Stamen is a design and technology studio in San Francisco.

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Jan 30, 2012

How we grew in 2011

We added six(!) amazing people to our team last year, which brings us up to thirteen. As I've got two days left in the first month of 2012, I thought I'd take a crack at welcoming our new collaborators in public. The studio has a longish history of encouraging its members to turn their personal interests in to commercially relevant opportunities—sometimes we even say that this is what Stamen is for—and I'm excited to see what kind of impact our newest colleagues are going to have on Stamen output in the coming weeks, months and (if I'm lucky) years.

Bill Conneely is our new head of Operations and Finance. Formerly at the New York Times, he brings us the ability to look at the studio from a business perspective and keep things running and growing smoothly. I've always sworn that Stamen will never have an HR department, and I intend to keep that promise—but a team of 13 people with health insurance who participate in a profit sharing arrangement needs more structure than I'm good at maintaining, and Bill is heading that process.

George Oates comes to us from Flickr, where she was head designer, by way of the Internet Archive. I'll continue to be involved in all our projects as Creative Director, but we've grown to the point where we needed a cracking Art Director to oversee the look of things, and George is the best I know.

Michael Evans is a familiar face from our close involvement with Code for America, who started life in our studio (which seemed awfully large at the time, though this is changing as we fill in and the plants get bigger). He's working closely with Stamen partner and CTO Mike Migurski on the technical infrastructures that make everything else possible, and we're looking forward to helping with his work on the Open311 Dashboard he pioneered at CfA.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso is our first professional cartographer. We've been familiar with his work at National Geographic and The Washington Post for some time now, and we're proud to be added to the list of sponsors of his amazing Natural Earth Project.

We've hired our first trained geometer, cryptographer and locigican in Rachel Binx. She's been blogging about her work on projects like the MTV twitter trackers at bit over at, has changed her hair color twice since we met her, and has us dancing around the studio interacting with the Kinect experiments she developed at the Art & Code festival at Carnegie Mellon.

And last but not least (this list is alphabetical), Zach Watson came to us after a stint at Seed Media Group. We were familiar with his work from a project he took on with Stamen alum Sha Hwang on the Center for Urban Pedagogy's Envisioning Development project, and he's been mapping up a storm on projects for the California Health Care Foundation and some projects that Tim O'Reilly got a sneak peak at the other day.

I'm thrilled about all this, as you can probably imagine. We're able to engage at a whole different level than we could even a year ago. On the whole it feels like we're a more, well, professional group than we've ever been, in the sense that the studio these days feel less like a couple of guys smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in a room trying to figure out what to do next, and more like a real company that pays its bills on time and can think strategically about the present and the future. More of us are coming from places where this kind of work has been done before, people have actual qualifications to do math and cartography and art direction (unlike me), we have several people now who are familiar with the intense time demands of designing for a 24 hour news cycle.

My personal hope for 2012 is to better learn to get out of the way of this incredible group as it does its work, while continuing to lead the creative and business end of things. Having Bill and George, in particular, in Director-level positions means that there are even more parts of the business I can know are being handled, which frees me up to do more of what I like to do.

I'm really looking forward to it!