– founder & creative director –
Life at the intersection of science and art.
My grandfather was an art professor and my dad a Harvard surgeon. So, I guess you could say art beat science to the punch.
I fell in love with finger painting and drawing in grade school, but dissecting and crunching numbers didn’t really enter my life until high school. I realized that being a biotech website designer was the best way to incorporate both art and science into my life.
I studied fine arts in college, so I learned stuff like raku-fired pottery, oil painting and graphic design.
In the last few years of my studies, the Mac came along. It was brand new and there was nobody around to show me how to operate it. So I remember spending one day reading the manual from cover to cover. And the minute I saw it could easily resize fonts and adjust leading and kerning, I was hooked.
It never really left, actually. Throughout my career I’ve worked and taught at colleges and universities, big pharma, and design agencies. Whether it’s being around scientists or communicating about novel discoveries, science has always been in the mix.
Hey, change is a good thing! Not only do I get to work with scientists who are the ‘new growth’ at end of their branch of science, but I get to tell their stories with an ever-changing palette of tools. Change is what makes my life so energizing!
That’s easy: my clients. That may sound corny, but they’re all doing fascinating stuff – they just need help telling their story. I simply listen and learn about their science, then provide a more robust and nuanced visual vocabulary.
All my projects start with a kickoff where I get to be the most curious person in the room (at least for that hour!). I ask 10 questions, then listen really carefully. The seed of inspiration almost always has its genesis in those conversations.
Truth is, most biotech websites aren’t that unique. It’s because people have expectations of how websites should be organized and function.
But that sameness is also what makes being a biotech website designer such a fun challenge. The trick is to study a client’s particular niche, understand their goals and what makes them unique, then really leaning into those often very small differences.
A typical biotech website design project takes 12 weeks. Each week, our team meets with the client’s team to share progress, clarify assignments, identify roadblocks and get feedback.
I have a saying: I’m deadly serious about having fun. The design process is fun, but we know we have a job to do with serious business objectives. In spite of the seriousness of what’s on the line, my own personal goal is to have each of my clients be bummed if they’re unable to attend a meeting.
The creative director in charge of design, message, and strategy. The role requires a mastery of design, illustration, writing, SEO, and web development.
A background in biotech helps, too. I’ve worked in-house at a couple of big pharmas and completed 30+ biotech website design projects prior to starting Stellar – from seed-stage startups to a multi-asset pharmaceutical IPO with a $2B market cap.
Frankly, biotech’s a crowded space and it’s been my experience that competition spurs excellence. I found myself getting addicted to the rush of swinging for the fences on every project.
After years of working at a couple of Boston-based web shops, I think I caught the startup bug. Every day I meet with biotech visionaries pursuing their dreams and it inevitably inspired me to pursue my own vision.
That’s a tough one. I love learning just about anything, but if I had to pick, I think my favorite part is the design reveal. Client’s think it’s magic and that’s fun, but the most satisfying part for me as a biotech website designer is the moment they see their new true self reflected in the design and they love what they see – a new expression that embodies everything they’re trying to achieve. That never gets old.
Burn out is real: last year I did 17 projects. Fortunately, the workload of a biotech website designer has peaks and valleys.
That said, I love biking, so about 9 months of the year you can find me pedaling around on local bike trails. I also keep Saturday mornings open for ‘creative play time’. I get to create anything I want as long as it’s not on my computer.
I’m gonna say my favorite type of projects are those where the founder is actively engaged in the process.
Everyone knows there are huge demands on a founder’s time. They typically can’t show up to every meeting, but their input is invaluable. Even highly nuanced projects go smoothly because they value their role in shaping their brand.