“Make it pop.”

The phrase is so ubiquitous in design meetings that it’s become an industry meme.

But consider a more empathetic lens: with these words, a client is trying to connect with you. Similarly to when my immigrant family says “Close the lights” (i.e. “turn them off”), clients may not necessarily have the right vocabulary to articulate their design needs. As a result, we receive generic talking points disguised as design requests. Then add the complication of client teams misaligned on their own brand and you’ve got a recipe for excessive revisions, budget churn, and frustration on both sides.

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Illustration by Erica Fasoli.

So, how do…


Laser eye surgery has been on my radar for years, but I’ve avoided it due to a mixture of apprehension — as a designer, I didn’t want the quality of my vision to erode — cost, and I’ll admit, a dash of laziness.

It me.

Plus, many clinics have the equivalent of “sleazy car salesman” approaches to this procedure that put me off for a while, despite my sister’s encouragement (she had it done a few years ago) and experiences shared by fellow design friends like Tracy.

But when Dan tweeted about his laser eye surgery, I decided: Enough!


In a fast-paced web world, signature design style has fallen by the wayside. Lea urges designers to push themselves more creatively and stop using design standards as an excuse to avoid originality.

What Is a Signature Design Style?

A signature design style is all about design originality. How your design aesthetic reflects your unique personality, tastes and even world view. How you translate client problems into design solutions.

Before Bright Umbrella, there was Lealea Design. When I started my company, I wanted to stand out from the crowd. I chose a palette of unapologetically feminine colors, and was liberal with my use of floral flourishes —…


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Photo credit: Nate Croft

Do or do not. There is no try.
— Yoda

When I was five years old, my parents took my sister, Ana, and me to Hong Kong as part of a business trip. On the last day, my mother took us into a toy store and, feeling generous, told us to pick out anything we wished. Ana chose a red toy piano.

I chose a toy computer.

Fast forward a few months and it was time for me to graduate kindergarten. The entire school was celebrating graduation, so I was in for an evening of listening to speeches. As children…

Lea Alcantara

sometimes pixels, sometimes code, always food. speaker, podcaster, and pop culture obsessive. visual design director @10up

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