When I was first asked what I am thankful for, I instantly thought of my family and my husband. There are also so many other things I am thankful for, that it was difficult for me to narrow down. I began thinking of my interests. Something that I do almost every day is some form of graphic design. Whether that be designing social media posts, newsletters, posters, small animations, illustrations, etc. Designing is something I love to do and helps define who I am.
While I was a college student working toward my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, I loved learning about the history of graphic design. It was so interesting being able to see how much design has evolved. Design can even be found over a million years ago in caveman carvings. If you are interested in reading a brief history on graphic design, I would suggest this article: https://99designs.com/blog/design-history-movements/history-graphic-design/
There is such a rich and ever changing history of graphic design, and it has made me thankful to live in the 21st century with advanced computers, affordable design programs, fast reliable internet. The design world has expanded so much in my twenty-four years of life. Some things went from being non-existent, to a daily part of almost every designer’s life.
While design has constantly changed throughout history, I truly do believe it has changed more in the last twenty-five years than in the last few centuries
It used to take designers days, weeks, or even months to create something from start to finish. Now, it can take as little as hours or minutes. While I love where design has come from, I am truly grateful to be alive in a time where design has grown in leaps and bounds! It’s an exciting time to be a designer or in the creative field!
I’m always thankful for the experiences life has given me. Whether it’s good or bad I know everything happens for a reason. Though it may sound odd, I might be more thankful for the bad experiences. While I enjoy the good experiences and they make me feel better about myself, the bad ones are where I feel like I can grow. A bad experience is like life critiquing your work. It usually makes you feel unsure of yourself and you kind of wish you never did it. Ultimately these are the experiences I look back on and think about most. Sure they might be negative at first, but positives tend to come out of them. They allow growth and give you the knowledge to know how to live a better life. The good experiences to me are there to reward you for the sacrifices you had to make or for correcting a mistake. These experiences work together and I’ve found that acknowledging these things can help build a better life.
I’m thankful to be able to call many places my home. My parents have also provided me with a place to call home. With a roof over my head and a place for me to feel safe, my parents do all they can to give me that stable home. But what about the homes that aren’t so stable? My friends have always opened their doors to me. In high school allowing me to stay the night as we played board games all the way through college where we catch up over breakfast.
I say these homes aren’t stable because like myself, my friends have also started to explore their own lives. It seems as though we are always moving around, which makes me wonder how these places can ever be considered a home? Until I realized my home is where I feel safe and where I can make memories. It might change from year to year, but I know the door is always open. From my parents who I know exactly where they are to my friends who I’m always asking for an address. Both types of homes are important and I’m thankful for them. Because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
As a kid, I always looked toward more talented people for inspiration or guidance. Whether I was learning the next trick I would take on with my skateboard or how to create a certain style in the videos I was creating. I was always sure there was someone that I could learn from. I was always looking for mentors with skills that would help accelerate my abilities in anything I did.
By now I had kind of given up on my grades
This mentality was carried through college as I leaned on my then-girlfriend, turned fiance, now amazing wife, as I struggled through classes. She was my mentor that helped take my plummeting GPA from a measly .92 to around 2.9 just in time for graduation. I had aspirations that I didn’t feel would be dependant on my GPA and by now I had kind of given up on my grades. I really just needed to get my diploma. Her support none the less meant the world to me and has continued into everything we have accomplished together.
The first professional mentor I had was Aaron Smock. Whether he knew it or not, his creative talents inspired me ever time I came into the office. I dissected the things I wanted to learn. I’d pull him from his work to show me things I could not figure out on my own. His mentorship combined with my ability to learn software quickly lead me down the path of motion graphics. A muscle that to this day, even as CEO, you will find me flexing from time to time.
The beginning of my business career
When it came to business, I had exactly zero formal training or education in the practice. I knew the basics of what Google could teach me. That wasn’t going to cut it though if I wanted to take Pixel Labs to the level of creative success I had imagined. This is when I met Dan Beenken at the UNI Small Business Incubator. He challenged every idea I had, ever expense I thought I needed, and pushed me towards building Pixel Labs properly. He introduced me to some of the most important mentors I would have as I started to grow Pixel Labs. Laurie Watje, Patrick Luensmann, Katherine Cota, Trace Steffen, Derek & Jessica Balsley and countless other people who had been doing it well before me.
I am thankful for each and every one of the mentors I have had throughout the years. 🙏
I’m thankful for each of their talents, guidance, and patience throughout my numerous calls, emails and texts. Without you, I would not have the business skills I have today. I can not stress enough, no matter how good you think you are, put your ego to the side and find people you can learn from. This sort of humility will lead to a growth you never thought possible.
When I sit down and think about the items I am thankful for one of those items is the ability to see the world, both for my job and with my little family. When I was a kid we used to travel at times and I didn’t realize how amazing that was to have the option. Not everyone that I knew growing up was able to see new places. I went to Disney as a kid, and I got to go on a 2 week-long trip down to Arizona & back. When I was in High School, I got to enjoy trips to Canada & Mexico. I always got homesick if I was gone too long, but it was fun seeing so much of North America.
I didn’t travel a lot in college because when I was in school the Study Abroad programs were not as big as they are now. Let’s be honest, I wasn’t traveling somewhere new all by myself. When I was in college and newly married, Zach and I did a lot of trips to the Mall of America and a few trips to Chicago. I know they aren’t very far, but it was nice to just get away from Cedar Falls a bit.
When Zach started Pixel Labs, I didn’t realize he would be traveling as much as he would be. Honestly, I was pretty upset about it especially since I was home with our two small children. Then in December of 2015, I finally got to go on my first trip with Zach for Pixel Labs. And it was to a brand new city for me, New York City! We decided to add a couple of days so that we could enjoy the sights as well as get our work done. I was hooked on traveling. I loved to see new places, but still, get to come home to Iowa with my family!
Since that trip to New York, I have gotten to go to Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, Omaha, Minneapolis, & Denver! Since adding our sweet baby Jaxson, I haven’t had a chance to go on a trip in a while. But I can’t wait to go somewhere next year!
Another thing I love about traveling is when we can take the kids to new places. This summer, we took our first summer vacation as a family of 5 to St. Louis, MO. We did so many new things! We saw the Arch, went to City Museum, went to the Zoo and ate some amazing food. You can tell by the kids’ faces that it was a fun adventure. I can’t wait to do it more often. They have been making their list of places to see and waiting for us to take them on an airplane. Zach and I have always talked about how we love living in Iowa and still being able to see the world! And we hope that we can share that love with our babies.
So today, I am thankful for having a job that takes me new places and also gives me the ability to take time off to travel with my family!