The road to what I do now has been a long, tough, exciting journey. I never thought about being a graphic designer when I was younger. Video production and design was a hobby, something I did with my friends in high school. I never would have guessed that my experiences would lead me to where I am today.
My adventure started in college, my first semester of my freshman year. I had the distinct pleasure of catching an eye infection, a rather serious one, called Acanthamoeba Keratitis. This infection took about a year to kick, and caused me to rethink my career plans. At the time I was debating about the Air Force, which would ultimately take me to NASA. Yup, that childhood dream still existed. Since they require impeccable vision I decided to declare an undecided major, thankfully Purdue had that option. A year later I declared a major of Film/Video Studies and found myself in a class called Technical Video Production.
This class taught you everything you would need to know about production like; how to coil a cable, what a tally light is, how a camera works, how signals are processed, and the 3 rules when on a tour. We had the best teacher, who ended up being a great mentor and friend. He provided us the opportunity to go work on actual projects in the live video industry through experiential learning opportunities...internships. Those internships are what put me on a path towards graphic design. I somehow ended up being on a list of graphic designers, and anytime a project came I was asked to help. Free credits towards my major? I couldn’t say no. Each project increased my thirst for learning more and more. This thirst is what got me continued work after college until I found my first full time job. I had the opportunity to work on graphics for acts such as, Brad Paisley, Donna Summer, Bruce Springsteen, O.A.R, Pope Benedict XVI, CMA Music Festival, and University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). All of which I started as an intern and worked my up the ladder. In fact as of May 2016 I have provided video services for UPenn for 9 years in a row, and work as the Creative Director. It was those internships and teacher that planted the idea that I could one day call myself a graphic designer.
Since then I have worked jobs that have provided me with equivalent knowledge and experience as my college degree. I haven’t had the time to stop and really think what life could have been. I have been addicted to the idea that I can create whatever my imagination comes up with. There is so much information and so many tools out there that can help me in this career. I have just been trying to access it all, and learn it all. I’ve spent the last 8 years living by this mantra co-written by myself and writer Jeff Spanke.
I like to use this as a metaphor for how I look at things. Being optimistic and seeing the value in each experience helps me connect to all the different projects I have encountered over the years. Each one both good and bad has shaped my skills and attitude by teaching me how to deal with the situation at hand. The biggest lesson i’ve learned is to plan for everything so you can work through any problems without skipping a beat. My mentor Bill would always say, “just be cool.” Remaining calm keeps everyone else calm and allows you to analyze and work towards a goal either by fixing a problem, or working under a tight deadline. Just have the confidence that you will get it done, and it will get done. “But with each brief departure, I return anew: fueled by the serenity of slower speeds…” or by the fact that I have finished another project with more knowledge and experience for the next.
And who knows what the future holds. As with any traveler, you never really know what is going to happen when you visit somewhere. You can research, plan, and desire to do something. But when the time comes, and you are in the moment, there is nothing more exciting than being dealt some cards that completely changes your experience. When that happens you look back on that moment and it feels magical, because no matter how hard you try you can not repeat it. So I work hard, play hard, and look at every instance as an opportunity to be dealt that magical hand. Because when it happens you need to realize its happening and accept it. I wouldn’t want to be caught looking down, and miss the road sign that read, “Next Exit ....”