My Story So Far

1. Who are you?

I’m Ruthie, a designer and animator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. Likely inspired by my dad’s career as an art director at a newspaper, I spent my adolescence drawing comics, designing websites, and animating Flash cartoons. In 2007 I continued my creative journey in Richmond where I graduated with a BFA in Kinetic imaging and an Art History minor from VCU. My passion for interactive design and user experience became apparent to me three years ago when I joined RVA Game Jams, a group of local game developers who quickly became my closest friends. Since then, I’ve made over a dozen games and spent hundreds of hours studying code and design practices all while designing user interfaces and graphics full time at Nestiny, a homebuyer education startup. With all this experience in varied fields of design, my greatest skill is being adaptable and a quick learner. My knowledge of of web and game development all the way from drawing concept art to writing JavaScript and C# means I’m an informed designer who can confidently execute ideas from concept to production, never afraid to take on something new.

2. What place has influenced you most?

My first view of Richmond was riding down Monument Avenue admiring its iconic statues of Confederate leaders. Beneath their impressive bronze facades, though, are their subjects’ controversial opinions that have shaped this city in so many ways. For better or for worse, Richmond’s culture seems to revolve around debate, particularly when it comes to race and class. The push-pull effect of gentrifying neighborhoods, large municipal art projects, and the city’s cash-strapped public schools beg us to confront each other with empathy and perspective. I’ve found that Richmonders are a people who love to argue (merely mentioning the prospective baseball diamond usually riles them up) and I, for one, love the debate.

3. What led you to the Brandcenter?

Despite having a wealth of skills in design and animation, I haven’t been able to make the leap into experience design because of, well, experience. What led me to apply to the Brandcenter initially was its impressive job placement statistics, but the boot camp-like curriculum quickly got me excited to learn more. Speaking with my friend and current XD student Mason Brown made me realize the Brandcenter is a fantastic way to launch one’s career and gain hands-on experience working with real companies, and it would be a thrill to be part of such a collaborative, tight-knit group of talented people.

4. Can you describe a personal failure?

In the summer of 2014, I impulsively started writing a graphic novel. Told through the eyes of 11-year-old Clara, it detailed her transition into middle school through making new friends and a myriad of preteen experiences like going bra-shopping with her mom. I had sketched about 100 pages before I realized the book didn’t have any semblance of a plot and I had no plans for an ending. Being aware of the sunk cost fallacy, though, I recognized that I needed to scrap the book and do something else with my time. One day I may come back to Clara, but ideally the plot structure would be mapped out ahead of time so the story doesn’t wind up meandering aimlessly.

5. What is XD, and what do people do after graduation?

Though students in all five Brandcenter tracks collaborate to get things done, Experience Design students have the unique power of bringing projects to life. After gathering information on the spaces, platforms, and the types of users they are designing for, XD students build apps, objects, and interfaces of all kinds from concept to production. Their focus is not merely visual design but how the interaction makes people think and feel. Incoming students have a variety of backgrounds in business, creative, and technology fields that lend them a certain flexibility after graduation: many work in UX/UI or broader fields of multimedia design at agencies, software and service companies, and startups.