Goodbye California

Coffee shops. Sunshine. The small kick I get from seeing licence number plates with the word ‘California’ emblazoned across them. Badly designed currency. The way female news anchors have large lipstick smiles but deep manly voices. Strangers gleefully saying hello to you on the street. Having to risk your life every time you merge onto a US highway. My name somehow ‘Pool’ yet spelt with an ‘i’, and being mistaken as Australian.

Soon this will all become a distant memory. Last week I resigned from my position as Lead Designer at Ning, and as a result the visa allowing me to live in the United States will soon expire.

Ever since I received an e-mail out of the blue from Gina (Ning’s CEO) asking me if I would lend the company some of my ‘visual sensibilities’ two years ago, life has been somewhat of a whirlwind. Having picked me up from the wreckage of my former employer (Orange Vision facing liquidation and mounting debts at the time) it returns me back to the UK with a greater degree of confidence, fresh perspectives on my profession and a new group of friends from around the world.

I have learnt a lot in the last two years, and worked alongside some amazingly talented and warm-hearted individuals. However there comes a time when you realise you are no longer being challenged or inspired by the work you are doing. The same interaction problems, colour palettes, layouts and type selections can really wear a designer down.

On a personal level I look back on the last two years with mixed feelings. With the many highs, of course come some lows, and a few hopes that were never realised. However when I think about this last year, one in which I attended many design conferences, visited Las Vegas, Austin, Montreal and New York, as well as lived in San Francisco, it really is going to be a hard one to beat.

I’m certainly going to try.

So what’s next? Well, thanks to a raised level of awareness afforded to me thanks to my time with Ning, I’m going to dive into the world of freelancing (with the nervous excitement that comes with it) in the New Year. Signs are already looking good, and a few potential projects are already lining themselves up. Hopefully some of these will mean I can visit California again next year.

I would like to thank everybody I’ve met during my time here for making it such an enjoyable and enriching experience, one from which I hope many long lasting friendships will result. It really is no coincidence that I return to my homeland a man torn between two countries.


10 responses so far. Go on, add yours!

 Gravatar#1 On October 14, 2007 3:53 AM, Andy Higgs said...

Hello mate,

It's good to hear your heading back to Blighty, though I'm sure there will be certain things you'll soon be missing. Of course there are definite benefits to coming back over here, like the weather for example...

Anyway, I'm sure you'll enjoy the freelance circuit, and it'll be good to see you back at a 'pack meet soon.


 Gravatar#2 On October 16, 2007 3:58 AM, Si Jobling said...

So its good news and bad news all in one go.

I'm sure it was a hard decision to leave Ning and, therefore, the US but you should always follow your gut instinct.

It'll be great to have you back in the UK though mate and I look forward to seeing a lot more of you at future Multipack meets including the Reboot and Christmas Meal.

You never know, Roobottom might even make an appearance if you do (what was that pink thing in the sky then??)

 Gravatar#3 On October 16, 2007 4:22 AM, Jon Roobottom said...

Mate. I can't believe you didn't email me! Sodding hell, that's both good and bad news in one.

Good cos you'll be back in the UK and we wont have to wait 6 months to see ya, and bad because my dream of a cheep holiday in California has died (I never did get my add into gear did I?)

I'm looking forward to seeing you, catching up on some geekery and a couple of pints.

I just have a few choice words for you to consider as you plan your future. These words are as follows.

  1. Brighton.
  2. roodesign / four two

That is all.

 Gravatar#4 On October 18, 2007 10:42 PM, Jonathan Aquino said...

Alas, I shall missing working with you, Sir!

 Gravatar#5 On October 19, 2007 2:13 PM, darthlawb said...

Well - you said there was a big announcement on the way, and there it is!

Everytime, I have caught up with you, online or a visit to my humble home, you have excited me with the work and the times you have had while being away. If you really feel like it is time to move on, then so be it. I wish you all the best mate.

P.S Did you ever get the iPhone Touch or not? I am thinking about one for xmas, although, have you seen the new Zune?!? (lol)

 Gravatar#6 On October 24, 2007 11:16 PM, krystyn said...

Although I don't live anywhere close to SF, I am sad in a way that you will no longer be on this side of the pond. But... I know exactly how you feel about working within the confines of a single brand identity for a long period of time. Creative block hits me hard too on occasion and I do have my days where I miss the variety of agency work.

Unrelated, are you going to the FOWD conference in New York?

 Gravatar#7 On October 24, 2007 11:22 PM, Paul said...

I'm not going to FOWD, if only for the fact that I attended this conference in London earlier this year and was really disappointed with it. It seemed very much a platform for Adobe and Microsoft to push there wares, and for a number of ad agencies to recruit/showcase their portfolios. Hopefully the New York edition of this conference won't follow the same pattern!

Thanks for relating, hopefully you can watch this space and see what comes next!

 Gravatar#8 On October 25, 2007 7:36 PM, krystyn said...

I too hope this is not the case with the New York conference. There's a few speakers I'm looking forward to hearing... plus Squarespace is in NYC so I get to visit my comrades and work out of the Soho office for a few days. So even if it stinks, I know the trip will still be worthwhile.

I look forward to reading about your adventures!

 Gravatar#9 On October 27, 2007 11:44 AM, IanG said...


And I thought you were missing the uk and were coming back!

I've heard you are starting a new job on Monday - pray tell.


 Gravatar#10 On November 11, 2007 3:26 AM, Tom Graham said...

Sounds like you enjoyed being over there though. My brother emigrated to America last year and when I've visited I have loved the place. I'd like to live in San Fran for awhile just for the experience.

Good luck with your freelance venture

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HeadshotLloydyWeb is the home of Paul Robert Lloyd, a British graphic designer with a passion for web standards and attractive design.

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