Visiting Designer: Alice Lee

At Sequoia’s Creative Lab

One-by-one tomorrow’s most compelling designers have started to march through the doors of 2800 Sand Hill Road to join me for short-term, fast-paced, one-on-one, hands-on projects as Design Fellows and Visiting Designers at Sequoia’s Creative Lab. We draw, draft, code, write, and help each other get better. Sound interesting? Join us! Read all about the program here.

Alice Lee

Alice Lee was the very first Visiting Designer at the Sequoia Creative Lab (read more about the program, and meet the other designers here).

Alice has designed at Foursquare, Path, Mailbox and Dropboxbefore shifting to life as freelance designer and illustrator. I’ve been tracking Alice’s career since she was in college, after a chance meeting at Twitter (thx @jess). We reconnected through @designerfund (thx Enrique!). Alice was the perfect match for the design challenge at hand: A completely hand-drawn story experience for Start@AStartup.

Here’s a look at some of her portfolio work: Spoiler — the first one is made entirely from LEGOS!!!!

Getting started

To get ready, I cleaned out an old Sequoia office and turned it into a den of creativity. I set-dressed the desks with art, design and copy books that might inspire and delight. I printed out the baseline/bedrock creative work I had produced for the new content strategy for Sequoia and even picked up an old Dropbox mug as a little inside joke for Alice, who would be our first visiting designer. I finished hanging the last comp seconds before she arrived.

Once in the room, we launched into the Draw Together process. The first step is to start with a pencil, and that’s exactly what we did.

Also, I had a special surprise guest up my sleeve: we weren’t just using real pencils, but also these:

Halfway through the day, Head of Product, Bill Morein from fiftythree.comstopped by to talk about MIX, Pencil and how to storyboard, sketch, and communicate via Paper. I felt like a talkshow host who books a surprise guest to delight the current, onstage guest… It was awesome to have a Head of Product show you how to best use the product you are currently using…

We loved the look of paper, and enjoyed trying MIX. After the meeting Alice and I set out to pay homage to its Paper’s alacrity and verve in our project.

And here’s where the Draw Together design process reached a beautiful peak — both Alice and I are very comfortable with drawing and painting, but we each had a little different take for the look and feel for the project. In a nutshell, my color was bold and her lines were clear. We took a little from me and a little from her and created the best of both for the look we wanted. The next step was to create a design framework and style guide.

To get there, we swapped secrets for the best watercolor and ink brushes on the Internet (honestly, Alice’s were WAY better than mine) and then we bought the very very best of the best for this project. You can too! Please don’t steal these from you friends — it’s well worth $8.00 to get them through legit channels.

What are they? These:

Find them here:

If you’ve never tried Kyle T Webster’s brushes, you are in for a treat. Dig in and enjoy. I bought everything on his site, and still spent less than two coffees and two The Rebel Within muffins atCraftsman and Wolves. It’s an old trick I learned in art school — if you can’t afford art supplies, skip lunch. Although now, luckily, I could probably afford both ☺

We then cranked on the illustrations:

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Start@AStartup: Your career can only move as fast as your company is growing.

By the end of her stay, we had created the whole story.

Yes, but was it fun?

Yup. We had a blast. Now lots of people say that they have fun working together, but we really did.

For this gif, Alice and I swap roles — I’m busy drawing a masterpiece at the Cintiq while she plays “Hovering Art Director.”

Find Alice on Twitter @byalicelee or here:

Meet the other Visiting Designers and Design Fellows from Sequoia’s Creative Lab.

Design Partner at Sequoia, Founder of Past: Twitter, Dreamworks. Guest lecturer at Stanford’s GSB &

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