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What is your elevator pitch when someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

I’m the founder and owner of Pilgrim. As a graphic designer, I work with clients in the arts, and with those who have an appreciation for design that is a little unusual and very, very custom.

Describe the path that led you to this career.

As a small town Indiana girl I dreamed I’d be a veterinarian (I know), but as I grew older I found myself fascinated by art, painting especially. I spent a few unfortunate years at Loyola University Chicago, lost and unhappy, where I painted constantly, relentlessly, avoiding my actual collegiate studies. My father, in an act of desperation and brilliance, suggested art school and I perked up. I’d never considered a career in art. I didn’t know what that looked like. But after little consideration, and even less planning, I landed in Los Angeles at Otis College of Art and Design where, to sound utterly hyperbolic, my life began. I worked and studied constantly, relentlessly – this time with purpose and direction. I chose a path in what the school called Communication Arts, and I discovered that I was good at something. My parent’s home is filled with my large-scale watercolors, and while painting is something I still do on occasion, design feeds my passion and challenges me every day. My path was meandering and frustrating and long, but even the mistakes – especially the mistakes – inform the work that I do today.

What are the elements of a successful workplace?

Warmth and quiet peacefulness are essential. You’ll never find me plugging away in a crowded cafe, on BART, or in a drafty cement-floored loft space. For more than ten years I’ve worked from home. It’s my ideal space.

What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?

Forget the iPhone, I can’t live without my giant-screened iMac and Kensington trackball (the anti-carpal tunnel device).

What are you reading?

Lots of fiction. Right now: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (which is terrific). Next on my list: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

If you could, what advice would you give your 20-something self?

Talent is just a small fraction of success, hard work is what matters. So work hard and stop being afraid that you’re not good enough.

If you could do anything and know you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

I’d pursue a second career in painting. Ask me this tomorrow and my answer will be different.

At Double Forte’s San Francisco office, the conference rooms are named Rock and Roll, Motown, Hip Hop, Mambo, Jazz and Disco. Which name best describes you and why?

Disco, because I’m always ready to slip into a party dress and sashay away my worries!

What’s in your Netflix queue?

The fifth and final season of Breaking Bad. Nothing else is worth watching, doing, or discussing until I finish that series. (So why are you bothering me anyway?!)

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