bring the magical into everyday life. They often find themselves at the intersection of art and science. They are incredibly adept at juggling logic and faith, gentleness and passion, fluidity and force. They can easily go off on tangents and may become untethered from practicalities. Balance is critical to their success on all levels. They love to roam and explore, so they usually feel at home wherever they are. They relish good conversation about the divine, physics, psychology and cultural tides. They are philosophers at heart and need creative outlets to wonder aloud and express their perceptions of the world.



change of mind (but my heart’s still singing the same tune)

Posted on Nov 30, 2012 in Thoughts

Wait a minute! Stop the presses! I started looking for the best companies to work for, I wanted to work with awesome people and make awesome things for awesome people, change some lives, you know? But I just LOVE LOVE LOVE being an entrepreneur.

Mulierose is great and I’ve learned a lot over the past year. Having a say over it all, holding the high level creative and business strategy. But at the same time I keep thinking back to Mark Busse’s article on Design Edge about starting a business fresh out of school. I’m not fresh out of school, but I want to make sure that I can deliver a quality product to my customers.

So when IS the best time to go solo?

I’ve been charging for my design thinking for ten years now, and been doing it long before I was paid to do it. I’ve worked hard at my day job and moonlighting gigs, sought out and given advice whenever I can, stretched my mind and expanded my skills; I’ve put in my 10,000 hours.

I keep thinking about Ideo, Google – great companies, smart employees, innovative products. That’s where I’ve always wanted to end up. But now I’ve had a change of mind, a more direct approach – I want it to be mine. My brain child, my solution, my team.

Not that it’s all about me.

I want a team of awesome people to work with. I want to teach them and learn from them. Quick and nimble, working on innovative projects that contribute to the well-being of mankind. Make tough decisions, manage hard projects, break the mold (if warranted), care about more than the paycheque and to be a champion of the end user.

Yes I want to be on top of it all, but I also want to take talented individuals up the ladder with me.

So the question to get me started on starting small as a solo-preneur is: How can I help you? What do you need that you’re having trouble finding elsewhere? What problem can design solve for you?

GDC and CAPIC annual picnic

Posted on Aug 27, 2011 in Thoughts

Other than my usual 9 to 5 job, I took the spring and summer off (of my usual packed schedule) to deal with some health issues and let my body heal. But fall is slowly creeping up on us and I’ve been getting a little anxious being house bound for so long. I had a great opportunity to climb back into the saddle when I attended the annual GDC (Graphic Designers of Canada) and CAPIC (Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators) picnic yesterday evening at Trout Lake.

The organizers put on a great party. There was a blender on a bicycle to mix margaritas, a potato gun shooting beenie babies at regular intervals, and lots of hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks and snacks to go around. People were super friendly and I was reminded by Mark Busse and passed on the information that Vancouver is having it’s first very own CreativeMornings on Friday, September 2nd. CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk, plus coffee! (I copied that straight from the website). Stewart Butterfield, one of the founders of Flickr, will be speaking at the first event at the Woodwards building atrium. Tickets are available 11am Monday morning. Get yours before they sell out!

Having been in the game industry for nearly a year now, and not taking on any freelance projects since 2010, I felt a tad sheepish showing up at the picnic when I’m not really part of either industry. Luckily I brought my friend and motion designer, Shawn Hight, along with me. We met some new people, and part way through he left for previously made plans. At that point in the night I was fully warmed up and found myself chatting up a storm with a picnic table full of game designers, interactive designers, and software engineers from the game design industry. It turns out I was right at home.

Later on I migrated to a picnic table of three photographers, all lovely people with whom I hope to work with in the future. I met a brilliantly talented fine artist who has migrated her skills to a PC tablet, all the while keeping her traditional media style about her work. I reconnected with the president of CAPIC, whom I met last fall at a Likemind event.

I collected a few business cards, gave some advice, and got some in return; but most of all I shared in the smiles and laughter of a passionate group of creative people for no gain that personal pleasure. The people, and their energy is the reason I am drawn to be a creative. I suspect I always will be, no matter what industry I work in.


3 R’s & clothing

Posted on Apr 5, 2011 in Fashion, Thoughts

I’ve grown up in a society that puts a stress on recycling and composting, and not putting so much in landfills. I don’t have a beef with recycling at all, but what I do have a problem with is the lack or resources to accommodate the first two R’s: Reduce, and Reuse. Although Fergie’s dress is probably made of never-been-played-with lego’s, I still think it’s pretty innovative and inspirational in it’s own right. As a lover of fashion, individuality, and saving the world, I see this as one more little step to linking them all together. I have some more ideas on that, that I’ll be blogging about in the future.

VFS Impact awards

Posted on Feb 20, 2011 in Thoughts

Amanda and Shawn at the VFS Impact Awards

I was cruising around the interweb the other day, and I stumbled upon a photo of myself and my friend Shawn Hight on the VFS Flickr account. It looks like they’re a little behind, but it’s from the first Impact Awards last summer, in which Taura Hanson and I were nominated for the 0 to 60 award (for excelling at using a piece of software or hardware without previous knowledge to create a project) for our final In The Beginning.

Rubber boots in Seattle

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 in Thoughts

rubber boots
Before I begin, I should say this is all my own rambling thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the last week.

