I help mission-driven companies and creative individuals define brands, tell stories, educate prospects, and inspire users. As a marketer, writer, editor, and designer, I develop and execute compelling narrative strategies to achieve business goals. Learn how.

Modern Gothic design explores and empowers with futuristic noir

Cyberpunk, glitch, mysticism, and dark “freak-forward” vibes combine to create the most dramatic design trend of the year: Modern Gothic.

While all of Adobe Stock’s 2020 design trends have their elements of drama, Modern Gothic is the darkest, edgiest, and most confrontational. This blend of contemporary, futuristic, and retro aesthetics communicates a clear desire for self-expression and empowerment, surfacing from myriad subcultures to the mainstream.

Design rooted in Goth subculture and ancient rites

When we hear the term “gothic,” what often comes to mind is a style centered around finding beauty and fascination in darkness: black fashion, dramatic makeup, dyed black hair, vampires and horror movies, 18th- and 19th century period aesthetics, and an interest in the occult. The contemporary Goth subculture originated in the U.K. in the 1980s as an offshoot of 1970s post-punk, with bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Bauhaus, whose 1979 single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is often described as the birth of the goth rock genre.

Today’s Modern Gothic design trend incorporates this history and builds on it with an emphasis on a few key components to create a multifaceted and highly contemporary new aesthetic.

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Adobe MAX: Representation and Creativity Now

Inclusion, authenticity, and representation — what do these words mean to us as creatives, collaborators, and artistic subjects? How can today’s creatives draw on their personal experiences to produce insightful, commercially successful work while remaining true to themselves and their communities?

In a recent panel discussion at the Social Insiders event at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, we brought a diverse group of creative thought leaders together to share their reactions to these questions. In an honest and unscripted conversation led by Adobe Stock Creative Director Sarah Fix-Casillas, we heard from Emma Chiu, global director of content intelligence for Wunderman Thompson; Natika Soward, content development manager for Adobe Stock Premium; and artists Bethany Mollenkof and Adam G. Perez, who are featured as part of the new exclusive VSCO collection on Adobe Stock.

Adobe Stock
Above: Panel discussion at the Social Insiders event at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles, CA. Image source: Adobe Stock blog.

We found four big takeaways from the discussion.

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SBA’s Kathy McShane on the Confidence Gap and Value of Mentorship

The United States Small Business Administration was established after World War II with the goal of helping small businesses participate and thrive in our economy. Today, the SBA connects business owners with financing and education. Since its inception, the SBA has enabled millions of loans, and countless business counseling, training, and mentorship sessions across many groups and dozens of district and regional offices.

Kathleen McShane is the Assistant Administrator and the proud leader in charge of overseeing the SBA Women’s Business Centers throughout the country. According to the SBA, the WBC mandate is to “provide advice, assistance and support to promote, coordinate, and monitor the efforts of the Federal government to establish, preserve, and strengthen women-owned business.”

Formerly the CEO and Founder of Ladies Launch Club, an organization dedicated to providing mentorship and education for female entrepreneurs, McShane has devoted much of her life and career to promoting and supporting the economic activities and power of American women.

As an SBA leader, she has been well-positioned to continue that work and to comment on the changing landscape for women in business and entrepreneurship today. In a recent phone call, she shared her perspective with on what has and has not changed for women at work, and her hopes for how the SBA can continue to support women in the future.

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Ladies Get Paid Founder Claire Wasserman Helps Women Entrepreneurs Thrive

Meeting and learning from entrepreneurs so I can share their insights and stories is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing a woman I greatly admire.

Claire Wasserman wanted a strong network of professionally ambitious women who she could call on to help with the everyday struggles of climbing the career ladder, negotiating, and generally staying inspired and excelling at work.

When she couldn’t find that network, she decided to create it.

The result of her effort is a vibrant community called Ladies Get Paid, where over 30,000 women from around the world connect, network, and share knowledge through online workshops, live events, and an official conference in New York, called Get Money Get Paid.

Claire Wasserman addresses the crowd at a recent Ladies Get Paid event. Image courtesy of Ladies Get Paid.

In addition to running LGP, she’s a career coach for individuals and teams, a member of the Well + Good Council, and a writer and speaker. She’s moderated and spoken at events at companies like the New York Times, and was recently featured in the Sally Hansen global campaign, Shetopia.

In this conversation, Claire tells us all about her big-picture goals with Ladies Get Paid, her hopes for helping women business leaders find their power, and how entrepreneurs like herself can stave off burnout and truly thrive in their careers. She also opens up about the financial struggles she faced when starting her business, and what she sees as the keys to entrepreneurial success.

Head to the Fundbox blog to read the interview.

3 Insights for Social Pros From the 2018 Social Summit

This fall, Meltwater held the Meltwater Social Summit (formerly the Sysomos Summit) in downtown San Francisco. Lucky for me, this was just a 15-minute walk from my office, so I was able to stop by and catch the morning sessions, and I’m back with a recap for social media folks seeking inspiration beyond the Bay.

