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Interview with an open source visual designer, Fedora and Outreach Program for Women (OPW) intern
Heard of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women? Learn more today.
Starting this past December, the GNOME Outreach Program for Women (OPW) welcomed a new crop of promising young female contributors to several open source projects. These women are currently halfway through their internships, working to improve open source projects across a number of disciplines including code development, visual and UX design, internationalization, documentation, and community-building.
Marie Nordin is one of the OPW interns for the Fedora Project. She is the visual designer currently in charge of badge design for Fedora Badges, an open badges based web application that helps to encourage contributors in the Fedora community by awarding them with badges for their efforts. (For example, Marie is the proud recipient of the "Pixel Ninja" badge for her work on the Fedora Design team.) I interviewed Marie, and she shared how she came to open source, what open source projects she's currently involved with, and her advice for other young women interested in getting involved.
What does open source mean to you?
Open source to me means freely bringing beauty and knowledge into the world. When I create something that is beautiful, I am more than excited to let all people see it and to share in the knowledge it can provide.
When did you first learn about open source?
I first learned about open source in college when my computer crashed and my college roommate installed Ubuntu. What impressed me the most about using Ubuntu was the free software that was available. After being trained on Illustrator and Photoshop since the age of 14, I have to admit I was seriously confused using Inkscape and GIMP for the first time. But, I knew the value these programs held and after some effort I got the hang of them. Now I use Inkscape everyday.
How did you first get involved with open source?
My first open source project was designing a set of logos for FOSS@RIT and the FOSSBox (which are both located at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), my alma mater). FOSS@RIT is a lab located at RIT that focuses on educating students about and getting them involved in open source. During my time working with the lab, I also helped them design posters for conferences, local events, and slide decks.
How is your Open Source Outreach Program for Women internship going so far? What are you working on?
I am working on two things right now: guidelines and badges. The guidelines will be a standard for all artists and non-artists to use when creating artwork for the Fedora Badges project. Categories, color palettes, notes on typography, strokes, and the usage of the different reoccurring characters will all be outlined in the guide.
Eventually there will be a design resource page with the badge guidelines, templates, and fun badge content! I am also making badges... and it has been SO much fun illustrating. I have over 40 badge designs live on the Fedora Badges website. Including badges currently in the queue, that's 60+ badge designs in total (and still counting). My internship is going very well. I have been very productive and I have received positive feedback all around.
Would you recommend the Outreach Program for Women to other young women? If so, what advice do you have for applicants?
Yes, I would recommend the Outreach Program for Women to others! My advice is to get involved as early and as much as possible. I found the easiest way to do this was to make myself available on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) as much as possible.
Do you use open source tools in your work? Which ones?
Like I said, I use Inkscape everyday! Even after using Inkscape for 4+ years, I am still learning how to utilize all of the tools. There are a surprising amount of tutorials in existence and a lot of people who are willing to help you learn. I have not run across something I could not accomplish with Inkscape that I could accomplish with Illustrator. I also use GIMP and Colloquy. In my opinion all of these programs stand up to their commercial equivalents.
What's your advice for other young women looking to get involved in open source? Where should they start?
If you are just starting out, ladies, you should apply to be an OPW intern! Another good place to start is by finding a community of people who are doing open source and get to know them, whether it is in IRC or locally. Find a niche where your skills are needed and do great work.
Where can we see more of your work?