Sandstorm Blog

Reilly
Jesse Lankford Promoted to Interaction Designer

Business is booming over here at Sandstorm, and we have been fortunate to grow the talents of our staff to meet the rising demand.

Jesse Lankford, a longtime Sandstormer, is enjoying the latest of a long line of promotions we have been celebrating. Jesse now holds the title Interaction Designer, putting him on the front lines of innovation in the realm of user experience.

In his new role, Jesse is responsible for the design of any interaction between a user and the client. As a result, he will be heavily involved in our web projects, designing customer journey flows and information architecture to ensure that the digital experiences we build for our clients are optimized for the user.

Beyond wireframing and organizing navigation structure for the web, Jesse’s visual design skills will still be put to good use on numerous logo, print, brand identity, and presentation projects.

One half of Sandstorm's “New York office,” Jesse works remotely from his Brooklyn apartment. He feeds his inspiration through his side project, Loosey Goosey, which seeks to promote the work of emerging artists. We are very excited to see what the future has in store. Congratulations, Jesse!

This blog was posted by Reilly on May 29, 2015.
Reilly Willson

About the Author

Reilly Willson

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Tracy
Senior Designer, Tracy Graham is now a Sandstormer

What can I possibly say about myself that hasn’t been said on the Sandstorm blog already...

Oh, I guess, anything and everything.

I’ve only been here a couple of days and it’s exciting to be the new guy. There is so much new information to absorb, so many names to remember, and so many personal settings on my new system, not to mention my chair, that I have to customize. But enough about that.

My high school journalism teacher used to tell “back in the day” stories, and I can work one of his quotes into a perfect intro here: “Who is Tracy Graham, and what are his credentials?”

Tracy Graham is me. I am a guy with a girls name, and I am the newest addition to the talented Sandstorm team, coming onboard as a Senior Designer. My background is an extensive blend of design and photography for print and web with experience in multiple industries.

I’m a designer, photographer, traveler, collector, listener, observer, dreamer and I’ve been raising a dog for the past 11 years. On most nights and weekends, if I’m not catching up on television and wondering what I want on my pizza (I prefer comedy and documentaries, and pepperoni and mushroom), I could be doing any one of the following: editing photos, planning my next adventure, hanging with friends and loved ones, making new friends, adding to my record collection, or riding my bike. Maybe all of those at the same time.

A few years back, a friend and I started an online music publication, so I’m constantly going to shows, taking pictures, and sometimes writing about music. It started as a way to attend shows for free, build a concert photography portfolio, meet people in the music and nightlife industry, and make awesome friends and memories. That soon turned into a lifestyle. In June of 2013, I moved to Milan, Italy for a year, traveled to 10 different countries, and took on design jobs and photo assignments while on the road. If you want to know more about me, feel free to poke around my website, tracygrahamcracker.com.

At Sandstorm, I’m here to produce awesome creative design work (for marketing and websites) and to share thoughts and ideas that help keep pushing the team to be the best. It’s a pleasure to be here amongst this team of bright and creative individuals.

 

This blog was posted by Tracy on April 17, 2015.
Tracy Graham

About the Author

Tracy Graham

Tracy is Senior Designer at Sandstorm. His background in design and photography for print and web with experience in multiple industries makes him a Swiss army knife of creative awesomeness.

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Michael
Chicago Web Development Firm Attends Drupal MidCamp

Sandstorm is proud to once again be involved in Drupal MidCamp. MidCamp (also known as the Midwest Drupal Camp) is an annual event held in Chicago that brings together people who use, develop, design, and support Drupal. This year’s MidCamp will be March 19-22, 2015 at the UIC Student Center East.

Sandstorm is a bronze sponsor this year, and we’ve got web developers, strategists, and web designers attending. Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking about user research techniques, which was a blast. This year I'm looking forward to mingling with regional Drupal developers and attending sessions on Drupal 8, "headless" Drupal, and automated testing.We're also on the look out for another solid Front End Developer here at Sandstorm. If that's you, get in touch.

You don't have to be a developer to get something out of MidCamp. There are plenty of promising sessions for people new to Drupal and project managers working with the CMS. We hope to see you there, and have some fun!

This blog was posted by Michael on March 13, 2015.
Michael Hartman

About the Author

Michael Hartman

As Sandstorm's Technology and Usability Director, Michael leads our developers and usability researchers in creating web sites and applications—both desktop and mobile—that embody our favorite blend: intuitive user experience and dynamic Drupal development.

