Emily Haasch is the lead designer for Electric Objects, previous to that she was the lead designer at Cards Against Humanity in Chicago. She shares how she ended up in each of those roles, her experience leading design for a team so early on in her career and her process for tackling the different challenges she faces in her work now. Emily shares some great insight into carving your own path and making the most of every opportunity.
Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing right now.
I’m the lead designer for Electric Objects — which is a very elegant way of saying that I do a little bit of everything. I split my time between doing work for product (iOS and Android), work for web, and visual design of the brand itself. I occasionally get to design for hardware, which is a unique challenge in itself.
Previously you were the lead designer at Cards Against Humanity, how did you end up in that role?
Well, I’m from Chicago. I went to an art school in the city (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) where I spent a number of years studying graphic design, making art, creating weird little websites, learning furniture-making, and writing critical theory. I happened to go to an institution where I had both the blessing and curse of not really having a set degree path, majors, or grades. It allowed us as students to create a unique practice of our own, but it also made it a little difficult for me — who should I now work for, after four years of working for myself?
Concurrently, I was also pretty active in the design community in Chicago at the time. As I was nearing graduation, I had few colleagues pester me about a design role at Cards Against Humanity, which is based there. I wasn’t initially sure about it being the right “fit” — I was aware of and enjoyed the game, but didn’t consider myself a hardcore gamer of any sort.
Regardless, I said to myself, fuck it. I applied anyways.
A few hours later, Max Temkin, one of the founders of the game, emailed me back, and asked me to come in for an interview. Having no idea what I was doing, I immediately freaked out and kept him on hold for while, until I was able to finally come in for an interview like a week and a half later. I only remember sitting in CAH’s cramped leaky office, converted from an old pharmacy store in Logan Square, surrounded by Euro-style board games and Shawnimals plushies, and having a brief conversation about MMORPGs and InDesign. I decided it was really weird and took the job offer. From there it was sort of a “Wild West” type role. CAH had never had a designer before, and I was the third hire for this already successful company that still had a lot left to accomplish. It was a very strange and opportune chance to basically lead design at such a young age, and figure out how to build a process, established brand standards, and execute in so many different directions. Overall, it was a pretty fun ride — there were some growing pains at first, but I’d like to say I accomplished a lot by the time I left there.