Can you tell me a little bit about your path to becoming a designer how you got where you are now?

I was always coloring and drawing as a young kid. Eventually those sketches turned into band logos and detailed comic book characters. When it was time for college, I went to ECU and majored in Communication Arts with emphasis in graphic design. While there, I took typography, design, and web design courses but balanced those with painting and illustration classes.

These skill sets lead me down a career path of splitting hairs between traditional visual design/art direction and UI design with front-end development. I can remember a time where I was one of the only designers that knew how to code in my area. This combination of skills definitely opened doors for me.

I have worked for web design shops as well as large and small ad agencies. In the fall of 2014, I needed a change and took a chance designing in-house for a tech-education start-up. There I crafted UI design, art directed and storyboarded videos, and worked with developers to design games for the digital curriculum math team. The company ended up going in a new direction and I’ve been freelancing since late 2015.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Every morning I help get my daughter out the door for school. I then get ready, make breakfast, and have coffee while I check email and my calendar. Then I get cranking on work for the day by 8:30 am.


Was there ever a big mistake you made early in your career and were able to take something valuable from it?

“They say” mistakes are never bad because you learn as much from them as your successes. I’m not sure I’ve made any huge mistakes, or at least none that I can recall. I did bounce around a number of different jobs within a few years in my early career but each of those led to new skill sets and a wider network.

If you could give one piece of advice to another designer or entrepreneur starting out, what would you say?

Make sure what you’re doing is really what you want to be doing. You can’t—or shouldn’t—half-ass your career. I believe you have to go all in because each day you will need to push yourself to be better than the previous day. That’s not easy.

“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.”

Can you remember one of the first things you designed or created that you were proud of?

While in high school, I was commissioned by my neighbor to draw four large illustrations for a local masonic temple. It was Lady Justice and a couple other symbolic figures. This was the first time I was paid for my art which was pretty cool. Looking back, I think that helped set my path to becoming a designer.

Why did you choose to make this design for The Designer Series and what does it mean to you?

I’ve heard this phrase mentioned a few times lately. Originally this was a political quote about what’s good for the group is good for the individual, or something like that. (Via wikipedia: improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy.)

As I thought about this project, and how Humbly Made was extending an arm out to other designers, it seemed to take on another meaning. It reminds me of the doctrine  “what goes around, comes around”.  High Tides Raise All Ships is a motivational quote reminding me to stay humble, help others, and push forward knowing that others will be there to raise you up when you need it. 

Can you talk a little bit about the process that you used to make this piece?

Like most projects, this began with pencil sketches of thumbnails to get basic ideas down. Then I selected a concept to run with and sketched a few versions before settling on the final direction.

One thing that derailed me early in this process was not sketching in the context of a shirt template. I thought my illustration was working but once I brought it into Illustrator within a shirt template, it was too complex and didn’t fit right within shirt perimeters. I simplified the illustration by tracing part of my drawing on the computer, then I textured it and made color variations last.

Are you working on any new projects right now?

This is the newest project! Last year, I did a year long personal project where I illustrated a poster based on heavy metal song lyrics, every week of 2015. (metalmotiv.com) I don’t see me doing something that intense this year but I do miss having that weekly spark of creativity.

2016 has a number of new clients and projects in the works.

Design bucket list time: is there one creative experience or project you'd love to work on in the next couple years that you have never had the chance to?

Well, I did that metal poster project last year. It was really cool to push myself and see what could be done within the constraints of a week, every week. I might have to do another variation on a weekly or monthly design project. Of course it’s also great to collaborate with other designers on projects—that’d be cool to do. Other than that, I’ve been toying with rebranding my portfolio under a new name. I hope to figure that out this year!