Creative discipline from a technologist's perspective

I'm Allison House, an independent designer, visual artist, and educator.

A lot of people just call me House. So nice to meet you!

I spend my days jamming on 3D art, illustration, and education projects from my studio in Austin, Texas. If you’re into lo-fi geometric art with an aggressive neon streak, you'll dig my stuff.

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Fresh work

By the way, YOU can make stuff like this too! 

My big project right now is 3dfordesigners.com, an introductory 3D course for designers and illustrators.

With so many 3D-friendly platforms exploding right now (VR, AR, Unity), 3D is wide open to benefit from upcoming design talent.

If you have strong visual chops and want to dip a toe in the third dimension, this is for you.

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My Story

A Designer's journey from tech to 3D

A couple years ago, I had a "successful" (???) design career in technology. 

I was a product designer at Dropbox, where I was treated to the good life: on-site massages, three chef-prepared meals a day, infinite cocktails, weekend getaways to ski resorts, and a generous salary to keep me sitting pretty in one of the world's most expensive cities. 

That gig felt like a HUGE milestone. But at the same time, I felt like I was losing myself.

When I talked to my peers, we discussed the value of design almost exclusively through the lens of function or profitability. Everything I made was increasingly data-driven and featured the same inoffensive shade of blue or gray.

Trying to look busy on a chalkboard with my former manager, Soleio. This is an elaborate diagram mapping the future of Dropbox, but the cat was my only contribution.

Trying to look busy on a chalkboard with my former manager, Soleio. This is an elaborate diagram mapping the future of Dropbox, but the cat was my only contribution.

That's not unexpected for mid-stage product design, but I felt so inauthentic. I wasn't proud of the work I was doing. My rate of production dwindled.

Man. Where was my passion?

I spent my teenage years staying up until 5 AM engrossed in design and code. My dad turned off the router at night so I couldn't work, not knowing I stayed wide awake in the thralls of local development. I only slept after I climbed on the school bus at 6 AM.

Where did it go? The INTENSITY of that wonder and curiosity?

I thought it was me. I thought I'd lost it. Everyone around me was deeply passionate and I was... defective.

After I left Dropbox, I wanted to take action and prove myself wrong. To get cosmic and hungry and productive.

LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR.

A video posted by Allison House (@allisonhouse) on

This is the first thing I ever made in 3D. It's based on a tutorial from my friends Chris and Nick at Greyscalegorilla, which you can find here.

That was in mid-2014. I still think of it as the best day of my adult life. 

When I started learning 3D, the doors of possibility were THROWN open. An entire freakin' wellspring of creative energy was awakened. 

And, almost immediately, my own style emerged. I couldn't stop layering vivid, cowabunga colors over mellow, atmospheric vibes.

Later that summer, I was tapped to direct and animate a full-length music video for Tweedy's debut song, "Summer Noon".

If you want to learn more, I've done a handful of podcasts and Q&A interviews about my transition from product design to 3D. The newest ones are below.

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Fresh INTERVIEWS

That's kind of what this blog is about, y'know?

Feeling out our path, taking creative risks, and knocking it out of the park without taking it too seriously.

I get into specific tactics and proven strategies, but it's also an ongoing conversation about growth, meaning, and happiness.

I'm also on the road for speaking and education events a few times a year, where I show other creative people how totally not scary 3D can be. 

Here are some of my recent appearances.
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Fresh Talks

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Life Before 3D

A Very Brief History

I was one of the first designers at Dropbox, where I worked on growth, onboarding, and Dropbox for Business.  I also created Dropbox's Origins, a talk series about women who design best-in-class software.  

Before that, I was an early employee and the lead designer at two education startups, Treehouse and Codecademy.

Teaching is an ongoing and very big part of my life. I've developed and taught curricula on coding, digital literacy, and product design for the likes of GitHub, Kaplan, and Brit + Co.
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It's a Particle, It's a Wave

A little Trivia

My dad gifted me Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics as a teenager. It's still one of my favorite books!

My dad gifted me Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics as a teenager. It's still one of my favorite books!

I'm a lifelong learner and love to gather new skills and study extraordinary people. I believe: 

  1. Being exceptional is often just putting in more effort than anyone expects,
  2. Releasing our ego is a prerequisite for growth, and
  3. Life is too important to take seriously.

I'm of mixed Asian and European heritage and have a dog named Samantha. She's mixed, too!

My favorite movies are Nightcrawler, The Big LebowskiThe Matrix, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking BarrelsLost Highway, and The Graduate. When I'm under the weather or alone on a holiday, I watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

I started my first design company at 15 and recruited my developer friend Gary to help, but he never pulled his weight. Now he works at Facebook. Maybe I should write them a letter.

My work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, SPIN, Pitchfork, and many more. Select clients include Adobe, Dropbox, GitHub, Intel, MAXON, Microsoft, and The White House.

You can contact me here.*

*Bless you, tech recruiters, but I'm no longer a product designer. Please do not haunt my inbox like a disoriented Ghost of Career Past. Thank you!!