Have you ever been to a truly great performance? Think about the best music festival or play that you’ve attended. Seeing artists perform at the top of their game is one of the most amazing experiences. When we see mastery in front of us, it’s engaging and it moves us.

Image for post
Image for post
Tame Impala — Nick Cane via Unsplash.com

I spent many years as a working musician touring with bands all over the US and occasionally abroad. While I’m not sure any of my performances would register at the aforementioned level of awesomeness, that experience gave me a backstage perspective. Behind every great performance, there are many factors that…


A fanciful illustration of people moving colorful Trello cards around
A fanciful illustration of people moving colorful Trello cards around

Every few years there is a tidal shift in the tooling used by Designers for web products. I’m old enough now to have been an evangelist of Fireworks, Photoshop, and more recently, Sketch. I even wrote this post about how great working in Sketch was. 2017 Stu was pretty smitten by the Sketch thing. Fast forward to 2019: I have been completely won over by Figma (along with most of the Trello Design team) and it all boils down to how well it works with a remote team.

Revisiting the old way of working…

Back in 2017, I would design a comp in Sketch, push my…


Recently, I was helping my wife with a problem she was having in Adobe Illustrator and I had the sudden realization that I’ve been using these apps for half of my life. Fifteen stinking years! I remember right where it all started too: my sophomore Year Book class. It was just me, Illustrator 10, a Power Mac G4, and a ton of teenage angst. I still love my Adobe apps after all of these years and I’m amazed at the staying power of the entire Creative Suite. After all these years, they feel like home in many ways.

But, if…


In 2014, I was the most stressed I had ever been running my business. I was in the middle of a ton of transition, but the single thing keeping me up at night was my crippling fear of missing payroll because I didn’t have enough cash in the bank. I went to my bank to apply for a line of credit and they sent me an enormous, multi-page PDF with what felt like a million fields per page. It really felt at that point that getting a second job would be easier than dealing with that pile of paperwork. …


If you’ve ever applied for a loan for anything, you know it can be a fairly invasive process. To actually get an offer or commitment from a financial institution, you’ll have to give up quite a bit of personal and sensitive information that you wouldn’t share with anyone under normal circumstances. This is true even with the most innovative of products. To adequately underwrite a business loan, especially one for $500,000, you can only automate certain things.

As a designer, I can’t change the fundamentals of lending as a whole so I have to look for the things I can


For the first 10 years of my career, I worked exclusively for clients. First as a freelancer and then later in the context of my design shop, Sputnik. In those years, I worked for some amazing people, but I also worked for a small number of really awful people. As much as you try to do your homework on the front end of a client engagement, it’s tough to fully know the person who has hired you without putting in the hours of work required to figure them out. …


As a design studio owner, December was always one of the most stressful months of the year. It inevitably was a messy mix of cramming in the final client projects of the year, figuring out just how much money to spend to balance out the tax load of the year while simultaneously trying to book projects with clients for the new year. All of this while balancing the business operations so I could do things like… make payroll or… eat. …


At the beginning of the summer, I had the great pleasure of getting to speak at AIGA Austin’s event, Under the Radar. AIGA is a fantastic organization that works to unify and support designers in our city and throughout the world. I’m incredibly thankful to have been a part of the evening.

Like most of the public speaking I’ve done, I procrastinated until the last minute to gather my thoughts. I’ll make the claim that I’m just researching further, but it’s really just a process of racking my brain for the right things to say. It is a tall order…


A couple of years ago my wife and I bought an older house in South Austin that was in desperate need of major updating (check out the before and after). It was the largest, most expensive, multifaceted project I’ve ever been a part of. All I can say is: if you’ve never been a first time home buyer and a first time remodeler all at once, you haven’t looked directly into the eyes of a beast that’s trying to destroy you. It’s really that dramatic…be glad you didn’t get roped into helping me out!

Now I’m no stranger to power…


One of the best parts of my job at Sputnik is getting to know the different people who come through our door to talk with us about their projects. I love these initial conversations with potential clients because it’s the time where we get to hear about the client’s aspirations and ideas for their project in their most raw form. It’s also the part of the relationship where we’re able to suss out if it’s the right opportunity or fit for us. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store