I didn't know until I began traveling that where I come from is remarkably boring. Everyone and their mother, literally, has been to my hometown on some indulgent vacation where Disney bartenders deliver Margaritas and Disney lifeguards watch the kids play in the pool underneath the Disney waterfall.
Many people I’ve met have been those kids or those parents and the idea that I actually grew up there is strange to them, but boring – been there, done that. Thankfully, this isn't really true. I grew up in Longwood, part of a small suburban county just northeast of Orlando. Longwood is not to be scoffed at: it is replete with its own Jai Alai stadium, greyhound track (just across from my high school), multiple malls, sink holes and lakes on every corner, constant 72 degrees springs where manatees congregate in winter, dramatic but non-threatening inland hurricanes, a shooting range, and now – since I've moved – a farmer's market. I was lucky to have so many weird things going on around me.
I didn't move far to go to college at the University of Florida in Gainesville, just two hours north of Longwood, but this place was incredibly different. Here there was a long-standing farmer’s market and liberal atmosphere as well as 45,000 other students, which makes food and beer cheap and an industry for recent grads improbable. I studied painting, art history, international relations, poetry, astrobiology, even backpacking, finally settling on Graphic Design as a way to marry my love for visual and written communication. Admittedly, design was at first a practical decision that quickly changed my life and opened my eyes to the world. As soon as I could, I traveled.
With support and mentorship from UF’s design professor Maria Rogal, I went to Mexico to collaborate on a design project with the Wixárika indidgenous community. I then moved to England, sight unseen, as the design department’s first foreign exchange student at the University of Leeds. I stayed on in London working at Fantastic Thinking, seeing Europe in short bursts on weekends and holidays. During my two years there I worked hard on websites for big brands and I picked up two new loves: one for all things digital and the other for an Englishman, a flash developer where I worked.
Englishman in tow I returned to the states, spent a few sunny months in Florida then moved to Toronto, sight unseen, in the midst of a brutal northern winter.
My first job in Toronto was for an ad agency (what a terrible idea). It didn’t take long to move on to a more inspiring environment at Ecentricarts where I worked for non-profits and arts and cultural institutions like Kids Help Phone, elated to be able to use design in a more meaningful capacity.
In July of 2010 I decided that to really grow the skills that I wanted to focus on, namely writing, art, and illustration in addition to design, I needed to become my own boss. I am now a freelance designer and independent artist, writer, and illustrator. My Englishman and I foster a cat while she waits for a permanent home and keeps me company in my office/studio where I write, paint, make music, animate, still make websites, and occasionally open up my space for the use of friends and colleagues.
I believe all my creative endeavors inform each other, but writing (and editing) is perhaps the most laborious thing I do. Putting precisely appropriate words together in the right order feels like organizing my mind (not an easy task). I’m now writing articles about design, a clear combination of my skillsets. I attend two writers groups – one of which I helped create out of thin air – full of astute people that critique my work every week. I’m grateful for this and for the ability to explore so many mutually-beneficial outlets of expression. I think my bent toward multiplicity has much to do with where I come from.
As one who can appreciate both raw creativity and organization, both business goals and the delight of artisanship, I have a unique perspective that I bring to my work – I combine words, images, technology, attention to detail, rhythm and craft to everything I do. All my endeavors are guided by a desire to do my best and bravest creative work.