A long time ago in a galaxy far away… I made my first site using HTML 2.0 for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health’s Immunization Section. The site featured content from our award-winning print newsletters CIP News and UPDATE, both of which were written by health educators and laid out for print with Quark Xpress.

That first site was coded by hand, and it marked my formal exit from the analog world of creative communications.

Prior to this revealing experience, I had worked as a freelance writer/photographer for a number of print publications, including Petersen’s Photographic, Photo District News, LAN, and many others. You can learn more about me at jerrysierra.com.
By the time HTML 3.0 emerged, I embraced the wisdom of the new founding fathers; Tim Berners-Lee, Tog, Jakob Nielsen, David Siegel, Peter Morville, Science Officer Spock and others, and soon began to code and design what became historyofcuba.com

Developing the site felt like I was doing my duty as a citizen. Like I was a teacher enlightening my countrymen about our small neighbor island. There was a great deal of back-and-forth with site users, and this enticed me to look deeper at the content, to simplify the pages and add better navigation… to make improvements wherever necessary to provide for the needs of the user.

That site was a labor of love, a project through which I could teach and learn simultaneously. From the beginning, there was a lot of support from students, teachers and journalists. They appreciated my attempts to navigate Cuban history without slanting towards a pro or anti-Castro perspective.
The FCS Staff Directory
A mere blink of an eye later, as a battle worn Jedi facing down the darkness from within, I created the FCS Staff Directory Web App. This was a major evolutionary step for what was previously a PDF document for print.
With about 400 employees and numerous locations, the Family and Children’s Services (FCS) Section of the San Francisco Human Services Agency, wanted to improve access between staff, and other solutions had proved technically difficult to implement and expensive to maintain.
We made our Web App completely in-house, with no help from an understaffed and overworked IT Department. Their blessing was all we needed.
And by “we" I mean that the joy and burden of designing, coding and implementing fell on me. 
Using a mobile-first approach turned out to be more rewarding than I expected, and it has become my new approach.
Apes, Landscapes and Xenomorphs
Eventually, after years of personal and creative evolution, I ventured inward to focus on the scenes that appeared in my imagination. I began to “play” with toys, bringing them into new 2-dimmensional worlds… It was at this time that Unreality Studios emerged from my heart like a Xenomorph birthing out of an egghead astronaut.
The sensation was invigorating, as characters came to life in my viewfinder, new possibilities came to life in my head. I had always loved fantasy art, from the album covers by Roger Dean to the Lord of The Rings illustrations by the Brothers Hildebrandt.
Maybe I never stopped being a child. Maybe that’s why, often, children and pets seem wiser than their adults.
And so, with a child’s imagination and an adult’s set of tools, inconsistencies and memories, I began to transform plastic toys into actors capable of delivering a memorable dramatic experience.
Psychological Profile
I do enjoy the puzzle that is organizing data, chunking information and laying out web pages. Making information and ideas “visual” is as much fun as pizza.   (As evidence, I offer the Graffiti Wall from graffitisf.com) Making unreal images from real elements is even more fun than that.
Sorting out confusion is fun, though, paradoxically, I don’t really like traditional puzzles. Yet complex plot lines and unexpected plot twists attract me.  
At the same time, the visual fantasizing of the images on the site provides a much needed Escape From New York effect… a way to explore possibilities… to bring life to something imagined.
I appreciate playing Cecil B. DeMille in my way. The effort, preparation and execution of these works generates much appreciated therapeutic payback.  These issues are explored to some shocking conclusions in the Unreality Studios Manifesto at jerrysierra.com.
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