12 Reasons Why I'm Leaving NYC

  1. Cocktail bars and speakeasies are too popular in NYC, I find the dim lighting and romantic atmosphere tiring for my fluorescent-trained eyes.
  2. Due to a thriving startup culture and overall urge for companies to have smart design, designers are in high demand. We are making more money today than ever before. My whole life I assumed I would become a struggling designer and entrepreneur. New York is making it difficult for me to struggle and I’m actually becoming successful. Gross.
  3. It takes me 1hr 10min to commute to the nearest Hot Topic store.
  4. Friends and family won’t stop visiting me, forcing me to show them around the coolest spots in NYC. I’m tired of sharing my favorite places with the people I love.
  5. It’s difficult and expensive to keep a car in NYC, forcing me to walk everywhere. I don’t like getting a healthy dose of exercise daily.
  6. With over 35,000 restaurants and 2,600 bars. I’m tired of having so many choices.
  7. The creative community in New York is too generous, kind, and loving. They keep sharing their clients with me, giving me compliments and hugging me. I need to be in an environment where people are selfish and don’t touch me as often.
  8. There are over 8 million completely unique individuals here. The average person farts 14 times p/day. That makes 112,000,000 farts in NYC daily.
  9. There are too many day trips, weekend trips and getaways “conveniently” located near NYC. I need to live in a city where it’s physically, and mentally, harder to leave.
  10. My neighborhood in Brooklyn has too much “community” with its summer block parties, farmer’s markets and community gardens. My neighbors keep calling me by name. I’d prefer to be somewhere with 0 human interaction, perhaps a feral cat colony.
  11. The subways are too crowded. They’re full of people who voluntarily choose a more environmentally conscious way to travel and sometimes I have to touch those people in a crowded car.
  12. A regular iced coffee down the street is $4.25.

New York, I love you. I'm not leaving you.

An Open Letter to the Internet and All the Friends I've Made

Throughout my life, I’ve dealt with the same amount of insecurities as the next person. As a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to be a little boy. When I finally started shopping in the boy’s section and cut my hair in the third grade, I wasn’t prepared for the attention. As a 9-year-old who didn’t want to be the center of attention, it wasn’t easy to be made fun, teased, or screamed at and pushed out of the girl’s bathroom. I very quickly went back to being a girl.

Me (pictured right) with my family c.1997

Me (pictured right) with my family c.1997

I was never uncomfortable with my body or the way that I looked. I just knew that I wasn’t capable of being any girl that I had seen before. On TV, I saw badass boys living a life of curiosity and adventure while the girls wore cute sunflower bucket hats and shopped at the mall (this was the 90s). Why couldn’t I have a badass life of curiosity and adventure?

Years passed, and I learned to become the version of myself who got the least amount of attention. I shopped at the same stores with the popular girls and followed along to whatever my pushy friends wanted me to do. When I was 13, I decided to tell my good friend that I wasn't completely myself with her. I remember it so vividly, we were sitting in her bedroom, and I said “I think I want to be different from everyone else. I want to start dressing differently and look differently. I’m tired of being the same as everyone else.” I remember the look of confusion on her face as she asked, “Why would you want to do that?”. She stopped talking to me a week or so later when I started making a change.

Who am I? Has been a confusing question for me since that day in 2001 when I decided to be “different”. When I started trying to figure out who I was, I began searching for the other people who were different. And, just like that (queue Jesus rays): the internet. The internet had all kinds of people. People who were just as confused as I was and others who were like no one I had seen before. My world began to open as I gained access to my first-ever real friends: my internet friends.

These internet friends helped me to choose which college I attended. They were there when I had a question about units of measurement. When it came time to choose a career and begin a life as a freelancer, they got me my first gigs. They provided endless tips, facts, and areas of guidance when I didn’t know where else to turn. Throughout all of my side projects, many failed blogs, and small victories, they have (virtually) stood by my side. Most importantly, they provided a place for me to live a life of curiosity and adventure, just as I always wanted.

It was my internet friends who helped shape the mold of what being a woman means today. Through projects such as Badass Lady Creatives, Got A Girl Crush and eventually huge media outlets like Broadly, I finally feel as though I’m amongst a world of fellow women who refuse to fit a mold. Let’s not forget all of the incredible men on the other side who have supported me through every step of the way. There have been so many influential men in my life who have allowed me to feel valid, extraordinary and understand the importance of being a woman.

I’ve come to realize that we can’t compare ourselves to anyone else. We are all very different from everyone, and that’s what makes us unique. We can use this as an ability to help shape the public opinion of women, men, and every area in between. Being born a girl isn’t the curse that I once thought it was, and I can’t thank my best friends, my internet friends, enough for making me see that. I owe you everything and hope I can return the favor.

I'm Not a Robot! I'm a Human Female Who Loves To Dance.

Throughout my adult life I’ve always been extremely self aware, the personality trait that (to me) makes a person great. With being self aware comes the horrible side effect of being in constant fear of judgment. I am so self aware that I will think before I say or do anything as to not annoy or bother anyone. I have perfectly tailored myself to be the optimal human being. I make sure to listen 60% and talk the remaining 40% of the time. I frequently compliment people and mirror their personalities. I am just the right amount of funny mixed with loving compassion. My personality is a huge robotic calculation and it’s gotten out of control.

A few months back I decided to ditch the calculation and find out who I actually am. What is my real personality? Am I actually a horribly annoying person or am I a robot after all? The first step was to try something that I had always been afraid to do: dance. Dancing is the thing that has always made me feel most exposed and open to judgment. Why not start dancing and find out a) if I can actually dance b) if people actually judge me c) what it feels like to be exposed.