Jason
Drupal Development Firm Hires Outstanding Senior System Architect

We’re super excited to introduce our new Senior System Architect, Sean Fuller. Sean has nearly 2 decades of web development, agency, and Drupal development experience. He's worked on projects for brands in a variety of verticals: insurance, beverages, fast food, animal welfare, chemicals, transportation, nonprofit, publications, and early childhood education. (Whew, that’s a lot!)

As a Senior System Architect, Sean will be a hands-on application and Drupal web developer as well as the technical lead on projects. He will work with design and strategy teams from kick off through launch; to plan, design and execute technical solutions for client projects.

Sean just recently re-entered a carnivorous lifestyle after 22 years of being a vegetarian. In 2015, he and his wife, Rachel, have trips planned to Panama, El Salvador, and Ireland. Their cat, Missy Elliecat, will have to stay home.

This blog was posted by Jason on January 14, 2015.
Jason Dabrowski

About the Author

Jason Dabrowski

Jason is one of Sandstorm’s designers and also helps keep the office running smoothly. As a veteran of the theatre—from acting to directing, lighting to set design—he knows the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Look for his unique voice on the blog.

Sandy
Digital Marketing Agency, Sandstorm Design's Holiday Party 2014

We have quite a few traditions at Sandstorm, and one of my favorites is our Holiday Party (and the 24 hours that follow it). After many years of battling calendars, I’ve discovered a human truth – just about everyone is free on Sunday night. I’ve also come to realize that the greatest gift I can give my amazing and hardworking team is the gift of… sleeping in.

So, we merged those ideas and another Sandstorm tradition was made! Every December we pick a Sunday night for our big bash at Chicago favorite, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (a group then goes out for an after party), and the following Monday we don’t open until 1pm. And when we do, it’s a comfy and casual pajama day – complete with pjs and slippers. With a cup of hot tea, sparkling lights and cookies galore, it’s the most wonderful (work) day of the year.

As we wrap up our “advent”ures for 2014, thank you for an awesome year of creativity, fun, growth, and collaboration! (And a special thanks to the Sandstorm team who worked together and managed to get everyone to write a blog post this year... anyone in digital marketing knows what a victory this is!)

It's been a great year. Thanks for being a part of it!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Sandstorm :)

 

 

This blog was posted by Sandy on December 24, 2014.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Jason
Learning and Sharing Drupal

I am quite proud (and excited) about our constant opportunities for employee learning and sharing here at Sandstorm. It’s even one of our core values. Having worked at other companies, learning and sharing are things that are in the “whenever we have time” category, which often translates into, well, NEVER.

In the past year, my Drupal expertise has grown exponentially thanks to AndyAndrew, and Will. I already considered myself Drupal-savvy, but I was introduced to new ways to author complex code when the editor “fixes” things that aren’t broken. Drew recently introduced me to posting a new and different kind of content, Events, and how it’s subtly different from other kinds of content that I’ve worked on before.

In addition to Drupal web development and administrative skills, we regularly have meetings where Sandy herself shares with us company overview information, such as how we’re doing year over year (spoiler, we’re doing awesome!) as well as new business or new client wins. For other companies this sort of information would be considered “unnecessary” for everyone outside the C-suite, but at Sandstorm there is a sense of trust, openness, and responsibility. It’s helpful and instructive to know where the ship is headed, not just that I’ve been rowing as fast as a I can. Understanding the work that’s happening outside of my tasks may not be directly applicable to my day to day, but it often makes things clearer and easier to understand, especially when things change.

This blog was posted by Jason on December 22, 2014.
Jason Dabrowski

About the Author

Jason Dabrowski

Jason is one of Sandstorm’s designers and also helps keep the office running smoothly. As a veteran of the theatre—from acting to directing, lighting to set design—he knows the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Look for his unique voice on the blog.

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Sandstormin’ from 800 Miles Away

Earlier this year, my roommates and I (one of whom is also a fellow Sandstormer) decided that we were ready for change. We looked to the east and found New York City calling our name. A few short months later we had our bags packed and were on the road leaving most of Chicago behind us. Fortunately for us, Sandstorm wasn’t quite ready to be done with with the two of us. They gave us the opportunity to stay a part of the web development and UX design team while working remotely from New York City. Not knowing exactly what we were in for, we were happy to stay on the team, so we said yes. Now only three short months, two internet routers, and one coffee maker later, I have to say that I couldn’t be happier that we did.

