About Jennifer Gryczkowski
Hi! I'm Jenn. I know résumés can only tell you so much about a person. There's not much personality in a résumé. If I'm as flat and lifeless as a structured list, I won't be very useful in a creative field.
I create designs and illustrations for numerous media. I have a natural talent for "cute" illustrations, but it's not a limitation: I can create work in many styles. I am especially a fan of minimalist designs that are both modern and timeless. I am also a programmer; I have an affinity for puzzles and problem solving. I have experimented with video editing and animation, and the finished projects have been very well-liked.
I consider one of my greatest strengths to be my ability to communicate via writing. I write for fun and I have also done professional copy editing and writing. I have experience with technical writing and writing for the web.
I am a quick learner and can adapt easily. I graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a 3.9 GPA. My instructors appreciated that, even if I already knew a lot about the subject, I put effort into learning more and improving my skills. I was passionate about my studies and never turned in a project I could not be proud of.
Freelance Web Designer
During my many years as a web designer, I have developed multiple websites for which I designed the layouts, created the graphics, and coded the site utilizing HTML, CSS, content management systems, and other tools.
Sales & Marketing Intern — 2006
I improved the company's organization by indexing their client list, hardware inventory, and promotional items inventory using Excel spreadsheets. I also acted as an administrative assistant and event coordinator during my time there.
After being hired, my writing skills were recognized and put to use. I copy edited marketing documents that used too much jargon; my documents were much easier for the average person to read and understand. My boss said I was "the best writer" there.
Bay Engraving & Design
Graphic Designer — 2000–2001
I worked in Adobe Illustrator on Macs. I designed T-shirts, business cards, koozies, stickers, plaques, and other business items. We used screen printing, so my shirt designs were limited to at most three colors (depending on the client's preference). Clients were varied and included family reunions, local businesses and events, and companies such as Constellation Energy.
How I Work
I usually start by sketching things out. I end up with a lot of scribbles (the technical term is "thumbnails") in my notebooks. I try to get all my ideas onto paper.
I prefer to work in Adobe Illustrator when I can. For rycz.com, I used Illustrator as much as I could and did the finishing touches in Photoshop. I coded the site in Dreamweaver. I use Dreamweaver's code view; I prefer the colored tags in Dreamweaver to the non-colored tags in any text editor.
I test my websites in multiple browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome.
I've worked with HTML, XHTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, and Smarty. Whatever I don't know I can pick up quickly.
One of the most useful things I do is ask "What could go wrong?" I think of all the different inputs the interface may get from the user and plan accordingly. One of the most important aspects of coding is taking a user's garbage input and presenting a useful response. I'm skilled at not only foreseeing problems, but also solving problems.
Classes I've Taken
The University of Maryland, College Park
Computer Programming courses dealt mostly C and C++ (I later took a Java class at UTD).
Technical Writing was the first time I ever wrote an abstract. I also created a "manual" for the class: I wrote step-by-step instructions and used photographs I took myself to clearly explain how to install a CD-ROM drive.
The College of Southern Maryland
Art History I / Art History II were fonts of information. I've actually found what I learned in these classes to be quite useful. I think knowing what came before and why is very important for anyone in the creative field.
Drawing mostly focused on drawing from real life, dealing especially with issues such as perspective and foreshortening.
2D Design was a really fun class. It was a lot about taking simple lines and shapes (often without color) and making them pop due to their layout. My work really shined here.
The University of Texas at Dallas
Storyboarding was one of my favorite classes. It was nice to have a course that was all just draw, draw, draw. I created an entire world as well as a story for it (see The Land of the Dragon Kings in my gallery).
2D Traditional Animation was my other favorite class. Here I used traditional tools such as a lightbox, a pegboard, x-sheets, and a mounted camera to create pencil tests that I then animated in DigiCel Flipbook (see Animation in my gallery). It was a lot of fun to see my drawings come to life. I went the extra mile in really learning about timing and the need for exaggeration.
Character Design was a lot of fun. The instructor encouraged us to go to extremes first and then tone it down to where it needs to be later. Pushing designs and drawings to extremes can be harder for artists than keeping it mild, but staying at that middle point without exploring further can lead to bland results.
Interaction Design helped me learn a lot about designing for different media like mobile phones and kiosks. With as popular as mobile phones have become, it's important to be able to redesign websites to work on one. It's all about creating a clear, simple design that doesn't cost cell phone users a forture to download.
Advanced Design had me learn 90+ design techniques and I researched how they're used today in advertising, magazines, technology, and even areas such as furniture design. It's definitely informative to see not only design done right but also design gone wrong (often horribly, horribly wrong).
Business in ATEC was interesting and very different from my other classes. Every week there was a new case study to look over, and I learned a lot about why some creative ventures succeed and why others fail. Hasbro's POX was probably the most interesting; from the case study and researching it on my own I found that it didn't fail with its target demographic: children loved it. The problem was that Hasbro failed with the children's parents. It's a good lesson in considering all of the variables.
Web Writing was mostly about chunking articles into small paragraphs for use on the web. While in it I did a small interactive fiction project for fun.
Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature gave me a chance to really explore new areas with my writing. Rather than write an argumentative research paper, I took 'Option B' and wrote a short science fiction story. I combined different topics from both business class and current science articles; the instructor told me it was very original.
I enjoyed creating this portfolio. I think it's important for a website to look fun. Not only that, but trends are constantly changing; cute is always in style.
The graphics aren't the only thing I kept simple. When I make sites, I avoid WYSIWYG editors. My code is clean and works in multiple browsers. I'm not just guessing about this, either; I checked, my site is cross-browser compatible.
Gryczkowski \ˈgrich-kau̇-skē\, n., 1 a string of alphabetic characters that people find hard to pronounce. 2 a Polish surname.