Michelle Schulp Speaker Interview

Michelle Schulp

Michelle Schulp is an independent graphic designer based in Chicagoland (and soon to be relocating to Minneapolis). She was on the WordCamp Chicago organizing committee in 2012 and 2013, and lead organizer in 2014. She was formally schooled in many aspects of design including print, branding, packaging, etc., as well as Psychology and Sociology, all tying together in a love of How To Solve Problems. She is a lover of WordCamps and the WordPress community. You may have seen her work on the WordPress Template Hierarchy or her Git-Themed poetry. 😉

Michelle will be presenting Design Is In The Details: How Decisions Shape Communication.


Why do you use WordPress?

I started using WordPress because someone told me that it was easy for designers to learn. And at the beginning, it was kinda easy but kinda hard and scary… and then I discovered the WordPress community. Suddenly there was a world of resources available to me online and in-person to help me with my work. But more importantly, I was drawn to how passionate and helpful people are, and that more than anything is what makes me stay. That and it’s a pretty good user experience as far as CMSs go!

When and how did you start using WordPress?

I’d heard of it for a while, and had a little WordPress.com blog in 2009, but didn’t start building sites for other people until 2010, and didn’t get really serious about it until attending WordCamp Chicago in 2011.

What tips or resources would you recommend to a new WordPress user?

Most importantly, don’t be scared. Push yourself to keep learning as much as you can. I hear a lot of people say, “Oh I’m not ready to customize that/add plugins/build a child theme/write code/whatever.” There was a period where I felt the same way! But the only way you’ll learn is by doing it, breaking it, playing with it, taking it apart and putting it back together. That’s why local development environments (like DesktopServer, especially if you’re new to local development) are really important!

What advice would you give someone who’s building a business around WordPress design or development?

Grow your network as well as your skills. I can’t tell you how much work I get from referrals, and how much technical and business advice I get from my friends in the field. We all want to help each other succeed, even if we’re technically competitors. Oh, and don’t screw up your taxes, finances, and legal. Find someone that can help you with all that right away. Division of labor is there for a reason!

How do you stay informed about WordPress (news, tips, etc.)?

Twitter/Facebook/Skype, and occasionally diving into my Feedly feed for articles when I have time.

What’s a cool WordPress-based site you’ve seen recently?

I’m enjoying the workouts on HackerBody which is powered by WordPress.

What do you like most about WordCamps?

There is literally no better value for what you pay, and I’m not just talking what you get in the sessions. Go and you’ll be hooked, you’ll want to learn more, you’ll want to be involved, you’ll make great friends, you’ll get help, you’ll make connections… it can be anything you want it to be.

Where can we find you online?

Portfolio at Marktime Media, and talks/events/ blogs/geek-themed artwork at My Name Is Michelle.