For the longest time, I didn’t want to identify myself as a designer. I’ve always wanted to be known as a techie – the geek girl who speaks tech. More specifically web tech. I’ve been building websites ever since I learnt HTML in school. But I learnt more than that back in school.
I have always been an extrovert – I love meeting people. So networking has always been my secret hobby. I suppose that’s the logical link to my choice of taking on an advanced diploma in data communications and networking. I had wanted to advance into a career of networking, working with servers when I graduated. But it was a time of the dot com bubble burst. Jobs available in the field I was interested in were sexist. I’d like to believe they are no longer sexist in the span of the last 20 years.
20 years ago was also when I met my first boyfriend. I clicked on his mIRC handle, Cornelius, and we started communicating daily since then. He was a visual communications student in a design school. As our relationship grew rather quickly, I began getting intrigued by his design works. I had taken the multimedia module during my diploma studies. Using the same software, I learnt more tools through his teachings than back in school.
We began creating design tennis together – either of us would start designing on a blank art board and pass the Photoshop file on to the other who would add onto the design, and continue the process of passing the file back and forth, until we agreed on what would be the final artwork. A couple of years later, we began working together, designing event posters for our friends who were event organisers.
Our first thousand-dollar project was a web page project. I was tasked to digitalise maps of countries with directories of wafer fab factories. I remember collecting the payment after completing the first web page. The finance girl passed me a stack of 50-dollar-bills. Our first graphic design project was for a wellness company. The final artwork was handed over to the client just before my boyfriend was due for the national service enlistment.
Weirdly, I started calling myself a project manager; the one who was doing everything besides the design or creative work. I totally dismissed the fact I was designing web pages in pure HTML and slicing through maps in Photoshop on the side.
My boyfriend sent his family to meet mine to ask for my hand in marriage, just before he ended his national service in December 2004. 3 years later in 2007, we became husband and wife. He was earning a handsome salary as a graphic designer for a hospitality brand. I was earning my shopping money as a customer service officer in a bank. All those times, we were still taking on side projects on top of our full-time jobs. In the same year we got married, I was hospitalised due to stress and exhaustion from work. My husband allowed me to quit my full-time job and continued taking on more design projects.
In 2008, I found myself dabbling with WordPress. After continuing my blog on its dot com, I purchased our first domain name and installed WordPress for the website. We officially incorporated our business in 2009. Since then, I have followed through updates of WordPress and confidently built websites for paid clients. When WooCommerce came in 2011, I was creating mock eCommerce websites. I began selling our own designed products in 2013. In that same year, we clinched our biggest website project for a now-defunct fashion brand.
Yet, I was still not identifying myself as a designer. Only now with more than a decade of experience and upskilling, I realised who I am. I’ve always been a techie with a specialisation in design. I can help fix issues with your WordPress websites and make them beautiful. I can also help you create your business visual brand or give it a fresh design update.
I am Zee, a brand designer specialising in WordPress websites.