Who the Hell is This Guy?
I remember at 5 years old watching cartoons from Japan (this predated “anime” being a household term) and being taken by the color, the text in the title sequences, the instrumentation of the music and, of course, the giant robots. It was exciting. It was unique. It was perfect. Every morning. 7-7:30am, and then off to 1st grade.
Since then I’ve never stopped thinking in relation to those very formative moments. Whether a color combination, an angle in a logo, or a score to promo video, I am always calling back to those moments. While life as an adult is far less exciting than that of a wide-eyed 5 year old, in my head I am still running though one of those very influential 22 minute segments. You may not see it directly in each design, but I can assure you it is in there.
Moving on. I absolutely sucked at school from about 3rd -12th grade. I tried to at least be in the second to fourth worst student range because I could go unnoticed and quietly snatch up some D’s. I should have failed out my senior year due to an abundant amount of truancy, but my English teacher decided her world was better off with me gone.
I took a year off, moved into Boston with 6 friends living in a 3 bedroom apartment. I have a picture somewhere of my room. It was a record player, a mattress on the floor and most hilariously a suitcase in the closet. It was a grand old time, getting into the Rathskeller underage, smoking cigarettes inside, working a dead end job at a bakery in Brookline. It was my first taste of freedom. Short lived though. We got evicted 6 months in because one of our roommates would play Biohazard records on 10 at 4am.
My mom convinced me to try college. I begrudgingly applied and surprisingly got accepted to one school, prison-in-disguise U-Mass Dartmouth. Surprisingly, I did not improve upon my study habits during my year of screwing around. I ended up majoring in Jerry Springer with a minor of Fluffernutters, grape soda and cartons of Camel Filters. One year in, I was politely asked to leave.
Dead end job. Dead end job. Dead end job.
While working my various and thankless 9-5s, 12-8s and 7-6s, I started messing around with music production, artwork, web design, animation. Anything to distract me or convince me that I was going to “make it.” My older and newer group of friends in the musical circle enjoyed some mild success, playing some pretty big shows, working with some talented artists and just having fun with the creative process. For those shows and albums, I was responsible for the creation of most of the production and all of the album covers and promo. The thought of being one dimensional…
In 2008, I found myself jobless, penniless and moving back in with mom at my grandmother’s former house in Wisconsin. This wasn’t how it was supposed to work. While from an ego standpoint it was rock bottom, it gave me some added financial freedom and more time to bury myself a variety of design and production skills.
Thank you forever, Mom.
After a long Wisconsin winter, I visited my father in California and in order to stay out there I enrolled at City College of San Fransisco and instead of changing directions and becoming an economist (I can barely count backwards from 20), I enrolled in the only world I knew. Design. Great courses, great professors, unlearning bad habits, learning sound ones. What an experience.
Thank you forever, Dad.
I wound up in Long Beach and successfully transferred into California State University and eventually landed in the BFA program which only let in something like 10% of applicants. I still feel like they let me in because I was basically a senior citizen in university years. Some unbelievably intense and comprehensive courses and some truly great professors (shout out to Mike Whitlow for eternity) that dealt in currency far more valuable than grades. Confidence. I graduated that place at age 39 with a 3.9GPA, thicker skin and a sharp skillset.
Fast forward to current day. I got laid off due to COVID-19 on March 16th, 2020 – 3 years and 2 days after I was hired. This time, though, I will not be retreating to the Midwest. That’s the difference in 2008 me and 2020 me. Confidence and experience and plenty of motivation to never live through another Wisconsin winter.
Thanks for reading. Come back any time.