Practice Makes Passable: Resumes and Work Samples #1

For a while now I've been meaning to do a series on the difficult, often painful process of becoming a competent designer. My primary focus as a designer has traditionally been in the realm of architecture and urban design; those are the degrees I earned in school and most of my work since graduation has been in these fields. But I'm also really interested in - ever increasingly interested in, I should say - graphic design, web design, and writing. I've dove (doven? HA!) into these three headlong over the past several months and, while I'm learning a lot, I'm struggling quite a bit more. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon where the more you learn and the better you get, the more you're ashamed of everything you've ever worked on (SEE ALSO). I look forward to the day when I can produce something and be proud of it for more than a couple of weeks, but I'm not very confident that it's going to happen.

Also, I should say that my interest in other design mediums isn't entirely new. During school, I felt the acute need to improve my layout, presentation, and overall graphic sensibilities. Architecture is great, but the best design is nothing if you aren't capable of effectively communicating your ideas. Architecture is often (sometimes unfortunately) a heavily visual medium, and successful design work can depend on one's skill with visual communication.

This will be the first of many posts that will show my personal growth. I've chosen to start with resume design, and discuss how each iteration led to where I am now - hopefully a respectable level of competency. With each iteration, feel free to laugh. But more than anything, feel free to marvel at how far I've come. I'm not saying that I'm great by any means; I'm only saying that practice makes passable and I've worked hard to catch up to some of my peers who, I think, may have had a nature or nurture head start on me.


This resume and the one below were turned in for a professional development class (in a design program at college, if you can believe it), so in all fairness I didn't spend a lot of time or energy working on them. After all, they didn't represent me to any prospective employers; they were just assignments. That being said, they're still wretched.

In case you're wondering, the fonts are Skia and Baskerville. While I find Baskerville somewhat respectable, I have no idea what compelled me to choose Skia, a font that I didn't know existed until I found these old files of mine hanging out in the closet of the basement of my computer.

Never was Microsoft Word so deftly manipulated as when I drafted these tasty morsels of composition. Note the skillful application of italics, bold, and m a n u a l (space bar) k e a r n I n g. Really classic work, if you ask me. I wish I had some record of the response these received at school, but sadly I don't have any grades or criticism.


Just a variation on Resume 1. This one has a "Purpose" section - an expressive outlet that will replace studio in between academic terms? It's so bad. I also like that I called myself an "adept hand draftsman." Pretty much everything about everything that's written on these resumes is terrible. They get better, I promise.

SEE ALSO this excellent series of videos in which Ira Glass discusses his personal struggle towards excellence in storytelling (Clip 3 of 4) and Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule.

Clients from Hell

Great place to kill a couple of hours. I hope some of these are made up; they're just that sad.

Don’t Be Busy All the Time

This is something that I've dealt with since I left my nine-to-five. When you work at home, you're never at home because you're always at work. When my wife comes home, we eat and watch movies and do whatever we do, but we're never much more than ten feet from the desk where I spend the rest of my time working (in our 600 square foot paradise). And something I've found over the last few years is that many things worth doing well take a long time to do. The longer they take, the more time you spend not being finished. Not being finished is often at the heart of my perpetual, semi-frantic busyness, and it haunts me when I should be relaxing or looking at her or sleeping.

I'd never heard of Bobulate until now. Thanks to Joshua Blankenship who's always saying compelling and offensively true things about doing good work, the web, and consciously cultivating a positive work culture.

Bobulate via @Blankenship.

More Excellence from Jason Fried

Since the epic layoff of Spring 2009, I've been on a possibly Quixotic journey into the world of the freelance creative value producer. Early on I found that Jason Fried was at or near the center of a world of creative professionals who are wreaking havoc all over the internet and they make it look good.

They don't buy the get paid for showing up paradigm. Here he rails against modern office culture and talks about how counterproductive it is to work in shared environments where any and everyone has seemingly limitless power to interrupt you. The workplace is for work; let me work.

Sometimes when it gets really late, I like to listen to his words and think about Ayn Rand.

IDP Hours for the Jobless

From NCARB's website, a list of activities that allow unemployed architecture interns to earn IDP credit without having jobs. It's no fun to discover that your professional life depends, not on the quality of your work or education, but on the status of the economy. I'm specifically referring to those unfortunate designers who graduated from architecture school just in time to get a job, move to a new city, and get laid off. Bad economy = sit around until someone will hire you, at which point you can continue on with your march towards licensure.

Saul Bass on Beauty

“The fact of the matter is, I want everything we do, that I do personally, that our office does, to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or whether the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything.”

Saul Bass via 9-bits