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** I am unavailable for freelance work until January 2014 **

If you'd like  to get in touch about a freelance project or just to say hi, please send me a message using the form or via twitter at @ivonnekn.

~ Ivonne




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Designer and illustrator specializing in brand identity design, web design and UI/UX design, based in Toronto via Milton.


Filtering by Category: Thoughts

100 Days of Making

Ivonne Karamoy

Yesterday marked the end of my 100 days of making. As part of #The100DayProject, instigated by artist Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, I committed to a line drawing each day for 100 days from April 5th - July 14th. The result is a body of work, the seeds of ideas, a lovely daily practice and most importantly the realization of the importance of play in my work and in my life.

I will admit that I fell behind constantly and was rarely on track except for maybe the first 30 days. There were days when I knew what I wanted to draw, most days I didn't. There were days when I hated what I drew and other times when I loved it. Days when it was a chore and days when it was a respite. Days when I thought it was stupid and days when it was inspirational. But one thing was for sure, every time I was on track, every time I completed a drawing, good or bad, I felt productive, accomplished and liberated.

View the complete 100 days (and more) of line drawings

I had some very simple goals for the project:

  1. To give myself permission to draw every day.
  2. To draw whatever I felt like and not worry about concept or problems or anything of consequence - essentially, to play.
  3. To complete a personal body of work without the expectation of polish.
  4. To finish. Working primarily on the web, I crave the idea of finishing something and to have it remain in that state forever.

I accomplished all of them except maybe #2. I say maybe because I did draw whatever I felt like but I found that as the project continued I did worry about consequence. There were days when I worried about the superficiality of what I was drawing. Girls in fashionable clothing, animals in silhouette, a cupcake, an apple. What did it all mean? Where will it lead me? I had to remind myself that it meant nothing, that it doesn't have to mean anything. That the whole point of this project was to make. It was about the act of making, not the final image. It was about drawing for the sake of drawing, playing for the sake of playing.

I'm a designer. I solve problems. That's what I love about design. I approach a problem, I analyze it, I look at it in different ways and I critique every decision. Being analytical and critical is important to design. But I've realized that for me it can also overcomplicate things. It's easy to get lost in all the data, in all the market research, but the best designs are elegant in their simplicity. So the practice of making, of playing each day is essential for me to get out of my head. To be less serious, have fun and let the ideas flow even if they mean nothing. That's what this project allowed me to do. 

I hadn't realized when I started just how critical I can be with myself and how serious I can be. That has affected my work, my life and my conviction. Thoughtfulness is important to me. But great design is thoughtful and playful. And what's life without a little playfulness? So thanks to this project I am learning to play, to make, to create without consequence and to get out of my head.

There's a time and place for everything, so when it's time to play, play. Enjoy it and don't overanalyze. And when it's time for work, perhaps some of that play will sneak in and help you get out of your head. After all it takes some playfulness to turn a problem upside down, inside out and back together again.

Though the project has ended, I'm continuing on with my drawings. It is a valuable habit that I'd like to keep. This time I'm going to consciously allow myself to play when I want to and to be thoughtful when I want to, giving each the proper space. If you'd like to follow along, I'm @ivonnekn on Instagram.


Generation X/Y

Ivonne Karamoy

I was born in 1982. I fall right at the cusp (arguably) at the end of Generation X and the beginning of Generation Y, or the Millennials as they call it. 

I've always loved history. I'm interested in the contemporaries of a certain age and what life was like for them. It's difficult to classify and characterize the present state of our culture at any time because when you're in it and it's your present, there's a whole lot of things going on and you have no idea if they'll truly be a fixture in history or a minor blip on the radar. It's only when we step back that we can truly grasp the profound effect things have had on our culture and our history.

Looking back now, having lived a little, I realize that we, as a generation, have lived–and are living through–some of the most important changes in history. Most obviously, of course, the Internet and the digital age. And what's better is that we know what it was like before the Internet. There has been a lot of technological advancements in the last 200 years–the telephone, the television, moving pictures (or movies as we know it). And the Internet is the latest advancement that will effect us forever. Some people have likened the introduction of the Internet to the introduction of the printing press in terms of how it effects things, but I would argue that the Internet is much bigger than the printing press.

I don't think we can determine exactly what effect the Internet will have in terms of how we live our lives in the future. But we definitely see the world as being much closer than ever before. We can reach people and information from any part of the world with a single click. That's pretty incredible! And it's amazing that we're living through the early days of the Internet and computer technology.

I remember hand-writing my school work and moving from writing research points to rough drafts to finished, final, polished copy, all by hand. Now there are computers in the classroom and you type everything up! Plus you have access to a phone, a camera, social media and messaging, and all of the Internet right in your pocket. Think about that. Just think about what wasn't possible just a mere 30 years ago and what's possible now.

