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Follow my adventures in art and design. Today might be shoemaking but, tomorrow's another day!

Developing New Pesticides

    There is a problem with the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture, and it is due to the fact that pesticides don’t just attack the nervous systems of insects but, the nervous systems of humans and other creatures as well. In an effort to kill and deter pests from ruining crops and to create higher profits for farmers who can often lose up to half or more of their crops each year, these chemical poisons have seen widespread use since the 1940s, much to the detriment of public health. Pesticides have caused respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, strokes[¹] and more but, today, chemists are now searching for safer answers in nature that might more targetedly affect insects and pests only.

   Some such naturally-occurring substances include Dihydrorotenone (C₂₃H₂₄O₆, a natural pesticide used on organic produce)[²], Beauveria bassiana (a fungus used to control bedbugs and mosquitoes), Isaria fumosorosea (a fungus used to control moths, aphids and mites), Steinernema feltiae (parasitic nematodes)[⁴] and Capsaicin (C18H27NO3)[⁵]. However, even though these are naturally-occurring, this does not mean they are entirely harm-free. Dihydrorotenone, for instance, while 5 to 8 times safer and less lethal than Rotenone, is still known to cause apoptosis, or cell death, in human plasma by causing stress to the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondrial dysfunction and even Parkinson’s Disease in mice subjected to long-term exposure.[²] It is possible then, that some of these natural biopesticides that are supposedly "better" than their chemical counterparts could one day go out of use as well.

   Meanwhile, on the not so other end of the spectrum, are the chemical pesticides that were so bad they’ve been banned for life. These include Toxaphene (C10H10Cl8), a chemical meant to control insects affecting cotton crops that ended up causing liver, kidney and nervous system damage along with thyroid cancer[³], Aldrin (C₁₂H₈Cl₆, an organochlorine insecticide and confirmed animal carcinogen with unknown relevance to humans), Endosulfan (C9H6Cl6O3S, a polychlorinated insecticide found to be extremely toxic to fish[⁸]), Endrin (C12H8Cl6O, a pesticide used to control insects, rodents and birds that when swallowed led to convulsions and death within minutes) [⁷,⁹] and, most infamously, DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane,  C14H9Cl5) whose toxicity was highlighted in the book Silent Spring and was banned by the EPA in 1972. The publicity surrounding DDT’s carcinogenic properties and long-lasting damage caused an uproar in the Sixties and Seventies that forever changed the regulations and legislation concerning pesticides.[⁶]

  There is another major issue with harmful chemical pesticides though, and that is them being banned in the United States and other developed countries and instead of them going away entirely, they simply relocate and market even harder to underdeveloped and developing countries where illiteracy rates and poverty are high. Even amongst those possessing a secondary education, attention to safety is shockingly low. In a poll amongst 97 pesticide applicators in Trinidad and Tobago, a whopping 81.4% admitted to rarely reading the application instructions or labels on the chemicals they used.[¹] Between 70 and 90% also reported not using respirators, face guards or safety goggles either.

   Clearly, there is still a ways to go with creating safe, easy to use and understand pest deterrents but, with new advances in science every day, we are hopefully getting closer.



[¹] de Verteuil, Priscilla, Isaac, Wendy-Ann P., Legall, George, “Risk Factors for Chronic and Acute Pesticide Poisoning among Waged and Licensed Farm Workers in Rural Trinidad and Tobago”

[²]Journal of Rural & Community Development. 2016, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p89-109. 21p.

Zhang, Jieyu, et al. "The Natural Pesticide Dihydrorotenone Induces Human Plasma Cell Apoptosis by Triggering Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Activating P38 Signaling Pathway." Plos ONE, vol. 8, no. 7, July 2013, pp. 1-9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069911.

[³]Quade, Vicki. "Congress Considers Ban of Hazardous Pesticide." American Bar Association Journal, vol. 68, no. 11, Nov. 1982, p. 1352. EBSCOhost,

[⁴] Buitenhuis, Rosemarije, et al. "How to Start with a Clean Crop: Biopesticide Dips Reduce Populations of Bemisia Tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) on Greenhouse Poinsettia Propagative Cuttings." Insects (2075-4450), vol. 7, no. 4, Dec. 2016, pp. 1-13. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3390/insects7040048.

[⁵] Villaverde, Juan José, et al. "Biopesticides from Natural Products: Current Development, Legislative Framework, and Future Trends." Bioresources, vol. 11, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 5618-5640. EBSCOhost, doi:10.15376/biores.11.2.Villaverde.

[⁶] Pérez, Silvia. "Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology." AMBIX, vol. 63, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 194-195. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00026980.2016.1227176.   

