Another day, another notification from a bank saying you owe them money for school loans. 2014 is the year I finally put an end to the calls, emails, and letters. As a full-time worker, my availibility for freelance is pretty much limited to nights and weekends, but it hasn't stopped me from trying to juggle as many projects as possible. (those school loans are pretty damn big) I've been finding myself gravitating towards big projects with startups that allow for me to do more than just web work, but also branding, illustration, and print collateral. It's been very inspiring to hear passionate pitch after passionate pitch from new and upcoming entrepeneurs.
In my freetime (mostly weekends) I work alongside developer-slash-code-magician, Joshua "Don't call me Doctor" Beckman on various side projects. These projects, most of the time, come from joking around or seeing that there is room to create something that hasn't been done yet. I design the UI/UX, as well as illustration, and branding, and Beckman brings it all to life through front and back-end development. We decided to house all of our creations under the name, Team Josh (pantents, trademarks, t-shirts, and catchphrase pending)
I came into Chicago-based, local news aggregation startup, Aggrego, as a UI/UX Designer, and have since transitioned to Lead Designer. Most of my work for Aggrego is a collection of interfaces for news-based, wordpress themes and mobile applications. I handle most branding efforts for our products as well.
I spent most of my childhood drawing: Power Rangers, Mortal Kombat Ninjas, Dragonball Z characters...drawing has always a big part of who I am. This passion for drawing eventually influenced my plans for a career in videogame design, character development, animation, and storyboarding. My enthusiasm for illustration dwindled, however, in college when I picked up graphic design. It has only been in recent years I have got back into it.
I began freelancing professionally after I left Power2Switch. In the beginning, I was overly eager (and admittedly desperate) for work and took anything I could get my hands on. This ultimately lead me to experiencing the highs and very lows of the job. I learned on the go how to manage clients, determine my rates, create contracts, and work within tight budgets. While I am most certainly grateful and appreciative of the experience I gained from my few months of work, I knew it wasn't for me. After a few months of freelancing, I set my eyes on full-time work.
I came into Chicago-based, Residential Energy Marketplace startup, Power2Switch, as an intern. It was my first real job after college. It was also my first real experience in web design (as I went to school for traditional graphic design) I adapted prety quickly to the new medium and moved into a full-time position as a designer/front-end developer after a month. Projects include: redesigning & developing the company website, email campaigns, business pitches, banner ads, and site/blog illustrations. I left Power2switch after it was acquired by rival energy retailer, Choose Energy, but continued to work with them in a freelance capacity.
After graduation, I found it difficult to land a job in graphic/print design. Most weren't hiring young guys like myself, and if they were, it was for peanuts/internships. I ended up reaching out to friends that have "succeeded" in their respective design careers in the real world and they all gave me the same answer: move to the city and learn how to code. I ended up packing my bags and moving to the Windy City of Chicago, Illinois where I spent the next three months in code-learning bootcamp. I eventually learned enough HTML/CSS, as well as some good UI/UX practices to land my first real job.
I ended up going into college majoring in traditional animation. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew I like to draw and tell stories, but never really gave it much thought of adding movement, voicework, etc. About a year into the program, and a few thousand drawings and a ball bounce animation later, I changed course. As much as I liked creating characters and storyboarding, it was all too much. I didn't have the patience to sit in basement at a light table for 10hrs at a time sketching walk cycles. I thought I'd switch programs in hopes I'd find something art-realted, but more suited for me. I changed to "Applied Media Arts," a curriculum of studio art, art history, and graphic design. I enjoyed graphic design the most. I loved how precise it was: there was rules and guidelines that you had to follow to be successful. I loved moving and organizing blocks and lines of typography in neat, structured-grids with perfect alignments. Naturally, I gravitated to print design; I studied editorial and publication layout extensively. Words like: kerning, bleeds, margins, gutters, folios, and negative-space became my fluent, second language. In addition to print design, I worked pretty heavily in coporate identity.
It's funny/sad looking back to being in high school because I was, unliked my peers (seemingly) quite unsure what I wanted to do with my life. I never pushed myself particularly hard in class: B's were satisfactory, I took extra study halls, I passed on challenging classes for their easier counterparts...I really didn't have a lot of passion for anything. I knew I liked to draw and write, but felt neither were anything I felt were more than hobbies. This lack of direction lead to me taking a pretty calculated set of classes my senior year: accounting, business ethics, marketing, public speaking...classes I felt would prepare me for some sort of career in business, which I considered, at the time, a safe, smart course of action for someone who didn't have one.
This was until, like most good stories begin, I met a girl, who inspired me to take my drawing "hobby" and make something out of it. I ended up, halfway through my senior year, abandoning the business ship in favor of one in art. I'd go on to apply, last minute, for art programs all over western Pennsylvania, eventually settling on the frozen tundra of Edinboro University.