When I worked at LBi, it had gone through many mergers to become the world’s largest independent marketing and technology agency. As it was created it died in the same way, from a series of mergers until its ultimate fate of being wholly absorbed into Digitas—the way of the agency world at its finest. In 2010, the company was working on bringing brands into the digital age by providing technology and design services to build their web presence. Helping launch multinational brands like J+J and WebMD with some of their early innovations in e-commerce. At the time, the agency market was largely dominated by big brands looking for outside creatives to infuse magic into their companies. The internet builders were still very much fragmented into different UX, UI, and technology teams trying to work together best.
While at IBM, I was cold-emailing all the agencies and studios in NYC. My goal was to get out of my home state and get lost in the city, fully absorbed in a design culture and scene where I would rise to the ranks. The reality was that I was an inexperienced designer at the start of a digital design boom. I had to reach out to everyone with links to my website and resume, and more often than not, the emails would remain unanswered. Luckily, I back-channeled with my old college professors and found an alumni working in NYC at LBi. I emailed him and was met with a welcome response. I took a train to NYC and interviewed with the company. I got the job quickly and began my solo journey to NYC at 22. I moved into a one-bedroom in Astoria, Queens.
I set up a desk in the corner of my small apt and got to work. I spent at LBi and nighttime freelancing and working on projects to improve my craft. Hungry to not be the lowest person on the totem pole. I took on loans to go to college and supported myself wholly in NYC. I had no option but to go up because I was lower than low; I was deeply in debt. I remember those years as filled with anxiety that I couldn’t pay off my loans, save money, and build a life. Everything was work in those days, and they would remain that way for many years. Sadly, in digital design, you look back at your work, which feels dated and uninspired. Maybe that’s true of all design, but it feels greater when applied with technology. Websites that used to require a floor of people to design and build now take me a single designer, a week of work, partially because of the skills I’ve created but more because of the rapid technological advancement.