[⁷] Mokwunye, Idongesit U., et al. "Compliance of Agrochemical Marketers with Banned Cocoa Pesticides in Southwest Nigeria." ["USAGLAŠENOST PRODAVACA AGROHEMIKALIJA SA ZABRANJENIM PESTICIDIMA ZA KAKAO U JUGOZAPADNOJ NIGERIJI"]. Arab Universities Journal of Agricultural Sciences, vol. 59, no. 2, July 2014, pp. 161-174. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2298/JAS1402161M.

[⁸] National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=3224, (accessed May 3, 2017).  

[⁹] National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=71312306, (accessed May 3, 2017).  

Image source:


The Secret Isn't Snail Poo


With all the recent craze over charcoal peels,
Korean face masks and even acne-zapping light rays,
one thing holds true.
The secret isn't snail poo.


These products might clear out a few nose pores or leave us feeling fresh and hydrated for the hour but, without regulation of diet, hormones and stress, none of these will ever fully cure us of our acne or our obsession with quirky, new beauty trends.

Source: // *snails excrete waste through their slime which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties

Source: // *snails excrete waste through their slime which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties

As part of my recent Biochemical studies, I wrote a short research paper on the relationship between dairy consumption and acne production, as well as, a revelation on who the true pimple-provoking perps really are. Please enjoy.

The Role of Dairy in Acne Production

    While acne might commonly be considered a simple yet pesterous skin condition tragically affecting teenagers in the throes of puberty, it is more technically considered by experts a skin disease known as acne vulgaris[⁸] and can affect adults as well, with research showing 35% of women in their 30s, a quarter in their 40s, and 15% of those 50 or older battle breakouts due to hormones, stress, medical conditions and diet.[³] The four physical effects of this skin disease are open comedones, closed comedones, papules and pustules affecting the pilosebaceous units which consist of the hair follicle and surrounding sebaceous (sebum-producing) glands.[⁵,⁶] The major question being investigated here today is whether or not dairy could be a major acne-causing culprit in the diet, and, if so, how this relationship transpires.

    First, one should understand those four physical effects of acne. Comedones, here, is a word of Latin origin that means “clogged pore” as in, clogged with the bacteria P. acnes[⁸], and is the plural of the word comedo. A closed comedo appears as a tiny raised bump also known as a whitehead ‒ which is actually a bit of a misnomer being that a bump that actually appears white is more likely a pustule (pimple). To further prove this misnomer, an open comedo is a closed comedo that has erupted open causing a blackhead.[⁶] Therefore, if a blackhead is the result of a whitehead and a pustule the result of a papule, then a pustule is not the erupted form of a whitehead. The difference between comedones and papules and pustules is that, comedones are non-inflammatory and contain no liquid whilst papules and pustules are inflammatory and do contain liquid (pus). So, to quickly review, the teeny goosebump-like pores are closed comedones and any black-looking pores are open comedones, and these are merely clogged. Papules and pustules are larger, inflamed bumps that have become infected. Papules contain the liquid pus just below the skin and pustules contain it above. Contrary to popular belief though, greasy food doesn’t clog these pores, rather, spikes in blood sugar do.[³]

    Additionally, “several studies have shown a link between dairy products and pimples, perhaps because of the hormones that are present in these foods.”[³] This is because the hormones in cow's milk are intended to help raise strong, healthy calves, not humans, and the growth needs of a cow are quite different from that of a human. Oddly enough, however, the “consumption of low-fat / skim milk, but not full-fat milk, was positively associated with acne”[¹] in experiments, and “no significant difference was found among total dairy intake.”[¹] So, this likely means that the offending ingredient lies within the milk proteins as, without the fat, this and water are all that really remain in low-fat or skim milk. In fact, in Bodo C. Melnik’s paper “Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signalling in Acne Pathogenesis” the German researcher states, “The intake of abundant hyperglycemic carbohydrates, and high consumption of milk and dairy protein, predominantly during puberty ‒ a period of high insulin / IGF-1 (insulin growth factor 1) signaling ‒ may overactivate [mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1], which enhances [sebaceous gland cell] growth and [sterol regulatory element binding protein]-mediated sebaceous lipogenesis.”[²,⁴] Which all basically translates into the cells within the glands that produce the skin’s oil going into overgrowth and producing too much sebum.

    So, without question, scientists have found links between dairy and increased acne, as well as, a whole host of other problems. The advice of experts from the Nestlé Nutrition Institute is that “both, restriction of milk consumption or generation of less insulinotropic milk will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne.”[²] Therefore, if acne sufferers cut back on dairy, there is a strong chance, given their stress levels are under control and hormones normal, that they could see clearer skin.

