CF: tell us a bit about yourself, how did you become a graphic designer/creative director? how would you define your influences?
My entire creative life kind of came from growing up playing role playing games with friends, and later immersing myself in the Minneapolis hip-hop scene. From that came an ability to tell stories, drawing, and a sense of playfulness. From rapping, dancing and throwing shows in Minneapolis I learned about engaging in a community, presenting and collecting ideas to make things happen. Design kind of just happened for me by helping my friends in the scene create visual identities for themselves. Later on, I went back to school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, which focused on concept and process. I learned to experiment there.
I worked at a CD manufacturing company for a few years while in school which was really interesting and a fantastic time. I designed hundreds of incredibly different (and many horrible-looking) album packages back then, but I cut my teeth on jewel cases and digi-paks. After that, I started The Pressure as a freelance business but always had a day job – until a few months ago. I worked at Rhymesayers Entertainment for a while as an art director, but I really wasn’t ready yet. I decided I needed to learn more so moved to Philly from Minneapolis to work at the Branding / Ad agency 160over90. That place was amazing; I met a lot of great humans that were very influential on me and my process. Also, learning how to see a huge project through from concept to execution was a great experience. I learned to love presenting ideas to clients at 160, which was invaluable.
After that, Nike snatched me up and I hightailed it across the states to Portland, Oregon, where I worked in footwear design for Nike Sportswear for a while, and then headed over to Nike Global Brand Design. Nike is phenomenal in many ways: working with some of the best talent in the world, actually having a budget and having a really design-based culture is a blessing. I decided to strike out on my own in November of 2011, and I’m currently in the process of getting my shit together, getting a studio and really making it “official” as a design business. It’s all a process. Life is a process, and my constant enthusiasm and lust for creating comes from that process. Whew!
”Design kind of just happened for me by helping my friends in the Minneapolis hip-hop scene create visual identities for themselves“
CF: how important and how much of a learning experience was it to work at Nike’s Global Brand Design department? Which sort of projects were you involved with there?
I was only in Nike Global Brand Design for about 6 months. My team was focused on working on Nike’s presence in the London 2012 Olympics, Nike Digital Sport, and a lot of random stuff, like internal events. My biggest takeaway, besides meeting incredibly talented people that I had the honor of working with, was learning to set a higher bar for quality. I also got some great art direction experience, managed projects and worked with a global team.
CF: you’re obviously a multifaceted designer and you’ve worked on a host of very different projects. if you had to pick a favorite one, which would it be and why?
Honestly, I don’t think that I’ve created my favorite project yet. I really had fun doing the TRUST ME! exhibit, but I should have pushed it a lot further. Also, designing shoes was very rewarding. I think that my favorite work is work that resonates with others, work with value, and I’m not sure if that’s for us to judge.
CF: if you could soundtrack your work, what would you choose?
Oh jeez. That is the most difficult question ever.
”my favorite work is work that resonates with others, work with value, and I’m not sure if that’s for us to judge“
CF: what is your favorite thing about living in Portland?
Portland is awesome! I feel as though this place is like a petri dish for creativity. Like anything is possible. It’s got a strong sense of community, and a huge bookstore that I would live in if I had the chance. Also, the food here is just delicious. You can tell by the pounds I’ve put on since moving.
CF: what are you currently working on? what can you tell us about your future plans?
I’m currently working on some album packaging that’s inspired by Ballantine Book covers which will be fun. Also, working on the identity for a music festival, some other branding work, book design, editorial illustration and some random lettering projects. Doing more gallery shows and looking to curate some gallery shows this summer. I’ve got a site called Illustrated Etymology that I put together, bringing together my love words, collaboration and history. Doing some design talks and lectures that I’m looking forward to, also. Should be a fun year! Thanks so much for the interview!