Of course, with change comes uncertainty and some awkward growing pains. The side effect of this is that many of us don't yet know how to effectively use this technology to affect positive change, but I think we're getting to that. Remember when websites were simple, ugly, dry documents that only PhD candidates would sit through to read? Remember when HTML and CSS was starting to grow, how many blinking and scrolling banners with jarring pink text there was? Remember when we designed websites for a fixed width of 640 x 480 or, max, 800 x 600? Remember when we made mixed tapes? Remember when we tossed said tapes for custom burned CD's? Remember when MP3 players were introduced and when Apple took that to the next level with their iPod and then revolutionized personal computing and the telephone with the iPhone? Heck, remember when cell phones became ubiquitous? I didn't have my first, very own cell phone until I was 19 and that felt like freedom. Now, 8 year olds can't keep up with the latest playground trend without one. And cell phones nowadays are not just phones either. Just think about how technology has changed and what we've seen and experienced in our time. It's pretty incredible.

I hope that we, as a generation, can harness this technology for good and positive change that will help future generations. I have high hopes for the next Generation Z-ers. They haven't really known life without this technology so they're primed to do something great with it. We're starting to see how the next wave of technology will effect our lives, from Google glass, Interaxon's brain sensing head band, to wearable technology and wired homes. There's some great things to come. I hope that in the midst of all this innovation we take the time to identify and forecast the potential side effects, of which we know nothing about at the moment, and take that into consideration. I think our increasing awareness and understanding of human rights, the environment and mental health will help us along that path.

I wrote this post because I want to remind myself that we're living through some incredible technological innovations and taking a step back will help us realize and appreciate what we have and can do with technology. Step out of the mentality of always wanting something better, bigger–or smaller in technology's case–and most importantly newer. It's easy to get lost and caught up in this mindset, but remember that the advancements we're living through today and how we use it will effect the future and leave a mark in history. I don't want us to be remembered as the generation of trend-consumers, always updating, outdoing and out-consuming the latest and greatest just for bragging rights. We're living through some incredible things, let's do something incredible with them!

Keep your eyes open people and take a moment to take it in, we're gonna have some great stories for our grandkids!

Fall beginnings

Ivonne Karamoy

I used to hate September and the coming of Fall. When I was younger it marked the beginning of school and another year of homework. Though I was always itching to see my friends again and return to the routine, it signaled the end of summer and fun. In University it was worse. As soon as school started it was back to the weekly grind of classes, weekly assignments, homework and late nights.

The one thing I did like was the idea of starting something new. I loved getting my notebooks, my pencils, my backpack and everything all set up for the new school year. Everything had possibility and you can imagine all the great things you're going to learn and do. But then the day-to-day hit and there were deadlines, homework and never enough time to do anything. Once school started going, all the promise of the beginning seemed to disappear.

Every time I start something new or get a new project I'm immediately so pumped and excited. I imagine all the possibilities and am so inspired. Once the project gets rolling, it's about getting things done and staying afloat. Somewhere along the way I left the inspiration and enthusiasm behind. If I take a minute to think about what I'm doing and what I'm working on–the big picture–it comes back, but the problem is that I rarely take that moment. And I've realized that taking that moment makes all the difference.

As a self-confessed perfectionist, I'm trying to keep my perfectionist mindset in check by taking that moment to look at the big picture. It's not about what I imagined or the promise of the beginning. It's about seeing something through to the end and realizing that it is done. If I always stand at the edge of the boat and never dive in or turn around as soon as I hit that water, I'll never know all the beauty that lies underneath the surface.

I've left so many half-baked personal projects because it was different than what I pictured at the beginning. And that makes me lose momentum. But usually they're different because what I imagined doesn't work in real life. In reality, the initial designs or illustrations needed to change for it to be better and more effective. I realize this now. Until now, I've dwelled on the fact that it looks different and I stop mid-way through the project because of it. I don't do this with client projects because there are deadlines and expectations and that helps me push through. That motivation to push through on a personal project is much harder to find because the brief is open ended. It's your project. It's whatever you make it out to be. But I don't want to leave these things behind anymore. I don't want to have these ideas and not see them through, even if they're different than what I initially imagined. It's not about the beginning and the excitement that comes with the promise of something. It's about seeing that promise through to the end and getting things done. When I do accomplish something it's the best feeling in the world. I need to step back mid-way through a project and remember that feeling to help me push to the end. Because I've realized that finishing something is way more important than creating something perfect, because let's be honest, there is no such thing as perfect.


Preparing for Opportunity

Ivonne Karamoy

2013 was a contemplative year. I thought a lot about where I was in life, what I wanted for my future life, and what I was prepared to do to make the changes I needed to. Reflection is good in doses, but a year spent reflecting can turn into a year of waiting. It seems a wasteful way to spend a year, and I wasn't at all comfortable waiting around.

What was I waiting for exactly? Well there was a lot of personal transitions - waiting for our home, waiting to take a long awaited trip to my birth place, and then waiting to make a career move. Perhaps I didn't need to spend the year waiting so much - I should have just done it. But life doesn't always allow you to throw caution at the wind and do what you want in a heart beat. Maybe it's being this grown up person that makes me want to plan things but maybe it's that we learn how to prepare for things better. The thing is, I'm not a big fan of plans, since life doesn't always go as planned anyway. But there's something to be said about being ready for opportunity. And that's what 2013 was - it has prepared us for opportunity and forward motion, so bring it on 2014!