Lessons Learned Looking Back
Today marks a full year since I’ve officially joined the Graffito team. It seems like just yesterday I was stepping foot into the office at 144 Lincoln, and yet at the same time it feels like multiple years have passed by already. 2020 was a strange year all-around, but amidst all the twists and turns there’s a few valuable lessons I’ve picked up along the way.
Be flexible and adaptable.
Adaptability is key to thriving in any new situation, and that belief held firmer this year than any other I’ve experienced. This year threw us many curveballs, and going with the flow was more important than ever. I think I can collectively speak for the entire GSP team when I say that we were all tasked to be as flexible as possible over the course of 2020, whether that meant quickly figuring out Zoom, everyone finally getting on board with Slack as an essential quick-communication tool (looking at you, Dave!), or just being mindful that certain workflows and personal schedules have changed for team members caring for children. We embraced challenge after challenge in many ways, but our ability to adapt to new situations kept us nimble and efficient as a team.
There’s really no stupid questions.
Even a year after joining GSP, there’s still moments where I feel totally out of my element. The real estate world (and particularly the leasing side of it) is something entirely out of my wheelhouse, but I’ve learned there’s really no stupid questions and to not be afraid to interject to ask for clarification. Hey, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? It’s also important to remember that not everyone speaks the same jargon, so taking just a brief moment to explain a term and bring the collective group up to speed can go a long way in everyone’s understanding.
Scale and context are important.
I’m used to designing brands and digital experiences where visuals are viewed mostly up-close; think: business cards, websites, presentations, etc. Now that I’m tackling more experiential, 3D design projects that deal with a larger physical scale and importance of placement, I’ve learned that scale and context are really essential elements for consideration. As I find myself working on signage projects more and more, I’m thinking in different terms of visibility and how people experience wayfinding in multiple ways; for example, a pedestrian walking down a sidewalk will have a much different interaction with a storefront sign than someone driving by in a car. It’s a unique design challenge, but I’ve learned through trial and error that being as accurate as possible when presenting concepts can have a big impact.
See the forest for the trees, but plant it one seed at a time.
It’s important to not lose sight of the larger end goal, but also to trust the process and take small, meaningful steps. I’m fortunate to have an awesome creative director, Drew, who does a great job of keeping projects moving along towards the finish line. On large scale design systems – whether that means designing a brand with multiple components from scratch, or developing a complete set of a wayfinding signage for a property – it can sometimes feel overwhelming when there’s so many moving pieces, but together we find ways to break tasks down and take it one step at a time. Working in smaller, more scheduled blocks allows us to work towards the bigger end picture and quite frankly keeps me sane and feeling accomplished each step along the way.
Wear sensible shoes.
Between construction site tours, running around on photoshoots, and our 10+ mile walk around Boston on our annual food crawl, I learned the importance of wearing sensible shoes. Sometimes that might mean slippers for days spent working from the comfort of my couch, or my trusty boots for sloshing through mud during signage meetings at The Speedway. Either way, appropriate shoe choice is essential!