Leveraging Technology

My mornings start with me joining a Google Hangout for our agency status meeting where everyone in the office discusses our tasks for the day. As a UX designer I find it easier to talk through my ideas, which is why a typical day for me is filled with short 1-1 video meetings discussing tasks, brainstorming projects, and learning and sharing new ideas. Because we’re a digital marketing agency, a lot of our work can be viewed and shared online and through the cloud, which means I’m still constantly collaborating with other Sandstormers.

A Part of the Team

It’s safe to say that our fellow Sandstormers go out of their way to include my roommate and I in whatever it is that’s happening around the office that day. Whether it's ordering us food to celebrate a co-workers birthday, or pulling a video of us up on the laptop so that we can make an appearance in the annual Halloween photo, we’re never out of the loop of the day to day office activities. We’ve even joked about making a makeshift robot by attaching an iPad to to a stick to a Roomba so that we can roam around the office just like old times.

The past three months with Sandstorm have definitely been a journey. Getting through the initial hurdles of setting up a remote office can be a challenge. But once you get the technology to work and everything starts to flow smoothly again, you can pick up right where you left off. And if you get the chance to work with as great a team as ours at Sandstorm, it can feel like you never left.

This blog was posted by on December 21, 2014.
Jesse Lankford

About the Author

Jesse Lankford

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Amanda T
Strategists’ Day Out

As Nathan has already illustrated, we take having fun very seriously here at Sandstorm. One of my favorite memories of the past year came after a particularly busy month when Laura decided that the Strategy team would embark on a much-needed outing to decompress and get away from the office for a bit.

Since the Strategy team was all female at the time (until Reilly arrived!) we decided to get our nails done on a Friday afternoon. This was followed by cocktails and catch up. While the pampering was fun, the best part of the afternoon for me was sitting around a table with my fellow Sandstormers talking about everything from likes and dislikes, to family, to funny stories about bad dates. Around 6:00pm I realized that I had to leave because I had somewhere to be, and I was genuinely bummed to be going elsewhere.

When you work at a place as busy as Sandstorm, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day deliverables and strategic thinking. But when you have a team as tightly knit as we are, you truly consider them a second family. Outings like this one keep us all grounded and allow us to reconnect over a cocktail and have a good laugh, which, to me, is such an important part of the Sandstorm culture.

I can’t wait for our next outing. Don’t worry, Reilly, we’ll choose a different activity!

This blog was posted by Amanda T on December 17, 2014.
Amanda Tacker

About the Author

Amanda Tacker

Amanda is a Digital Strategist with several years of experience on both the agency and client sides, with both B2B and B2C clients.

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Reilly
Toys at Sandstorm

Check out our "Tchotchke Row."

This blog was posted by Reilly on December 17, 2014.
Reilly Willson

About the Author

Reilly Willson

Someday I'll need a real bio, but for now I'm busy creating awesomeness for our clients!

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Laura
My Absolutely Fantastic, Awesome, Rockstar Team

I am going to brag about my team of Strategists. They are, as Sandy would say, “Awesome!” Why, you ask, are they awesome? Well, first off they are extremely passionate about what they do and how they serve our company and our clients. There is never a day or assignment where they just “get something done.” They embrace our clients’ challenges as their own.

This passion helps ensure that our clients get the very best work possible, while also staying on time and on budget (which is no easy feat). They also are highly accountable and when there is a miscommunication or problem, they always think of how they could have avoided it and how they can mitigate it in the future.

Additionally, they are big sponges. Not only do they never shy away from a learning opportunity, but they run toward any opportunity that is presented. This means that we are always getting better, every single day.

Oh, did I mention that they are selfless, too? They are always willing to help out someone on the team, no matter how busy they are. They are always looking for ways to ensure the creative and development teams have the time and resources they need to do the best work possible.

They are extremely likable and talented individuals. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting all of them yet, you can get a feel for them here (Emily, Amanda, Kellye, Megan, and Reilly).

This blog was posted by Laura on December 15, 2014.
Laura Luckman Kelber

About the Author

Laura Luckman Kelber

Chief Strategy Officer, Laura Luckman Kelber leads Sandstorm's team of strategists with wisdom from her 20 years of marketing experience. Combining seemingly disparate ideas to solve a problem, Laura unearths unexpected insights to help clients’ fuel their success.

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