I’m going to preface this review with this statement: I was completely unprepared for my experience at City Cycle. As a fitness enthusiast, especially one that has tried so many different sports and activities, I thought I had experienced it all…then I went to City Cycle.

It all started a few weeks ago when I signed up for Class Pass in an attempt to try new activities that wouldn’t aggravate existing injuries. After doing several rounds of yoga, I decided to expand my horizons and go to a cycle class. I had been to a few cycle classes run out…

The importance of asking questions as a new designer

When I was in grade school, I was notorious among my teachers for asking a TON of questions. I would always go up to them and say, “I have a question…” and proceed to ask at least one (if not more). It wasn’t unusual for me to come back a minute or two later and say, “Just one more question…” I’m sure my desire to ask so many questions came from my perfectionism, and surprisingly, no one ever guessed that I would be a designer.

When I started doing design after…

Why I decided to move from UI Design to Product Management

I remember my first “real” design project. When I was in high school, my brother asked me to create some graphics for his startup. I was using Illustrator CS2 and more specifically, the ever dreaded, or for me, beloved pen tool. For hours I slaved over those graphics. If you’ve ever used the pen tool to make hair, you know what I’m talking about. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t getting paid or that the startup would eventually fail. …

Sometimes you have to fail to succeed

One of the most dreaded projects in a designers life is putting together a portfolio. I’ve boiled it down to the fact that we don’t have any concrete requirements or style directions to work from (a true blue ocean) and that we are our own worst critics.


I decided a few months ago that my portfolio needed a refresh. My old model wasn’t very mobile friendly, it didn’t have a structure that supported writing case studies about my designs, and it didn’t “feel like me” anymore. …

Using the command line with git has been something I have struggled to understand since the very first time I used it. I could do the basic commands (pull, add, commit, push) and would run those commands like a robot creating parts on an assembly line. I understood what I was doing, and that there were other factory bots creating parts, but could not put it in context how what I was doing was working with everyone else. If there were ever any issue, my robot brain would go into “ERROR” mode and shut down until someone else could come…

It seems like recently I’ve been getting a lot of requests to grab coffee to chat about my job as a designer. Design, whether it’s visual or UX (user experience), is definitely an up and coming field. Most higher-ups are starting to realize that design has the amazing power to make or break a company’s success.

This is great news for designers who often have to struggle to be heard (or respected). I always say design is so much harder than development. With development, it either works or it doesn’t. If it works, the client is happy. With design, you…

I like to spend a lot of my free time doing various athletic activities. Recently my top 3 choices of after-work indulgence are ultimate frisbee, crossfit, and squash. I’ve been playing squash since I was 13, and it is by far one of my favorite sports to play. It’s requires speed, agility, fitness, tact, and technique. Some of the best players in the world are mesmerizing to watch. (See here)

So, when the owner of the Madison Squash Workshop, Damon Bourne, asked me to brand this year’s Madison Open, a pro tournament that brings some of the best squash players…

2014 has been an amazing year for Design Like Mad! Design Like Mad is a 12-hour design marathon that brings together student and professional designers (of all types) to work on pro-bono projects for local non profit organizations.

We started out with a BANG! combining forces with the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon to begin planning for our first event outside Madison.

One of our biggest accomplishments this summer was the acceptance of our status as a 501(c)3 organization. The summer also brought some great collaboration (and fun) within the Madison and Portland organizing teams. …

Recently I had the pleasure of working with RD Weeks from RAZ Productions. RD was in need of logo for start up company, and had an interesting concept for the design that came from the company’s name. RAZ Productions is a talent agency that connects fresh, “hidden” musical talent to venues (particularly in college towns). He was really intrigued by the concept of “hidden” or “secret” talent becoming visible and wanted a logo to reflect this aspect of his company.

As with many of my clients, RD came with a clear concept in mind. He wanted a very literal representation…

First of all, I’m sorry for not posting in a while. The summers in Madison are prime time to take advantage of the weather, so I’ve had less time on my hands the past few months :) Not to mention another successful Design Like Mad MSN and a quickly approaching Design Like Mad PDX on October 25th!

I thought I would start off my first blog post back with a poster that I’ve been working on since earlier this summer. In honor of my impending 3 week vacation to Australia, here’s a “Just Keep Swimming” poster from my favorite movie of all time (yes, it is), Finding Nemo.

I’ve got lots more EXCITING design projects coming soon, so keep your eyes open!


Download the Nemo Poster!

Abby Larner

Designerd and coder turned Product Manager.

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