Where are you both from? Where are you based?
Katherine: I grew up in Elllicott City, MD, and I’m currently based in Washington, DC!
Nicole: I am from Sykesville, MD and currently based in Baltimore, MD!
What do you do for a living?
Katherine: In December 2022, I started working as a Product Designer for an early-stage startup! I’m currently operating as our team’s solo founding designer (which I absolutely love). Of course, many late nights are involved, but I’m extremely grateful for the flexibility, growth potential, and creative freedom I have right now.
Nicole: As of Feb. 8 I will be running my creative agency, Sun & Hon Creative!! I’ll be offering graphic design, UX/UI, and illustration services, and I’m so excited to make this jump into full-time freelancing!
Where did you both meet?
Katherine: Nicole and I connected on LinkedIn after graduating from Memorisely’s UX/UI bootcamp in November 2022!
Nicole: We met on LinkedIn! Katherine posted a gorgeous case study from her UX/UI bootcamp with Memorisely, and I commented on it sharing my excitement about it. Katherine reached out, and at first, we just started talking about our bootcamp experience (I took the same one but in another class) and our goals as designers. It wasn’t until a few days later that we started to talk about collaborating on a creative project together! (Fun fact: we found out that we also grew up maybe 15-20 minutes from each other, small world!)
Art kept me balanced and whole during a tough time in my life.
Is doodling or vectoring something that you did before?
Katherine: My family has always valued art, especially performing arts. I was learning ballet and how to play the piano at a very young age. Over time, I continued to branch out in music - I went on to learn the cello, clarinet, and saxophone. It wasn’t until college that I explored and expressed myself more through physical and digital art. I would stay up late doodling, painting with watercolors, pressing flowers, and experimenting with other physical mediums (such as wood and resin). Art kept me balanced and whole during a tough time in my life. When I graduated from college, I fell in love with Procreate and digital creation. Although I still love to create with my hands, I am especially drawn toward digital mediums now!
Nicole: I have been doodling, and illustrating since I could hold a pencil. My mom loved to paint, and we would draw together using as many art books as I could find. I fell in love with comics as a kid and was (and still am) obsessed with Disney animated films, which gave me a ton of inspiration. I love drawing people, but I’m working on starting drawing more animals (primarily dogs) and everyday objects!
Where did the idea of creating banners for LinkedIn come from?
Katherine: The way our collaboration started is funny because Nicole and I didn’t decide to collaborate on this series until December 2, 2022. My idea for the series was to release new banner designs every Friday of December, and December 2 was my first release day. That morning, I reached out to Nicole, asking for her blessing to post my designs because they were inspired by the LinkedIn banner she had at the time. Nicole had no problem with me sharing my designs, and to my surprise, she expressed interest in collaborating with me! I was excited by this because Nicole is a highly talented creator. So, I posted my first banner designs on LinkedIn and Nicole quickly threw together three colorways of her own. And poof - just like, we announced we were collaborating on this new series the day we first discussed it! It was pretty awesome.
Nicole: The idea came from Katherine after seeing my doodle banner. She was, for sure, the brains behind this operation!
What was your creative process for building the ten different banners?
Katherine: We started by dropping inspiration in a shared Figma file! We met a few days before our next release date every week to decide on a theme. After agreeing on a theme, Nicole and I would spend time creating our banner designs separately. This was beneficial because it allowed us to create twice as many banners: 2 variations on five themes for ten banner designs. Since this was our first project, I wanted to honor and prioritize creative autonomy. Nicole is a much more experienced illustrator and creator than I am. So, working separately allowed Nicole to use her favorite tools and lean into her existing creative processes, allowing me to explore and learn independently.
Nicole: We started by trying to pick a general theme and sharing some inspirational photos. Once we picked a theme, we worked separately to create two design options (one from each of us). My process involved doing a bit more mood board creation based on the exact subject matter that I was drawing, creating a TON of sketches, and then I would work in illustrator to create the final product. We made sure to work in vector so that we could place them into Figma and allow the community to edit their colors if they so wished!
How did you pick the colors?
Katherine: Pure experimentation! I didn’t have a precise vision for how my banner designs would fit together as a collection; I just wanted to create a variety of colorways that might appeal to a broader audience. In weeks 1 and 4, the colorways I created were fairly monochromatic, whereas, in weeks 2, 3, and 5, I deliberately used contrasting hues and brightness to help bring more life to my designs.
Nicole: I wanted to use bright color palettes. I wanted to use similar color palettes throughout all of the banners I made, but I wanted them to be bright, fun, and full of personality. Using limited color palettes allowed me to do this with ease!
How did you create the illustrations?
