Milan, Travel, & New York

Living in Italy, Exploring Europe, and Moving to Manhattan.


After living in Northern California and working at Adobe in San Francisco for over three years, my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to try living in a new city. New York was always the ultimate goal, but we felt it was an ideal time to try living in Europe for a while before getting back to work in the United States.

We decided to have our home base in Milan, which is a modern, stylish, and adorable Italian city. At this point, I can claim that I speak “conversational” Italian. “Fluent” is a bit of a stretch but I think I'll get there in a couple years. I love the passion, rhythm, and hand-gestures in the Italian language.

During my mini-sabbatical, (is that what we're going to call it?) I went to Berlin, Germany, where my mother was born, and to Greece, where my great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from. Apparently, his mother sent him to New York when he was 19 and he started working as a dishwasher before eventually becoming one of the first Greek attorneys in California. Unfortunately, the Great Depression caused some eventual struggle in that venture.

Anywho – beyond the travel and Italian immersion, I did manage to spend quite a bit of time on design / tech related work and study. First of all, I spent hours just recapping the timeline of everything that happened over the past three years at Adobe while working on Adobe Stock. My wiser, older self will try to document projects a bit more constantly and consistently in the future.

During this time, I also built the Adobe Stock for Framer X component to enable searching millions of photos and illustrations within the design canvas.

Studying Technical Concepts

What I didn't expect to do was spend so much time learning / sharpening technical skills. I started with front-end development work, like learning more about React and GraphQL. However, that lead into going deeper into JavaScript fundamentals and ultimately even deeper into core computer science concepts.

I tried to learn as much as I could about a few things that I take for granted. Things like, what exactly is a computer? I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I sometimes forget to focus on what exactly is going on around me. How do computers function, what really is the Internet, and how does it actually work. What is a web server, what is a load balancer, how are databases created, why use MongoDB versus Redis. I learned about basic algorithm concepts like logarithmic, constant, and linear time.

More importantly, I learned that Franciacorta is much better than Prosecco.

Web development

On the web development front, I learned about GraphQL, Gatsby, Contentful, Docker, JSON Web Tokens, authentication, and continuous integration.

There is always so much to learn in web development. It can be absolutely overwhelming. However, I get so much creative fulfillment by building my own sites, apps, or random projects like a Twilio texting service. The payoff is worth the struggle, although sometimes the struggle is all too real.

Technical skills have always been so empowering to me as a designer, whether for simple prototypes or building an actual functioning piece of software. It's also just fun. If you take a break. Take lots of breaks. Go for a walk. Talk to a human.

As of early November, New York is home for me. I love it here.