My professional brand is inspired by my Irish Celtic heritage, which has always been a major part of my identity and life experiences. As a kid, Mom enrolled me in a traditional Irish Step Dance school, where I learned the invaluable skill of keeping my upper body completely still while my legs went sicko mode. She and I were regulars at the local Céilí meetups, the annual Irish festival, and the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. And—not to be a cliche, but—I would say that champ (mashed potatoes with green onion) is one of my signature dishes.
So, why a big red hand with a bone sticking out? The O'Neill story goes something like this: Our ancestor, Niall, was put into competition with his brothers to become the next high king of Ireland. The contest required the brothers to race from one island to another and stated that the first one of them to touch land would be the new king. When all of his brothers sabotaged him in the race, Niall cut off his own hand and threw it onto the island, thus making him the first to touch land.
Dramatic? Oh, definitely. It explains a lot about my family.
More myth than history, the story boils down to something that is essential to design process—creative problem solving. Could Niall have accepted the diss and given up the race? Sure. But he knew what was at stake and instead considered the parameters, thought on his feet, and tried something. I choose to imbue my work with those qualities of tenacity and unexpected solutions.