WITH LOVE, FROM SHAWNA X
"Thanks love y'all! I've found the one!" "EVERYONE IS A FUCKIN TROLL." These are two things WNW Member #2851 Shawna X hears on the daily. That's because she's a full-time designer at OKCupid, the dating site and source for love data. Since it's Valentine's Day, we had to seek Shawna out for some dating advice. She's refreshingly honest, optimistic and reminds us that V-Day is "just another day after Friday the 13th." Thanks, Shawna!
Tell us about about yourself..who is Shawna X?
My name is Shawna X - originally from Portland, Oregon but I've spent a good chunk of time in Chicago. I moved to NYC on a whim and I think I have found my city, for now.
In the day time, I have worked in agencies, startups, and more recently started at OKCupid - though I'd rather be defined by nights/weekends. I'm a huge enthusiast of self-initiated projects - from making cards and flags to metalsmithing to running a vintage clothing shop and shooting lookbooks for all of these things. Though I've dabbled quite a bit, throughout the years, I've found my good days are when I have made a drawing I still like at the end of the day; I'm trying to see how to take my illustrations into a million other tangible mediums. In everything I do, I like exploring lighthearted themes from a curiously deviant perspective.
I am stoked for a few gallery showings I am working towards, as well as personal projects I am amped to get off of paper and into other mediums. My dream project is one where I can take my 2d work into an 'IRL' space, from packaging to fabric pattern to store front, all within the same brand. Currently my mindset is that if it exists, I can make it, or at least find help to do it. I'm a super fan of creators who can take their craft and push it outside of their comfort zone - that is something I aim for myself every day.
I also can't wait until it's a bit warmer so I can explore outside of this city and get lost and not lug around a giant blanket scarf.
Tell us about your transition to OKCupid - what were you doing before, why you decided to work there, and what you focus on.
I've worked mostly in ad agencies but always had a soft spot for the small, smart, startup types as I freelanced for them on the side. I wanted to try out working in-house as well as the world of digital product design, especially one that caters towards my favorite topic of all time (and yes I can discuss the concept of dating for hours.) For now I am helping with revamping the brand / visual language - but for the most part, I will be starting over from scratch.
What are some things you've learned about love through working there (does all that OKCupid data inform the work you do?) Any stories you can tell us?
I have a great time looking through user feedback. Some are extremely optimistic and positive ("thanks love y'all! I've found the one!") while the nasty comments are pretty hilarious still ("EVERYONE IS A FUCKIN TROLL.") We get emails of all the confirmed matches, which means people who have successfully found somebody from the site and have since disabled their account (Facebook official or OKCupid disable, its the same thing that makes you sure you're in a relationship.) I've really opened my eyes to the types of relationships out there and the different types of people who are engaged in them. People are complex beings - but there is someone for everyone. Working here has definitely opened my eyes and has helped inspire my own personal work.
Recently PBS came to film a segment on OKCupid and I successfully set up my roommate with a coworker's brother for their date which just aired and coincidentally they went to the same college and knew the same people.. OKCupid is honestly a magical place that just links people up whether it is a hookup, serious relationship or friendship.
Best online dating profile you've seen. Worst one.
Not sure I can do this one specifically :)
Any tips or advice to share about dating in NYC? I know you're originally from Portland so I'm curious how you would characterize the NYC dating scene vs. Portland's.
O man, NYC dating is ridiculous. I am relatively new to the city but from what I've gathered, there is someone for ANYONE here - and it's the same for jobs, hobbies, activities - anything you want, you have it. Also, in the city when NOBODY has time, honesty and knowing what you want is key. Too many people are trying to be someone they're not which leads to them wanting something they actually don't want. Being open and knowing what you are looking for from the get-go means more fun, less hurt, no lame games. Of course, keeping an open-mind and letting things flow through being in the present is equally important.
In Portland, things move a lot more leisurely - and I feel like dating is more of a slow process because we have time to figure shit out since we don't have to worry about much (because why would you when you live 20 minutes from being lost in any forest or river?) I have a feeling we're a bit more casual and relaxed about things - but then again early 20's dating game is another beast in itself.
Any first date recommendations?
First dates for me aren't ever serious and are always without pressure/assumptions because it's almost like an interview process for a job as a ride-tester at a new amusement park before it's opened to the public - you gotta test to see if the amusement park will have the rides you actually want to get on, but if there aren't any then there are tons of other amusement parks in the city (worst metaphor ever..!) But obviously it's important. I think a chill bar with good music that's not too loud, where you can have a good conversation, eat food if you are hungry - no pressure - and I prefer it around 8 in case if it sucks then you find something else to end the night with - or if it doesn't... :)
Going on a first date on Valentine's Day: a do or a don't?
Why not? This city is a lonely place. Also Valentine's day is just another day after Friday the 13th.