For context, Meltwater is a global SaaS company that offers “media intelligence software” for social media and public relations pros. My company recently signed up for the service. We’ve been using it to monitor our media mentions, our competitors, and our top keywords (“small business funding” for instance!). We also use the tool to improve our social listening, quantify the impact and value of our content, and help with PR and influencer research and outreach. It’s early days for us with this platform, but I’ve been impressed so far.

The Meltwater Summit was also worthwhile. Many conferences (especially those for marketing and PR pros) offer too much sponsored nonsense, and too little insight or actionable advice. In contrast, I felt like this was a morning well-spent.

Here are the top insights I took away from my morning at the Social Summit.

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Columbia Startup Demo Night in San Francisco

Last month in San Francisco, the Columbia Venture Community hosted our biggest event of the year: the 4th Annual Startup Demo Night. Attendees heard and saw startup demos from a varied roster of talented founders, and enjoyed an open bar, food, and great networking. This event is a lot of fun every year and in my opinion, they keep getting better. I always meet interesting people and learn something new.

To help attendees get to know the presenting founders beforehand, I created a series of Q&A profiles, highlighting the multidimensional work these teams are doing. Read on to learn about the founders of AptonomyVoga Coffee, Artery, Avoma, and Nano Hydrophobics.

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Meet the Artists of the CODAME 2018 ART+TECH Festival

This year, I had the immense privilege to be part of the whip-smart volunteer team that made the CODAME ART+TECH Festival happen this year. June 4-7, 2018 brought four full days of workshops, performances, talks, screenings and installation art to the Midway in San Francisco.

The 2018 ART+TECH Festival, codenamed #ARTOBOTS, examined the sphere of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence. Through art, discussion, play and performance, CODAME probes these potentials and examines the ways in which robots have infiltrated so many aspects of our daily lives.

As part of this project, I interviewed and wrote about just a few of the incredible artists bringing their work to the festival, all organized by curator Vanessa Chang. The goal of these articles was to promote the festival, while helping attendees get more out of the experience by engaging more deeply with the artworks, the themes, and the presenting artists.

Cairo Graffiti / غرافيتي القاهرة, Limited series of 9 metallic prints in aluminum, VJ Um Amel.

Data Bodies and Tech Activism, with VJ Um Amel

Professor Laila Shereen Sakr, also known as VJ Um Amel, is fascinated with culture. In conversation, she returns often to the subject of how ideas bubble up from the underground and coalesce, how individuals come together to create community online, and how to preserve and document that process.  [Read the article]

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Exploring the Unseen with CODAME artist Norma Jeane

In this installment of my ongoing series of feature articles about artists who will appear at the 2018 CODAME ART+TECH Festival in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to interview and study artist Norma Jeane.

ShyBot, by Norma Jeane
Norma Jeane, ShyBot, part of “Desert X.” Photo credit: Emily Berl for The New York Times. Source.

When considering multimedia artist Norma Jeane, the first impression that strikes is one of mystery and denial. Norma Jeane is the pseudonym of an Italian artist who does not wish to be identified. Where many discussions of an artist’s body of work might begin with personal biography in an attempt to understand the human experience that led to creating the work, that won’t do in the case of the elusive, cerebral, and multi-talented Norma Jeane.

This is entirely by design. Having chosen one of the most famous women in the world as a namesake (Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, who you might know better as Marilyn Monroe), the artist Norma Jeane has built a 25-year-long career on the idea of making that which is typically invisible, visible, and vice versa.

This endeavor — to expose the unnoticed while erasing the expected — has been composed of a few different recurring elements. Multiple paths lead to this end, but the name is a helpful starting point. When I met with Norma Jeane this month via video chat, he explained, “What was really interesting and fascinating to me about Marilyn is not Marilyn but Norma Jeane. The fact that she actually split her life in two, had a terrible beginning, very tough and sad, and when she actually found success, she needed to split her personality to do it. [She was] such a complex person, who ultimately represents the most successful pop icon, which is something so simple. I’m also super interested in what’s normal, in everyday life, everyday objects.”

Read the full article on the CODAME blog, on Medium.

Interactive artist Yagiz Mungan on how VR can help us experience the impossible

As part of my series with artists and speakers to be featured at the 2018 CODAME ART+TECH Festival in San Francisco, I recently interviewed interdisciplinary artist Yagiz Mungan.

Views of Illy, a "semi-intelligent system" by Yagiz Mungan
Views of Illy, by Yagiz Mungan

Artist Yagiz Mungan creates work that blends VR/AR, sound/music, interaction, performance, virtual worlds and gaming. He is especially interested in generative strategies of creating visuals and sound, and ways to use technology to push the boundaries of human perception and emotional response. His work often aims to recontextualize familiar experiences, or addresses uncanny technological encounters in modern life.

Mungan holds an MSc in computer engineering and MFA in interactive arts, and has exhibited his work around the world. For the 2018 CODAME ART + TECH Festival, Mungan will be exhibiting a project called Illy, an AI that communicates via sound without language.

Read the interview on the CODAME blog, on Medium.