Katherine: One of my primary goals for this series was to practice creating from scratch in Figma. In weeks 1 through 4, I worked 100% in Figma to create shapes and illustrations, determine the layout, and play around with colors. This was something that I had never done before. It was a bit time-consuming but a fun exercise, nevertheless, and it helped me get much more comfortable with Figma! It was only during the 5th week of the series that I ventured outside of Figma, back to a medium that I was much more comfortable using for illustration. I created 20 rudimentary illustrations in Procreate, then translated those to vectors using a free online converter. Once those files were ready, I played around with sizing and spacing in Figma!
Nicole: I worked entirely digitally for these, drawing sketches in Procreate on my ipad, then translating those to vectors using Adobe Illustrator, and finally using Figma to design the social posts and prepare files for the Figma community.
What was the main inspiration?
Katherine: We started this series together quickly and unexpectedly, which is something I love about working with Nicole. Even though I had an idea for what this series would look like, collaborating with Nicole enriched the experience tenfold. This series helped me build confidence in sharing my work online. Since we published the file, we’ve had over 300 people click to get a copy, and I’ve counted 6 people in my network who have used banners I created! I never expected a response like this, but seeing this positive response from others has inspired me to keep creating and putting myself out there.
Nicole: The inspiration varied for sure week to week, but at the end of the day, we wanted to draw things that made us feel joy. We did this to get us in a creative mindset and to do something that made us feel encouraged and inspired, so we made sure to pick things that made us happy and excited!
How did the banners end up in the Figma community?
Katherine: My UX/UI bootcamp instructor was Lilibeth (Lili) Bustos Linares, the CEO & Founder of SoulDoodles! Lili left a comment on my first LinkedIn post about this series and suggested publishing the banners in Figma Community to gain more exposure. Thank you, Lili!
Nicole: We posted our first banner designs on LinkedIn and got a positive response! We saw a message from you, Lili on Katherine’s post suggesting we create a Figma Community file. Katherine relayed the suggestion, and then she kindly set it up!
You both are UX designers; how does the banner connect with that?
Katherine: Before starting my career change journey, I had never posted on LinkedIn! When I left my former job to learn UX full-time, I started spending much more time on LinkedIn. I was looking to make new connections, learn from industry leaders, and attend events that would help me better understand the industry's current state. As I started posting and being more active on LinkedIn, I saw a surge in the number of people viewing my profile and looking to connect. When I came up with the idea for this series, I didn’t have any personal branding. I had an old photo of myself and a banner I found online about four years ago. Developing a personal brand is definitely on my to-do list, but it hasn’t been my top priority while learning UX. At a certain point, I realized my profile needed a makeover, and I was using my lack of personal branding as an excuse for not making a better first impression on LinkedIn. Since there are relatively limited banner options on LinkedIn, I saw this series as a way to potentially meet a need within the UX and larger creative community. Particularly for students and career changers who need to give their profile a makeover but aren’t quite prepared to “brand” themselves.
Nicole: A massive part of being a designer is networking and connecting with your audience. Aside from using this to familiarize ourselves with Figma better, we took it as an opportunity to expand our networks and start a conversation with fellow designers!
What was the best part of dedicating time to creating the banners?
Katherine: The best part about creating these banners was getting back into a routine of expressing myself through art. Doodling, painting with watercolors, and pressing flowers used to be what I looked forward to most in my day. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken time to create just for creating, and wow, I missed it.
Nicole: The best part for me was seeing the banners used by fellow creatives and connections. Knowing that someone loves the work you made enough to use is a great feeling!
What was the best advice someone ever told you?
Katherine: “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” - Ernest Hemingway. My friend shared this quote with me a few weeks ago, and it’s been stuck in my head. It can be so comforting to attempt something for the first time without any expectations for yourself. Many of us (myself included) are guilty of refraining from trying something new or putting ourselves out there because we fear failure, imperfection, and/or negative public opinion. You’ll never know unless you try, and if your first attempt is not good enough, you can (almost always) try again or work toward improvement. During a particularly difficult time in my life, I heard someone say that you should stop worrying about how bad something could be, and start asking yourself: “How good can it get?” That has stayed with me for years.
Nicole: “Just f***ing do it!” my fantastic friend Jamie Noguchi believes that if you want to do something, then the only thing holding you back is you not just getting up and doing it.
How can other people find your work and, most importantly, get those incredible banners?
Katherine: You can access our free LinkedIn banner series (10 different designs, 30 pre-made colorways) in the Figma Community But, we’re not done yet! Nicole and I have decided to continue our creative collaboration by releasing more free templates in Figma and FigJam this year. Every 3rd Wednesday of the month, we’re dropping a new template to help make virtual meetings, workshops, and events more fun. Our first template of the year is already out! In January, we made customizable intro cards with 42 color & shape combinations and 15 different fields. Post your intro card on LinkedIn (we’d love to be tagged), or use one of the ten pre-made grids for your next virtual event! Get a copy of the file here. To stay up to date on anything I do in the future, connect with me on LinkedIn!