This thesis is a multimodal investigation on the topic of skin. It considers the linguistics of skins in society and design, with particular focus on materiality and the surfaces our bodies come in contact with. It questions the polarities of our digitally mediated lives in contrast to the natural world, and what it means to be present in space.

Centered on the process of making biomaterials, I explore concepts of how touch and sensory design play a vital role in human interaction, intimacy and authentic communication.



This thesis explores the contexts and constructs of design that define our creative practice. Envisioning these constructs as a map, it examines the systems of value that this map prioritizes and offers ideas of how a designer might engage in a process of “counter-mapping” in order to center their own values and beliefs within creative practice. I explore how this reprioritization of the values and beliefs we uphold through our design work offers designers a greater possibility of working to manifest the things they care about through design, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling design practice.



From skies and skills to plows and pixels, this work digs deeper into the history of hardships. It examines how farm life lessons are a continuum from before my time in history. Now, even with all the progress and new technologies, the original ways of cultivation, employment, and spirituality have persisted even to how I run my design firm today.

The seeds were first planted for this work from a curious ask: “Why am I here?”

The answer is an autoethnographic study about understanding the addicted artist and the resilience and mindfulness tools that can lead to physical, mental, and spiritual health, how to build a safe space where a creative career and life can align honestly and authentically. How through the work of recovery, you are responsible for cultivating and creating your own gratitude design practice.

My goal is to look inside yourself at what you are numbing from and what practicing gratitude might look and feel like to you. Old patterns and habits create pressure to be perfectionistic, not feel enough, not feel at all, and only stay at surface level. These behaviors have a long-term unhealthy effect on designers and can lead to burnout, depression, and addiction. Through personal work and research in recovery, beliefs can change, blindspots can be overcome, anxiety can be reduced, and depression can be alleviated by creating a safe space.

A safe space to share creates acceptance and abundance thinking. It makes room to realize you have a choice to heal the addicted artist and cultivates a mindset that makes a life truly fulfilling.



53 ︎︎︎ Make this shovel dance.

19 ︎︎︎ Google search the name of someone you hate. Write them a letter.

28 ︎︎︎ Bang your head against the nearest door fifty times while singing the lyrics to a sitcom from your youth. Resist the urge to scratch your forehead afterward. Instead, scratch a mirror. Look into the mirror and ask yourself if you feel better. If not, watch an old episode of said sitcom on YouTube. If so, draw a portrait of the sitcom’s protagonist scratching their head.

For the last six months, I responded to one hundred questions and documented the often unpredictable conditions of working under constraints. In Turn This Leaf Into a Weapon, I examine what might happen if I choose to embrace these limitations rather than fight against them. How does the acknowledgment of constraints affect my decision-making? Can these self-imposed obstructions enable a new way of seeing things, both for me and others? How can I find humor, absurdity, and joyfulness in everyday life?

The one-hundred constraints explored in this book forced me to question all aspects of my life, including many that I struggled to accept. Frequently self-imposed, many provocations afforded me the opportunity to confront my vulnerabilities. I devised prompts that forced myself out of the desire to people-please. I challenged my insecurities of being uncomfortable in a performative space. I tested my patience as an adult living with ADHD. I found humor during a year when it was sorely missed. Acknowledging my struggles allowed me the space to confront them. I worked on a spectrum, imposing strict rules on one end and abstract prompts with vague directives on the other. I sought out new ways of challenging myself as a creative agent.

This book seeks to uncover the emancipating power of constraints in a creative endeavor and their ability to disrupt predictable processes and outcomes.


FLUX        APRIL 2021