Life Lately: Going Freelance & Why I Decided to Do It

Some of you might have already figured it out based on my not-so-discrete #freelance hashtags on instagram, but, surprise! After months of consideration, I left my full-time job at the end of December to pursue a freelance career full-time. 

Why?

TLDR version: Millennial woes + why not?

It was not a decision I came to easily. If you know anything about me, it's that I'm very indecisive. I like to consider all the options, opinions, and outcomes — I like to be sure. 

For months I was unhappy at work, but I told myself that this was just my problem, something I could work on. The startup mentality of "do more with less" jived too well with my work ethic, and I volunteered myself for responsibilities because, who else was going to do it? I, like everyone else on my team, had too much on my plate, but I saw it as a sign of "growth," an "opportunity for learning." I chose to continue to accept the things about my work environment I knew in my gut were toxic for me because I was too scared to make any kind of decision about it and I didn't want to let my team down.

Of course, I considered applying to other jobs during this time. I scoured job boards and made spreadsheets, but the prospect of another job did not excite me at all. Over the last couple of years, I had been lucky enough pick up freelance projects with clients I love who filled me with a sense of "Yes! You were meant to do this!" And as I put off applying to jobs, I kept coming back to to the idea of freelancing full-time and establishing a design practice of my own. One of my close friends told me something along the lines of, "You give your all to work, why not work for yourself?" But it all seemed like just a dream. Maybe even the dream, the one I would pursue when I was "ready." I didn't think I was ready.

Despite all this and the full support of my family and friends to leave my job, I let my insecurities, fears, and the words of others who told me that it was "not the right time" or that it would "hurt my career" influence me longer than I should have, and so I stayed. 

Then, in October, I went home.

I spent a week in Korea with my mom and dad, and of course, going home always gives you that perspective you need. My parents reminded me that all my life, I've done what I was supposed to do. I was always at the top of my class, graduated from a top college, always had internships and jobs lined up, had money in my savings. Your Korean daughter dream come true. But, to paraphrase my dad, I had never taken a break, never did anything for me, and that this was good of a time as any. I had nothing to lose, they reminded me. And so it became clear. Why the hell not? 

So, now what?

2.5 months into the freelance life, I'm just starting to find my rhythm. I still have yet to re-do my portfolio, update my resume and Linkedin, and make my business cards (oops). But I've been lucky enough to have enough clients — including True&Co. — who have made the transition feel real and possible, and I'm looking to find new clients starting in April. 

While freelancing is the farthest thing from a break (hah!), I find every day much more meaningful. I'm living with more intention, choosing how and with whom I decide to spend my time. There's exciting projects and collaborations on the horizon that I know require hard work, but I'm ready.  

I promised myself 2016 would be the year I would take care of me. So hold me accountable. Maybe I'll crash and burn, but I know you'll be there to help me put out the fire. 

Love,
Do-Hee

"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?"

I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for Book Club, and of all the passages I highlighted in this honest memoir, I find myself coming back to this question: 

"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?"

A question so simple yet challenging. And before you read any further, I'll let you know that I have no coherent thoughts or answers in this blog post, just a selfish urge to get thoughts down in writing in hopes that I'll be able focus on work thereafter. 

The thing is, to "go on living" is something I've always taken for granted. Not having to confront terminal illness or severe depression will have that kind of effect on you. This book, however, makes me re-contextualize "living" as a choice in that, freak accidents and acts of God aside, most of us choose to "go on living" day after day, I guess, by not killing ourselves. But why? Why do each of us decide to live? 

I acknowledge most of us continue to live likely out of habit, a product of evolution that we have engrained in us as a species. And perhaps, expecting any sort of meaningfulness in life is wistful post-modern thinking. Others might say living is meaningful because we're made in God's image - or something of that sort - that makes living sacred, period.

But tonight, I think you and I have the capacity to evaluate what makes life meaningful enough for each of us to go on living. I personally want to tackle that question for myself. Why? Honestly? Because the question's never even crossed my mind before. 

I'm not asking myself, "What's my purpose in life?" but rather, "What do I find in my life meaningful enough to me to go on living?" It's a less daunting question, but one I don't find any easier to answer. Where do I begin? Where do I end? It's an illuminating exercise in self-evaluation, to stop and think about what you actually value and find to be meaningful enough at your core.

What if all of us were asked to reflect on what was important to us, and shared what we each thought makes life meaningful enough. I wonder if and how that would shape our interactions with one another.

As my friend, and fellow Book Club member Jonathan, poignantly remarked, "I think we are going to learn a lot about each other based on our thoughts of this book." 

I'm really looking forward to this Book Club meeting.

Wedding Wednesday No. 1: Let the Planning Begin!

