Behind the Scenes / December 2014

Meet Christina, Design & Development Apprentice

Getting started in a new industry can be a difficult transition. After meeting Christina Deemer, I quickly realized that she was the perfect candidate for an apprenticeship in digital design and development. She has since become our UX Developer. Take a few moments and get to know Christina.

How did you get into design and development?

After more than a decade in arts management and fundraising, I was ready to make a change but I wasn’t sure how to move forward. Web design and development found me by accident.

While on vacation in Mendocino, my husband and I were listening to a NPR program about some of the new programs that teach technology skills to women. One of the women profiled pointed out the similarities between learning to code and learning languages. That caught my attention. I have a lifelong interest in language. I was an English major, and took seven years of Russian in high school and college. I thought, maybe web development work could be as awesome as conjugating Russian verbs or analyzing a poem.

When I got home from California I began taking online tutorials through Codecademy. I enjoyed not only learning the vocabulary and syntax of code, but also the beauty and utility of what that code created. I’ve always loved making things that are beautiful, from cakes to quilts. My interest grew and I began taking courses through Girl Develop It and the University of the Arts. Those experiences directly led to my apprenticeship with Interactive Mechanics.

What did you do before working with Interactive Mechanics?

I started my career in arts management as an editorial intern at the American Poetry Review in 2001 and most recently was the Director of Annual Giving at Opera Philadelphia. In between were stints at The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Rosenbach Museum & Library. Philadelphia has such a dynamic and diverse arts scene and I feel privileged to have helped some of its most well regarded institutions meet their missions.

What’s your go-to place to spark your creativity (blogs, podcasts, websites, etc)?

I find inspiration in so many places. The design projects featured on Colossal are really striking and imaginative. I find posts on Creative Bloq, Cool Hunting, and Smashing Magazine, and A List Apart to be very useful.

Also, I find a lot of inspiration offline. The teachers and students in the classes I take with UArts and Girl Develop It leave me feeling empowered and motivated. I can’t say enough good things about them.

What are your favorite apps on your phone right now?

Right now my favorite app is Day One, a journaling app with a simple and elegant interface. It takes all of the features that you find in blogging – tags, photos, day/time stamps, etc. – and puts them into a private journal. One of my favorite features is the short writing prompt at the top of each page, such as “What was your first paying job?” or “What winter activities do you participate in?” It helps me get started. I’ve been journaling since fourth grade and Day One is the first electronic tool that really works for me.

Favorite place or spot in Philadelphia?

There are so many awesome spots in Philadelphia. A new addition to my list of Favorite Places is CultureWorks. It’s a really a great place to get things done. There is so much natural light and the white walls, white tables, and white chairs give the main room such a great airy quality.

Some of my longtime Favorite Places are 30th Street Station, Independence Hall, the Academy of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, the main branch of the Free Library, Reading Terminal Market, La Colombe, DiBruno Brothers, Rittenhouse Square, Tria, Barbuzzo, Isgro’s Bakery, the 2000 block of Delancey Place, and 13th Street between Market and Pine. I lived in a tiny studio on Pine between Broad and 13th when I was younger and watching 13th Street blossom into Midtown Village has been really cool.

What skills are you hoping to grow and develop through the apprenticeship?

I’ve been so thrilled with the apprenticeship because it is giving me the opportunity to road test certain skills that I’ve learned through classes and online tutorials, such as wireframing, usability testing, HTML/CSS, CSS frameworks, and CMSes. Also, I’m excited about acquiring new skills – UX and UI techniques and best practices, Git/GitHub, debugging best practices, and JavaScript and JavaScript libraries.