get in touch

** 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




If you have a budget in mind, please let me know.
Do you have a timeline for your project or a hard deadline for launch?


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


Filtering by Tag: work


Ivonne Karamoy

In art school I learned what I still consider to be a very valuable lesson: know when to stop. I can be an indecisive person and it was extremely difficult for me to stop finicking with my drawings. I learned by practice that sometimes the more I mess with something, the worse it becomes. Every stroke of my charcoal was permanent and I either liked it or I didn't. And if I didn't, I had to keep working it until I liked it again. This allowed for some serendipity but it can also be frustrating. As I continued to do more work I learned to make informed and conscious decisions as I developed a piece. It was a hard process for me at first. I can be a bit of a control freak (maybe more than I'd like to admit) and the thought of making permanent marks without knowing if I would be happy with the result scared the shit out of me. One of my art professors told me in first year, "Don't be afraid to make that mark, don't hesitate. Have conviction in your strokes". It was valuable advice and one that I still try to practice. Art school taught me to not be afraid to put pencil (or charcoal) to paper, that things are never perfect at first and you keep working at it until your gut tells you it's done.

So experience taught me when to stop. The more drawings I did the more I trusted my gut in knowing that was the last stroke, any more and it would be ruined for me. I knew when I was happy with a piece and that if I kept working on it I wouldn't be any happier, in fact I might just be miserable. It's that intuition and awareness that I still take with me in my life and in my work.

Then I started designing for the web.

The web changes, it's constantly evolving and design for the web can change and most probably will change at some point in time. That's true of anything in technology really. It's very different from working with your hands on something tangible like a drawing or a painting. On the web, what's done is done - for now.

For some of us, it's why we like the web. The web itself is changing and a website can change as you or your company evolves. It's exciting but also a bit uncomfortable. I like the freedom of changing things, improving things, but like I said I can be indecisive. And the web enables the indecisive part of me. I think that experience, age and wisdom should make you more decisive and give you more conviction and confidence in yourself and your decisions. So I don't like to humor my indecision. I respect decisiveness because it is so difficult for me. But the web gives me the freedom to change. I can change my mind every year or two. Heck I can redesign my website every month if I wanted to. Of course, it's easy to do this when it's your own personal project. Working on client work is different. You have a set amount of time to finish something and you do your best work in the time you're given and that's that. Sometimes the best indication of done is when your time is up. That I find comforting. So I try to keep my indecision in check and I think that's part of being a designer. You have difficult decisions to make and you have to outweigh the different paths to take and make the most informed decisions with the time you're given and that's it.

Don't get me wrong, I like designing for the web and I've learned to adapt myself to the flow of the web. We're all learning to embrace the changing nature of the web. We've moved beyond the strict guidelines in print design that made it's way to the web. Responsive design reminds us that the web is dynamic and fluid. Agile development tells us to release now and change often. Apps are updated all the time. The websites you've come to love: the facebooks, the twitters, are constantly being redesigned and re-imagined. New apps crop up that make the previous ones from six months ago feel dated. Apps constantly need updating. Devices are updated every year or so. We learn from our audience and we change things. But change can be good or it can be bad. We need to change for the better and that takes a lot of discipline. We need to ask ourselves, will this redesign help our audience and our business? And what helps our business may not help our audience, and vice versa.

As a professional in this field, I'm excited by this evolution. I find it empowering and challenging. As a creative person I find it both freeing and restricting. As a consumer and as a person, I'm exhausted by all this change.

Sometimes I just want something to be done, finished, in all it's shiny glory as a remnant of that particular point in time, never to be touched again.

Sometimes it would be nice to create something and be done.

Managing Change

Ivonne Karamoy

I once heard someone say, "Do something that makes you uncomfortable". I think that being uncomfortable is one of the keys to growing. Life has a way of letting you settle into your normal, your schedule, your happenings. And then wham! something changes and you're forced to react, adjust and settle in again. Change is the one constant in life. And the more we resist it the more difficult it is to accept. I made a career change or rather an adjustment lately. After freelancing full time I decided to take a permanent full-time position working for a company and while also maintaining a part-time freelancing career. Part of the reasoning was personal and part of it was that I think I was ripe for change in my professional life. After designing and illustrating for a few years and enjoying the work that I was doing I wanted to try my hand at something close but somewhat new. I took a position as a UX designer and front-end developer and am working for an organization designing it's online content management system.

I've realized that designing a product and building and improving on that one idea is quite different from designing for games or web projects. It requires a different mentality and approach. Where I would have project stints for one game or website or design project, now I am working through a release cycle in an agile environment on essentially one product. In some ways it can be exciting to know that as your product grows you grow with it and you make changes for your clients and improve on your initial assumptions. On the other hand you don't have that release where you send your work out into the world and set it free. True, game and website development isn't necessarily finished when you release it and you can improve upon it but there is still that big launch when it's completed. In an agile product development cycle, your work is evolving and growing. You have less time to finalize your decisions and have to make compromises for the sake of business objectives or time restraints. It is quite challenging for someone who is comfortable developing a project and refining it before it's released. In terms of production it is a huge change for me and can be quite challenging on it's own without the design challenges that also comes with it.