    However, diet and acne don’t end there. Clearly, carbohydrates have even more influence in causing this hormone / hyperglycemia-induced skin disease but, how is it that milk proteins could raise glucose levels? Proteins becoming carbs? How does that work? Interestingly enough, it is the presence of both carbohydrates and protein in a food that causes this. Lean meat, without batter or sauce, would raise glucose levels only minimally because they contain very little carbohydrate.[⁹] Dairy and legumes, however, are protein-rich yet starchy foods and raise glucose levels considerably, meaning, there’s a chance replacing cow’s milk with soy milk could be just as influential in acne production. The big difference though, is that soy is known to raise estrogen hormone levels while it is the spikes in androgen hormone levels that result in acne during adolescence that soy does not raise.[⁷]

    So, in conclusion, dairy plays a factor but, too much testosterone and sweets are the real culprits. The hormones both naturally present and given to cows to force them to grow larger and faster get passed onto humans through dairy consumption, while the sugars in foods cause rises in insulin and IGF-1 leading to hyperglycemia which allows “activated androgen receptor[s] to trigger a chain of metabolic events, which” then leads to the production of excess sebum.[⁸] The positive relationship between dairy consumption and acne is, therefore, confirmed and, despite there being organic options that claim to contain no added hormones, the condition would best be mediated by reducing or eliminating dairy and refined carbohydrates completely and / or consulting with a doctor about stabilizing one’s hormone levels.[⁷]





¹ LaRosa, Caroline L., Quach, Kim A., Koons, Kirsten, Kunselman, Allen R., Zhu, Junjia, Thiboutot, Diane. M., Zaenglein, Andrea L.. “Consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne”

Science Direct.


² Clemens RA, Hernell O, Michaelsen KF. “Evidence for Acne-Promoting Effects of Milk and Other Insulinotropic Dairy Products”



³ Goldstein, Jennifer. “In The Clear”

Prevention. Oct2011, Vol. 63 Issue 10, p42-44. 2p.


⁴ Melnik, Bodo C. “Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signalling in Acne Pathogenesis”

    Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2012, Vol. 92 Issue 3, p228-231. 4p.


⁵ “Pilosebaceous Unit”

PubMed Health.


⁶ Moshell, Alan N.. “Skin Disorders”



⁷ Reactions/American Chemical Society. “What’s The Deal With Acne?”



⁸ Lynn, Darren D., Umari, Tamara, Dunnick, Cory A., Dellavalle, Robert P.. “The epidemiology of acne vulgaris in late adolescence”

PubMed Central Canada.


⁹ Harris, Nadia. “How Does Protein Affect Blood Sugar in Diabetics?”



Urban Creatives

A Slam Dunk for Diversity in Tech

Seriously, so proud of our team. We knocked it out of the park. We crossed the finish line like champs. These are all very different sports.

We really did it though. To quote our leader, Natalie Cofield, "We went from an idea to a fully executed and branded program in less than a month."

Urban Creatives Rapid Accelerator and Pitch Competition was created as a joint initiative between Urban Co-Lab and EBONY magazine as a means of promoting diversity in tech during SXSW 2017 in Austin, Texas. EBONY provided the $10,000 prize money and Urban Co-Lab (for whom I do graphic design) orchestrated the entire event.

I had to come up with the name, the website, the ads, all of the graphics and help review submissions. In the end, I got to see a major national publication repost my work and have it Snapchatted, Instagrammed and Facebooked all over the country. Even better, I got to see a very deserving startup win an outstanding $10,000 prize for all their hard work.

I could not be more proud of how the event turned out. It was tough but, we got it done.

For more information, check out these articles on EBONY and visit


A rain-filled week catching up with friends, ringing in the new year, hitting the town and eating a really good homemade brunch.


Hi everyone. I've been wanting to do another art review and upload a few pics from the amazing Kehinde Wiley show that was at The Modern Fort Worth last month but, that'll just have to get postponed a little longer. (Please take my word though that the show is a MUST see.) Back to current projects though, I moved down to Georgetown, Texas just over a month ago and I want to share some completed work now that it's safe to do so. (I'll update this post with even more things once other projects go to market as well.)

First up, the CrossOver desk by NextDesk. I didn't design this product but, I worked on all the renders and animations that went into this video that another coworker, Paul, edited together.

Fun, huh! I get such a kick out of that pointing hand for some reason.