So I started dancing. First at parties with friends who already like me, then at clubs with friends and strangers. I decided it was extremely important that I let go 100% and see what happens. So I did, and something amazing happened. People judged me hard. I could see them staring at me and had to push through the judgment and continue to completely let go. After a few songs, I was in a groove and I could tell that everyone else was loosening up around me. A few people joined me at my level and we danced for a while. After my first night of dancing I started to receive comments. Mostly bewilderment that I was capable of moving my body in such a way, but also encouragement from people who admired my ability to not care what others thought. A few friends even told me that I’ve inspired them to also start dancing and letting go themselves. Score!

I’ve been dancing, a lot, for a few months now and it’s completely changed everything. Through the process of being completely open to judgment (and not caring!) it’s allowed me to open myself up to judgment in all areas of my life. It’s helped me to realize something exceptional about myself and my personality. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m a nice, caring person who isn’t causing anyone mental or physical harm, I can and should do whatever I want. I actually am funny and compassionate. I love listening most of the time and feel open to talking sometimes. I’m not a robot. I’m a weird human female who loves to dance and no longer cares when people judge me. Because I rule! I encourage you all to do the same. Your ability to loosen up and let go will do wonders for your self confidence and will inspire others around you to be themselves. Everyone wins!

The last step of my dancing experiment is to allow a group of internet strangers to see me dance with no one else at my side. The ultimate test of judgment. Without further adieu, enjoy this video of ol’ Meg dancing to Yacht’s Waste of Time and having a ridiculously good time.

My Non-Award-Winning Design Process

The recent incredible Draplin logo design process video from Lynda.com really got me thinking about sharing my design process (or lack thereof) with y’all. I think it’s really important that other designers share their processes as we all have different styles. Some may resonate with others. Aaron’s process was exceptionally inspiring and completely different from mine. so, here goes.

Design things in the order in which you are motivated.

Starting the design process can be incredibly intimidating. A lot of people struggle to know how to start a design. You hear from a lot of people who are sticklers about beginning the process with sketching, wireframing, conducting user interviews, looking at inspiration, going out in nature, joining a cult, and so on. I’ve simply had a hard time saying that one, and only one, method is where I start my process. It works best for me to wait patiently for a surge of motivation to come about a particular piece of the design process. I might be out drinking at 12am when I get a random surge of color inspiration. I’ll gasp and run over to my computer to quickly put together color palettes for a project that I haven’t yet started. Hours later, the sun comes up and I’ve finished an initial concept that I love. The key: motivation. I was so excited that I spent hours, which felt like minutes, working on the design.

If I find myself working on a design that I’m feeling bummed about. I’ll stop, do something else, and wait patiently for the motivation and excitement to come back. It always does, just not at the most opportune times. However, the final product is always worth it.

Oftentimes this means you’ll have to design out of the standard “by-the-book” order. Whatever, man! If you’re excited about designing a Twitter avatar before you’ve even started on the logo. Do it! Maybe this is where the mobile first technique came from. A guy who got excited about designing for mobile while taking a shower. “But I haven’t started on the desktop site yet!” he exclaims while lathering. “Screw it! I’m designing mobile first.”

I’m just saying, don’t worry about a concrete process. Let the motivation and excitement of inspiration guide you through the design work. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Ghostly Ferns: A Freelancing Family

The  Ghostly Ferns  team

The Ghostly Ferns team

I think we’re on to something here at Ghostly Ferns. A while back I published a post on the No Employee Design Team. Although it was not an original idea, the concept was positively received. Throughout the past year since I wrote that post Jen, Laura, Mike, Brad and I began thinking about how that method both was and was not working for us. The biggest issue was my role as “business owner”. I’ve always been the legal owner of Ghostly Ferns but always thought of myself as a designer first. As the owner of this No Employee Design Team, I was forced to do more client management, calendar management, and managing team member workloads. A lot of management. Gross. I was left with no time to design and it was killing me. We (Laura, Mike, Brad, Jen and myself) decided to take a step back and reevaluate the strengths of our no-employee model and work to improve it.

The solution? We decided to stop trying to be a design studio, or a company, by traditional means. At its core (legally), Ghostly Ferns has always been a group of freelancers. Each of us comes into the studio at different times. Some of us work on the weekends, some of us don’t. Our schedules are different. Our workloads are different. We each love our flexible freelancer lifestyles. So why push ourselves to become a standard NYC 10am-6pm design company?

Everyone is envious of freelancers. We do what we want. More importantly, no one decides our own destiny but us. It’s badass. The scary part of freelancing is the fear of an empty schedule and sheer loneliness. At Ghostly Ferns, we’ve solved that problem. Freelancing is so much better with friends. 

We’re a group of freelancers who each offer different services. Usually we work for clients individually, but we often pair together on projects when we can. We work in the same room together and are constantly providing feedback and support to one another. We have company meetings and make awesome side project-y things in our spare time. We act as a support group and sounding board for one another on a daily basis. We’re here for each other and we are best friends. I love my fellow Ghostly Ferns and would do anything for them. In fact, I have done a lot of crazy things for them. And I know they would do the same for me. We care for each other and inspire each other. It rules.

Because we each have our own expertise, our collective portfolio is bangin’. We’re all basically scratching each other’s backs with our individual work. My web, product, UI work makes Jen’s hand lettering transition into digital mean than it otherwise would. Laura’s character illustrations make my web products more personable and fun. Long story short: we make each other’s work stronger.

Other design studios love us because they can grab one or two of us as an extra set of hands when their workload is too hefty. Agencies love us because we’re individual contractors. It’s a win, win, win, win situation for all.