I'm uncomfortable and nervous and anxious but also excited, hopeful and determined. I'm working in a way that I haven't worked before. In designing game interfaces and websites, you have to think about UX but the types of users you're designing for are different. Designing a software product or service poses different challenges in UX, UI and graphic design. Your audience is different in many ways. The context in which they use your product is different. Their motives are different. The tone takes a more serious turn. Your product must allow them to perform the tasks they need to without too much hassle and also give them some other functionality that they hadn't realized they could use. Your design aesthetic changes a bit as well. Your designs are sometimes based more on business objectives, time constraints and development challenges. It's an uncomfortable position for a designer to be in and though I welcome the challenge it can be frustrating. I do believe that being able to design within these limitations or restrictions is beneficial to growing as a designer. On a personal note it also allows me to enjoy and appreciate my freelance projects more because I have a certain level of artistic freedom and creativity. You can definitely be a bit more playful and have a sense of humour when you design for games or websites (depending on the website). I have counted myself lucky to have had and to continue to have amazing freelance clients who trust me and believe in my work. My full-time gig has given me insight into what it takes to be part of a development group and face the challenges many designers face: defending and arguing for the sake of design. I've never had to fight for design like this but I think I have been in a unique position until now and this experience will only make me a better designer.

Into the world of UX

Ivonne Karamoy

There is a mind shift that needs to happen for a designer to delve into the world of user experience design. Your aesthetic design sense changes because you're thinking not only of the visual design elements but how they work together. You have to care about the overall look and feel but also of the usability of the application and how users will interact with it. UX design often incites many debates about what it means, it's application, the skill sets people should have if they are to label themselves as such, etc. But the point is that user experience design is important and some people find themselves relegated to that position in addition to being a designer, a front-end developer, an interaction designer, etc. Some of us come from a Human Computer Interaction background, a technical development background, a psychology background, a designer background. All of that I think is great because working in technology these days means being able to adapt, acquire and use different skill sets.

For my role as a UX designer and developer, it means that I have a lot of things to think about... How intuitive is it for people to use the product and to navigate it? What does the visual design of the product say to our users? Does the functional design help to achieve the users goals? How well do the interactive pieces fit together from an architectural point of view? Does the design of the interface support and enhance the user workflow and does the application help to support their needs and goals?

Should all of these things be handled by one person? Probably not. Ideally there would be a team. But in some cases, including mine, you work on all aspects at one point or another. The thing I've learned is to try to separate it. I may be in charge of completing the design from start to finish and perhaps even code it but I try to approach them seperately at first. Tackle the workflow, the design, then usability, then the experience... you may cycle back to the workflow and fine tune it again, then critique the experience and the usability and then redesign. Development might happen after the first pass then you redesign it and make changes to the  implementation.

It's a challenging world to work in but can open a designer and developers mind in new and unexpected ways. It also helps to bridge the gap between design and development as we try to create experiences that are effective, effortless and enjoyable.


Ladies Learning Code

Ivonne Karamoy

ladies learning code

For those of you who don't know, Toronto has a pretty fantastic developer community! There's a bit of a startup vibe in this city and that helps to encourage and feed the developer and designer community. Designers are eager to learn from developers and developers understand more and more the importance of designers.

I've been getting involved in the community when I can and the biggest instigator of that was Ladies Learning Code (LLC).For those of you who don't know about Ladies Learning Code, they are a not-for-profit who provides reasonably priced development workshops targeted for women (though men can attend). The demand has been astonishing! They've had at least one workshop a month, two per month in 2012, and each one has sold out almost instantly! All of their workshops are lead by volunteer instructors who are working in the tech industry. Each workshop is aided by volunteer mentors who also work in the industry and are there to help the students with any questions they may have during the workshop.

Heather Payne along with Melissa Crnic, Breanna Hughes, and Laura Plant run LLC together. They are such an enthusiastic group of women that you can't help but be excited about it!

Since I met with Heather back in December I've become a volunteer mentor at their Wordpress workshop this past January and this weekend I'll be there again to help out with their HTML/CSS workshop. It's such a great vibe and you meet such wonderful fellow mentors in the industry and amazingly enthusiastic people who are eager to learn! I'm also mentoring at their Intro to Photoshop & Illustrator workshop next weekend.

If that wasn't enough - and this is one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to get involved with LLC - they are also running a March Break camp for girls called Girls Learning Code. I will be one of the instructors for the full week and I'm incredibly excited to help the girls feed their creativity in technology. You can find more information here.

Ladies Learning Code has major plans to expand and provide more and more opportunities to encourage women and young girls. Last week they launched a job board that helps to connect people in the industry with the LLC community to find talent for various positions. The job board itself is based on a Wordpress theme that they purchased but Heather asked me to modify the CSS to be consistent with the Ladies Learning Code website and branding. Check it out... it may lead you to a great opportunity!

For more info about Ladies Learning Code, check out their website. You can also sign up to their email list, or to volunteer as a Mentor - and I would highly recommend it! - join their developer email list.