A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Seattle for the weekend to explore the city. I had no real destinations in mind other than the Pike Market, but I’ve lived 3 hours north of this city for the last two years and I’ve never been. So I went.

I went armed with only two pair of footwear. For any of you that know me, yes, shocking. For those in Seattle, yes, shocking as well, because one of those fancy pairs of footwear were my rubber boots. It rained most of the weekend, and half of it I wore my boots. I swear half of the passerbys took a glance down at my feet as well. Once I caught on, I to started examining everyone’s feet as they passed. Over two full days of wandering, shopping and eating, I only saw one other guy with rubber boots on, and they weren’t nearly as fancy as mine.

I also didn’t see anyone meandering about in a dress either. But that’s besides the point. I can’t be the crazy one. In my head, the sensible dress of the Seatlites (while no one had bare legs, they also weren’t completely covered head to tow in a parka like some unclimatized individuals of Vancouver) represents the types of people that live there. (Although that’s pure speculation because I only know people who live there) While the more decorative rubber boots of the Vancouverites, and the various groups of people who are not used to the wet and rainy (and for some, chilly) weather of the coast, symbolize a more creative community where everything is always changing.

It’s interesting to compare and contrast our American neighbours only 3 hours to the south and see how different they really are from us north of the border.

Or maybe I’m just the crazy one….

We take our jobs seriously

Posted on Jan 23, 2011 in Thoughts

seriously, no spec

During the fall, I was working on a short film alongside Sandra Rojas Gonzalez called Growing Up Julianne. We’ve successfully finished that project, Sandra’s graduated with flying colours from the Entertainment and Business management program at VFS, and we’re now working on turning that short film into a webisodes series. While the first project seemed like a mad dash to the finish line, as all final projects at VFS do, we’re planning on taking our time producing the series. Not only will bodies thank us in the long run, so will our bank accounts.

The short film was able to be produced on a very minuscule budget, with a lot of work and effort being rewarded with things other than money. This time around, I’m happy to say, we won’t be working on spec, and won’t be asking any of our help to do so either. While this is a passion project, we’re all working professionals hoping to make a career (or in my case, a secondary, on-the-side career) out of this type of work. If we don’t take ourselves seriously and pay us according to the time we put in, how can we expect any future employers to do so?

Cuts for Cancer

Posted on Jan 21, 2011 in Thoughts

donate to cuts for cancer

Ever since I shaved my head in December of 2007, I’ve wanted to grow a healthy head of hair to donate to make wigs for children who have lost their hair from chemotherapy. You might want to read that line again. Or maybe you knew me, and you know that story. For those of you who don’t, it’s a pretty simple one.

Every year at KFL&A Public Health, the employees donate a portion of their paycheques to the United Way. 6 or 7 years ago, the director or corporate services challenged the staff. He promised that if they ever raised over 10 thousand dollars, he would shave his head. At the time, they were raising about $3000, and it probably seemed like an impossible feat and safe challenge. Fast forward to 2007, and the staff at KFL&A Public Health had raised over 11 thousand dollars internally. It was pure awesomeness for roughly 200 people to open up their wallets and donate so generously to a great organization.

The time for Tony to succumb to the clippers was near. As a crowd gathered in the auditorium to watch and heckle, a colleague named Gord stepped up and challenged the crowd, “If you raise $200 right now, I’ll shave my head today too”. The crowd started digging in their pockets, and about 5 minutes later, and halfway through Tony’s haircut, I piped up after giving it little thought and shouted, “If you raise $500, I’ll shave my head.” Within an hour the money was raised, and after Gord had his head shaved, so did I.

It was one of those things that I had always wanted to do, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had just left a long-term relationship with an abusive partner, and I was aching to get rid of the old me and embrace a new one. It’s funny how much shaving my head did that for me. It totally stripped me of my old outside self, and gave way for a new inner self to shine through. At the same time, it stripped away the overly processed hair and gave me a chance to start from scratch too.

While it was a great fundraiser, and a great life experience, I felt somewhat disappointed that my head hadn’t been long enough to donate to Locks of Love, or a similar charity. I’ve never been overly attached to my appearance, and don’t depend on my hair for my sense of identity. I remember thinking if all I had to do was take care of it, (which also meant spending no money on the multicolour that I was trying to maintain) while it grew out, then that was my next challenge.

2008, 2009, and 2010 passed and I was itching to get rid of the length. I hadn’t had my hair that long since elementary school and it was a bit annoying. I took one final look at it a couple of days ago and thought it was time to shed some weight. I made an appointment at the London School, in downtown Vancouver, to make the experience all the more rewarding, so that someone could learn on a head that wasn’t so picky in the final design.

I  must admit, it is a bit creepy seeing a chunk of hair so neatly sitting in a ponytail on the table. But the experiences of all involved, or those that will be involved out-weigh any of that. For anyone else reading this post who is interested in doing the same, they can send their own hair in a 8″ ponytail or longer to help make a wig for a child who’s lost their hair during chemotherapy to treat cancer. Take part in the group cut in front of an audience, Cuts for Cancer, at UBC in the spring, or check out the list on their website for organizations that make the wigs and instructions if you’d prefer to go to your favourite stylist instead.