Anyway, that was a cool project and great product for anyone who doesn't want to throw down big bucks on getting a full size electronic desk or replace their current desk. If that's you, the CrossOver is the perfect power adjustable hybrid.

Here are some other renders for NextDesk and EvoDesk too.

There's a 'shop (Photoshop) contest going on in response to Barbie's release of a new 'Game Developer Barbie' doll to create the best or funniest image. Considering EvoDesk has a model marketed as the best gaming desk around, I made this for Spindle360's copywriter, Emily, who then included it in one of her blog posts.

Coming soon will be two more products that I've had the opportunity to design completely on my own.

Stay tuned!

Product Photography

Hi all! So since most of what I do at Rustbelt is product photography for the tear sheet catalogs we send out and our own in-office inventory reference, I've decided to share some of my favorite shots. While I still have a ways to go, I've really enjoyed growing as a photographer and becoming more comfortable working with a professional camera. I shoot mostly on manual in natural lighting in our warehouse or on a backdrop.

New Branding

Graduation is nearing so everyone knows what that means! It's time to kick the networking into high gear. Hopefully my new business cards and resumes will land me all the right connections. Do you all agree? I also got to have some senior head shots taken recently and had a great time goofing around in front of the camera with a few of my best friends from school. Really going to miss this bunch! 

Please feel free to read through my resume and note that the business cards appear much more low-res here than they are in real life.

Recycling Rant

As I work on my thesis, I find myself more and more frustrated by a lack of resources so much so that it has become increasingly clear of just how important it is that I continue on this line of work and stand up and be the voice for which I'm searching. What I'm talking about is the use of mixed-material and non-recyclable packaging, namely, foil-lined paper, BoPET (commonly know by the trademark, Mylar) and expanded polystyrene/ PS foam (aka Styrofoam) and their negative effect on the planet by contributing to landfills through their inability to be composted or recycled.

Website after website praises Mylar for its flavor-protecting, light-blocking properties and tensile strength while doomsday blogs rave to their followers on self-packaging and food storage in preparation for the end (What..). What is this?! BoPET isn't recyclable! It doesn't go anywhere! It just ends up in landfills and yet it's frighteningly everywhere. Take a peek at a snack aisle. Bag after bag of chips are sealed in it. The candy bars by the register, BoPET! Even those "healthy" crackers and nuts, open the cardboard box and behold inside a BoPET bag. It's maddening to me that I can't find a single blog or website trashing the use of this stuff. Some offer the suggestion of sending them to Terracycle so that your used waste can be upcycled into tacky tote bags, but that's about it! (Sorry Terracycle, you're doing a great thing and your goal is pure, but never will I ever  be seen in the light of day with a Kool-Aid Jammers wallet or Capri-Sun backpack. A grocery tote maybe, but to wear one of these items seems to inadvertently advertise the brand as if one actually supports these businesses.) I won't. I can't.

I'm banning Mylar from my life and you should too. From this day on (well really, from like two weeks ago on) I will no longer be purchasing items packaged in the before-mentioned materials. Goodbye to Stash Tea, who uses foil-lined paper packets to seal their tea bags. Goodbye Pringles and your foil-lined cardboard tubes. Not that I purchase snacks much anyway, but it's time to take a stand. Understand that these materials can not be separated in the recycling process into their respective materials and continuously contribute to the pollution of our Earth through landfills. I will be moving to making my own healthy snacks at home and buying loose-leaf tea or tea in paper packets exclusively. If it can't be recycled or composted don't buy it! These are the changes we have to make to help reduce waste, and in return I think we'll find that we begin eating better as a latent benefit.

If you live in northern California, you are fortunate to live near the only three BoPET recycling centers in the country. There might also be a place in Massachusetts, but other than that the material is unacceptable by 99.99% of recycling centers so be thoughtful and precycle before you buy.  


Oh Dresden, you were gorgeous! Thank you for the Frauenkirche and trdelniks - my favorite cathedral of the trip and sweet and savory spiral pastries of deliciousness. I would love to popularize trdelniks in the U.S., but I'd probably be too much of a fatty-pants American and fill the centers with all sorts of fruit and cream cheese goodness.


This summer, while studying abroad in Germany, I made sure to stop by Milan to see if I could check out all the great design happenings of the city. Unfortunately for me, the only full day I had in the Italian fashion and design mecca was a Sunday so most of the design firms and galleries were closed. Also, unless you've got deep pockets and plan on shopping the day away, Milan is the kind of place you can see just about entirely by 5pm, but boy did I have the best pizza and gelato I will ever have in my life! That, the Duomo and the incredibly friendly au pair friend we made, I suppose made it all worth it. Until another time, Milan.