About me

This is Ricky Willis. He's drawing my portrait while we were hanging out at an art fair. He can tell you exactly how to get to any part of Chicago, and is renown for his scale models of water towers and is regularly commissioned to build models of local landmarks.

This is Ricky Willis. He's drawing my portrait while we were hanging out at an art fair. He can tell you exactly how to get to any part of Chicago, and is renown for his scale models of water towers and is regularly commissioned to build models of local landmarks.

I like to spend my free time volunteering.

I started volunteering in earnest because I felt I needed to balance the 9-5 with something more meaningful. It was important for me to find a charity that focused on a cause that I was personally passionate about.

Project Onward is a nonprofit art studio and gallery that supports the professional development of artists who have exceptional talents and face developmental and mental challenges. I started volunteering with Project Onward right after I moved to Chicago, and am currently serving as the Junior Board President. My personal contributions include keeping the artists company while they work, providing web design assistance, and organizing fundraising events.


Scored and slipped my scraps away to make these floral sculptures. They were about 5 inches in diameter.

Scored and slipped my scraps away to make these floral sculptures. They were about 5 inches in diameter.

I play with mud.

There's something wonderful about getting your hands literally dirty. I picked up ceramics while I was living in San Francisco and haven't been able to knock the habit. Creating functional pieces is the most satisfying to me, but I love building miniature sculptures from scraps (besides, I’m running out of storage room for platters and cups). I'm constantly learning new techniques, challenging myself to increase the quality of each piece I make, and slowly developing my own style.


I keep a stack of papers from my days in the newspaper world. It was such a bittersweet decision to switch industries, but I've been able to repurpose all of my journalistic skills and ethics with my transition into UX design.

I keep a stack of papers from my days in the newspaper world. It was such a bittersweet decision to switch industries, but I've been able to repurpose all of my journalistic skills and ethics with my transition into UX design.

My childhood dreams were to be a journalist and/or a teacher.

Who am I kidding? I still aspire to achieve these dreams — if only essence of them — and consider every career move through the lens of whether or not a role will allow me to serve my community, and give me the opportunity to learn from and help inspire others.

At the start of my career, I proudly served a total of six years in various newsrooms. Four of those years were with newspapers, during which time I had the honor of learning from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and even contributed to Pulitzer Prize-winning breaking news coverage in 2013 as part of the Denver Post staff.