In honor of Pride Month in June, we asked our students to participate in our latest design challenge—Proud to be Me: A Self-Portrait 🧑🏽🎨
We cannot express how truly grateful we are to have a community of so many unique individuals, each with their own story to tell. For this design challenge, students were asked to create a self-portrait that shows “why you’re proud to be YOU.”
The self-portrait could tell a story, or highlight a quality that they truly admire about themselves. As designers, we talk often about imposter syndrome, and we can often be unkind to ourselves, even when others have provided reassurance. With this challenge we wanted students to take a moment to flip the narrative and remind themselves why they’re awesome.
Here are the top submissions for this challenge as determined by the Designlab internal team and community voting…
Peter Noah, Eisenberg cohort
“I decided to create a poster promoting the theme (kind of like a PSA), using myself as an example. I played off the idea of collage and color palettes—that there are many facets to our identities, and that this is something we should be proud of. These are images that reflect my identity, past and present. I included three color palettes toward the bottom right to reference my history as a print designer, my future as a digital designer, and my identity as LGBTQ+.”
Monica Kay Schmidt, Fairey cohort
“When I was working on the mood board for my portfolio website for UX Academy, the project took a sudden deep dive. I learned some things about myself after the first proposal to my mentor and decided to ask some of my closest friends and family to look at my mood board and pick keywords that defined me.
My friends and family all looked at my original mood board and said ‘Well, yeah, that’s you at work (I've worked in the fashion industry for the last decade), but this isn't your PERSONALITY, you’re way bolder than this.”
My friends used the following words to describe me: Visual, Succinct, Bold, Intelligent, Eclectic. None of which really relate to the previous mood board I put together.
This really made me take a step back and look at myself. I’ve realized that in the fashion industry you develop a persona that you present day-to-day. In a professional setting, I’m very used to presenting this polished version of myself aesthetically. However, as coworkers would get to know me, they were always shocked by my eclectic/nerdy hobbies (sometimes not in the most accepting way), and if they were invited to my home, they felt a huge disconnect to how I presented myself at work vs. how I lived my life. I feel like I had identified with both in the past, but one always felt like a subconscious secret. I didn’t realize how much I hid my personality at work.
This inspired me to approach my new career path in UX to not be bashful of my honest self. I put together a collection of photos from around my home and of myself and my family that I thought more accurately depicted who I am as a person. This became the baseline for my portfolio website and eventual home page self-portrait.”
Adriana (Adri) Badillo, UX Academy Foundations June ‘21
“Frida Kahlo’s influence on the world was so strong that even decades after her passing, she was a huge inspiration for a little girl with bushy brows. That little girl was me. I had a unibrow, but started waxing it in the 4th grade when I started getting self-conscious about it. Big brows weren’t trendy back then, especially those that connected with each other. This all changed when I began to paint. When I learned about Frida's life and her work, I was fascinated by her confidence and her ability to be unapologetically herself. She painted herself as she was, because she knew she was beautiful regardless of society's beauty standards.
My brows weren’t my only insecurity, I had an overall struggle with self image, but with the encouragement of my high school art teacher, I started painting self-portraits; and with each one, I found something new to love about myself. The art of self-portraiture became near and dear to me; it has helped shape me into the woman I am today.
The self-portrait paintings transitioned into drawings, photographs, and now digital art. This is my first digital self-portrait. It is an ode to Frida, a representation of myself as one of her paintings (Self-Portrait with a Monkey, 1940). My blue face is a nod to my first ever self-portrait in 2012, in which I painted myself with blue skin; and on my shoulder, instead of a monkey, is my cat Frida, who I named after the artist, because she is a feisty little lady with a sweet and cuddly side.
P.S. I no longer wax, pluck or shave my eyebrows, I let them grow out in all of their natural glory, and I love them, just as they are.”
Karl Frazier, Hisui cohort
“I've been on a bit of an artistic journey trying to develop my own style over the last year or so, and I think I've really settled into something I can call my own. I was one of many to be laid off due to the pandemic and during my extended spat of unemployment I've been lucky enough to have a lot of friends who have reached out to commission me for artwork. It really took off when I started developing this style. Every time I posted a picture online it would result in another round of orders. It really helped me stay afloat and I'm very proud of the work I've created. So this is a portrait of me in that same style, based on a picture taken from a friends' bachelor party a couple years ago.”
Julie Grantz, Janoff cohort
“When I was 13 I started tinkering with my mom’s vintage Canon AE-1 SLR camera, and it was vintage even then. When I was 17 I wanted to go to school to study photography, but decided I loved it so much that I wouldn’t ever want it to turn against me with the pressures of a career. I started getting excited about Graphic Design, as I loved the space it made to create, the color, shapes, the emotions, but it felt more applicable than photography, and, honestly, more employable.
So, at 18, I set-out to earn my BFA in Graphic Design and 4 years later I walked away with a design fellowship at Chronicle Books. I was over the moon. Settling into work-life after the conceptual and creative freedom of school proved challenging. I had big ideas, but small job titles. I learned to stay on-track while quietly fostering big ideas behind the scenes. Now, more than 20 years after starting down the path of graphic design, I have found myself in mid-life crisis territory. I just had a birthday that was... challenging, with this omnipresent feeling of, ‘Oh my God, this is how old I am and THIS is what I have to show for it?’
I entered this program [UX Academy] to shift my career. While I feel like Graphic Design is still relevant professionally, how really relevant will it be in another 20 years? When I graduated from school the introduction of the first iPhone was still 3 years out. Now, when surveyed something like 70% of people say that they would give up sex before they’d give up their smartphone. There is so much potential with the technology we have, and that is being developed today, and I personally believe that we’re still just at the tip of the iceberg. So, instead of becoming an old curmudgeon, how can I take my love of design and evolve it?
I just turned 39, and this is what I have to show for it: While I might not have the enthusiasm of my 20 year old self, I have the power, the desire, and the passion to make my life better. I am not too old to stop learning new things. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and what I will learn and do next year, 10 years from now, even 40 years from now.
I’m happy that I didn’t pursue photography as a profession. I'm glad I focused on design because it opened my world up to this mindset that I can always keep learning, and... it took me 25 years just to learn to take a decent photo! This photo represents the crossroads I am going through: the stigma of age versus the dreams I want to create, and achieve. Photographed with my Nikon D70, 50mm lens, and remote, on my dining room floor!”
Kathleen Hansen, Janoff cohort
“My best quality is my resilience, though I’ve experienced a lot of negative self-talk. The negative self-talk can feel enticing, just like bright, vibrant colors. Negative self-talk can make me not want to be who I am. And sometimes I forget who I am. Sometimes I want to take the easy way out. Sometimes I’m a huge ball of anxiety. But the bottom line? When it comes down to it, I’m super freakin’ resilient—it’s so clear in unobstructed capital letters.”
Divyashree Maharajula, Glaser cohort
“This is a literal depiction of my struggles being an introverted person in the Design field. It's done in a comic form which speaks for itself.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about some of the top submissions of this design challenge! You can view all of the submissions for the challenge here.
To learn UX design through an education provider that emphasizes the importance of community through fun events like these design challenges, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program.