Student Experience | User Interface Design, Mary Colpo

By Mary Colpo June 28, 2016

Click here to learn more about BrainStation’s User Interface Design course.

A Bit About Me

I’m a music-loving, coffee-drinking, weird sock-wearing Vancouverite. I like to say I took the “scenic route” at the University of Alberta where I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree over 6 long years. But before judging, hold up! During that time, I managed to live abroad in Vienna and Hong Kong, visit 25 other countries, and get work experience in non-profit and advertising agency environments.

Since graduating in June 2014, I’ve worked in the technology industry as a Marketer. I love what I do and am always trying to expand my skill set outside of work and uncover new interests and passions. Taking the User Interface Design course at BrainStation was a way for me to broaden my knowledge around UI Design (duh) but also have an outlet for being creative and exploring projects outside of my day job. 

#Kerning and #Tracking


…Was my initial reaction when I learned about kerning and tracking in typography in my second week of the course. Until now, I considered myself to be rather detail-oriented and took pride in my knowledge (albeit limited) of serif and sans serif fonts. But this was a whole new level.

Turns out that kerning and tracking are majorly important in the art and science of creating and developing new typefaces. Kerning is “the spacing between specific letter forms and characters” and tracking refers to “a consistent degree of increase or decrease of space between letters or characters to affect density in a line or block of text.” Wait what? If you’re curious or confused, I definitely recommend a quick Google search for a visual. 

Learning about the anatomy of typefaces and fonts and the different elements of colour theory has definitely been my favourite aspects of the course thus far. I find the minute details so fascinating and have a much stronger appreciation for designers and creators. In an age of artificial intelligence and automation, it’s kind of awesome to be reminded that humans are still involved in overseeing these details that have a huge impact on how we perceive and see things in the world.


Me at BrainStation’s June Block Party!

Onwards and Upwards

Even though I’m only two weeks into the course, I’m surprised at how much I have learned so far. For starters, the learning environment is very conducive to collaboration and feedback because of the small class sizes. With our individual course projects, we are exposed to each of our backgrounds and design styles. It’s interesting to see what we can learn from each other, in addition to what our course instructor teaches us.

I get the sense that UI Design is just as much about self-teaching and experimentation as it is classroom learning. There’s only so much time that our instructor can spend showing us how to use Photoshop when there are so many other equally fascinating topics to cover. Outside of the classroom is really where you can flex your design muscles. This poses a challenge for me as we get further into the course as it seems I could sit for endless amounts of time fiddling with a certain typeface, selecting the “perfect font”, and adjusting sizes and ratios.

Overall, I’m having a great experience and am very excited for the weeks to come. Meeting new friends and immersing myself in all things UI Design – what a lovely way to spend the summer!

Mary is taking User Interface Design at BrainStation in Vancouver.

Mary is taking User Interface Design at BrainStation in Vancouver.

User Interface Design
1110 Hamilton Street