This is the first post of an ongoing Journal series about my thoughts and learnings around planning our wedding. Check back every week for updates! 

You know those girls who start planning their weddings from the age of 12?* I was not one of those girls. Don't get me wrong, I've thought plenty about getting married, but the wedding itself? Nope. I'm the queen of secret Pinterest boards and I didn't even have a secret Wedding Board until I got engaged (mostly as a matter of some weird principle). That's a big deal, folks.

Having said that, only hours after Josh proposed and I said, "Of course!" I created said pinterest board and started planning the one thing my brain found most exciting about a wedding: the stationery

I quickly realized we needed a venue and date before I could design the stationery (damn). So, a crazy spreadsheet and 80+ venues later, I'm relieved to say we've signed a venue contract and locked down a date. But more on that in the coming weeks.

In the midst of all this, I've been pinning like a mad-woman, trying to figure out what I want from our wedding in terms of look and feel. (I say "I" without shame). And it's actually been a little bit unexpected, for me at least, what I find myself envisioning for our day. 

Josh claims the wedding itself is not a big deal to him, but I think we're both very visual people with strong, intimate relationships, and it's important to me that our wedding reflects us as a couple both visually and experientially. You (theoretically) only get married once, right!? 

Brooklyn Wedding Moodboard

Anyways, enough writing! In typical designer fashion, I want to share an initial mood board pulled from some of my favorite images on my Wedding Board for anyone who might be interested. Believe it or not, our "wedding colors" will not be Rose Quartz and Serenity. 

Until next time.
xo,
d. 

*According to American movies, such people exist. 

100 Days of Fonts

100 Days of Fonts - Do-Hee Kim

A few weeks ago, I completed the journey that was 100 Days of Fonts on which every single day for a period of time spanning over 3 months, I designed and coded a unique typographic design using Google Fonts and good ol' CSS. The project was my take on the 100 Day Project originally conceived by Michael Beirut for the Yale MFA program, recently popularized by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. 

It's been challenging for me to sum up a reflection on this experience, which is why I've put off trying to write something coherent, but it's time to take advantage of this vacation I'm currently on and give it a go in the form of a faux Q&A. 

 

"Why did you decide to do this?" 

I had been thirsty for a side project. Working as an in-house creative can feel... stifling at times, so I was looking for an opportunity to try something new. I thrive within rules and constraints, so I thought the 100 Days Project was the right combination of freedom and restrictions to motivate me.

As to why I chose specifically to work with Google Fonts - Google has some beautiful free web fonts that are easy to use. The problem is the presentation, in that the Google Fonts website does a poor job in showcasing the personality and potential of each typeface, so I found myself searching for things like "best google font combinations" on pinterest and beyond. Inspired by resources like Aesop Fables + Google Fonts and CSS Colours, I decided to see what was possible Google Fonts as a personal challenge. 


Most importantly, the domain 100DaysofFonts.com was available, so I really had no excuse. 

 


"What tools did you use?" 

Primary tools: Sublime Text, Github, Terminal, Google Fonts, and pen & paper. 
Secondary tools: Pinterest for late-night inspiration and Photoshop for quick "sketches" before the code.
 

 

"What was the hardest thing?"

Coming up with the content to "design" day after day. The project has taught me that I'm a designer who firmly believes in the importance of content before design. To echo the thoughts of Jeffrey Zeldman: 

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

 

 

"How do you feel now that it's over?"

Relieved. I'm going to be honest and say there were many days that I regretted taking on the challenge at all. After a long day at work, the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the computer and spend time coming up with something "original." 

Having said that, I'm 100% happy that I started and completed my 100 Days Project as I set out to. I feel proud and confident in a way I haven't felt in a while. 

I'm also finding myself a little bored without something I must do every night, so, stay tuned for more personal projects.

 

 

"What did you learn?" 

  • The creative community is incredibly supportive. I've been blown away by the encouragement and feedback I've received from fellow creatives (from friends to strangers) while working on this project. The project has been featured on sites like Sidebar.io, Subtraction.com, Design Taxi, as well as trending on Reddit and more. (As Josh says, "This is the most famous I've ever been!"). I feel lucky to have fallen into this field.
  • Personal projects help you grow in ways that your 9-5 does/can not. If you're considering starting one, do it, and find some way to stay accountable to your goals. 
  • Absolute positioning can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
  • Terminal is amazing.

I also learned a lot of things about myself as a person and designer as well as about those close to me who have been part of the 100 Days journey, which I won't go into here.

But, a huge thank you to those who followed and supported the 100 Days of Fonts journey. Maybe it's not quite over yet ;)  

Stay tuned.

xo,
d.