One Flew Over the Coopers’ Nest

85 2nd Street, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

via email to:

Dear Coopers and Cooper Team:

You were not kidding about the inmates running the asylum. And in this era of digital mobility, the mental health professionals are still running around with their clipboards and pencils, stuffing their three-ring binders with lots of badly designed forms printed on paper despite collecting nothing more than yes/no data depleting time, energy, and resources better devoted toward providing psychotherapeutic care. While keeping their lawyers and the pharmaceutical company executives very happy. So much for that great paperless society that your colleagues promised. Got kids? Call me crazy, but unfortunately, I don’t think the behavior of their classmates is going to improve with products like Google Glass, though if you’re looking to push into a market long overdue for disruption, I’ve already done that deep design research of your potential clients’ needs, devised personas by careful observation of real, live, flesh-and-blood people in action instead of following the bastardized version of your empathy-building methodology by imagining stereotypes and finding end users who, sure enough, fit those demographics. Also identified their clients’ needs, solutions curiously missed by our nation’s top communication designers, including consultants working with your good friend Bill Gates.

So instead of working on your very fun visual design problems that I wish I had been assigned when I was in college, instead of or maybe in addition to those very fun field trips to the Computer Science department at my undergrad alma mater – wow! if CS would just better visually communicate its attractions to a wider audience, then maybe I wouldn’t have majored in Art! – to watch what must have been early versions of 3D printers in action, and nerds who could not think of more imaginative uses for their paintbrush tools than producing digital representations of their pet puppies (aww…) – in between job applications, now I am rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on solutions for real-world problems. If you give me a job, then I will be able to focus fulltime on client-based solutions.

Are these positions that you posted last summer still available? Really? In this employers’ market?

In that case, thank you for reconsidering my fit for your team and my qualifications that I have rigorously developed since my last application with your firm, oh, so many naïve Great Recession years ago.

Visual Design Practice Director

Of your currently posted positions, this one sounds most closely matched to my motley collection of skills, experiences, and career goals to best serve your clients:

  • I am what psychologists sometimes describe as a healthy, ego-invested individual which means my ego is not easily shattered hearing opinions that disagree with my own, plus decades of training in giving and receiving critique; is yours the team healthy enough to reciprocate my respect?
  • my creativity knows no bounds, bridging media across virtual and architectural space, and especially after my recent experiences, I look forward to ongoing discussions about the differences between trauma recovery and designing solutions for the 21st century’s most challenging problems:

Yes, I have all of the basics covered, to sometimes significantly more, or perhaps slightly less than your qualifications, but ready to grow to meet new challenges. Don’t let the knitwear fool you. It’s just another, earlier system of ones and zeroes:

heart on my sleeve design as you go

Design-As-You-Go Heart-on-My-Sleeve wide vee-neck, drop-shoulder, center heart cable, ribbed pullover in mixed fibers, 2013, from design notes in Illustrator.

Maybe useful skills, along with that background in figure painting and anatomy, as digital interface tries to figure out how to develop a wearables market?

If you have already found that dynamic and charismatic designer who can lead and push your visual design practice to new heights (or depths), then

Visual Designer

describes my visual conception and execution abilities. In my freelance work for Stanford University, I:

  • corrected typos in their institutional design guidelines that included pointing users to the wrong hexadecimal color for their brand
  • ever-so-sweetly explained to their Graduate School of Business that if they wanted their online sweatshop labor to apply their program’s dual logos in the same size on their digital collateral, then maybe their in-house, salaried design team could post those files to their brand communications site?
  • restrained myself from wondering aloud that maybe Stanford University could scrounge up an Apple computer somewhere on their campus prior to asking for my free assistance trouble-shooting their illegally downloaded font files?
  • did not make enough to pay rent that month

Client feedback: “We love what you’ve done with the typography” and “Many thanks for your creative energies on this project! I’ve enjoyed working with you,” plus assurances that their mailing list was very good public relations for me and would lead to more work (that never materialized).

Reviewing my previous app to your firm, I cringe with my naïve efforts, but notice I anticipated the trend away from highlighting and drop-shadowing that would come to be known as flat design. Next up: digital icon designers will stop imitating office supplies from the 1970s. Are you with me?

Tiny suggestion on your visual designer job description, find a workaround for your named anchor tag to your Visual Design Challenge, because right now the heading gets buried beneath your logo and navigation menu bar, which is disorienting to visitors clicking that link. Maybe add a 48px transparent pixel .png to place in the tag:

<p> We like animators and print designers, but that’s not the job we’re hiring for. We’re looking for people who want to work full-time at our San Francisco office. We occasionally use contractors.</p>

<p>If this sounds like the kind of work you want to do, check out our <a href=”#vsd”>Visual Design Challenge</a> or email <a href=””></a> with your portfolio and résumé.</p>

<a id=”vsd”><img src=”images/spacer.png” alt=”spacer” width=”1″ height=”48″ /></a>


<h2>Visual Design Challenge</h2>




Much as I’d like to play around with that assignment again, instead, I’m going to get back to work on the smartphone QWERTY problem that algorithms alone do not solve in relation to flesh-and-blood human beings. And then if I still have time I’m going to reorganize Adobe’s filters and tools menus in a way that makes sense to folks who are expert across all of the analogue media that their digital versions hope to simulate instead of engineers assigning the label of “artistic” to anything that begins to nudge close to the edge of a grid.

You will probably want to see more portfolio items before you hand me the title of

Interaction Designer

although I think my design writing, research, and portfolio samples demonstrate:

Kudos to your culture of team-pairings, although I am not sure whether I would best fit the flavor of generator or synthesizer, or bridge across that border between the two categories, deftly working back and forth between words and pictures.

All I know is that I really want to work with a team to make things better. One of the most exciting days of my life was when Alan Cooper finally finally finally returned my follow on Twitter. Do you have any idea how hard I had to work at that? You’re not going to lose the opportunity to add me to your team to Google’s formerly wildest designer, are you? Are your job candidates seriously still sending their portfolios and résumés as email attachments?

My humblest thank yous for your reconsideration,

Jana Brubaker

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