As a kid in suburban California and Massachusetts, I did what suburban kids do: I skateboarded to pass the time, rode BMX with my friends, skied almost every weekend in the winter. With those sports, graphics play a huge role in distinguishing one piece of equipment from the next. If you’re visually inclined, you come to fetishize and personally identify with those objects and their design. To this day, if I see a skateboard, or bike part, or skis that I owned or knew, I’m awash with nostalgia and appreciation. Later I studied journalism, which in my early 20′s was my first exposure to a job called graphic design, as we’d pass off our copy to the people who stayed up all night making it ready to read. I started learning about design, and even trying my hand at it myself, making ads for the bead store where my girlfriend worked.
An internship at the National Design Museum in New York, though, was the point when I learned what graphic design could be. That designers weren’t just decorators, but visual authors themselves, and, truthfully, people whose job just seemed like fun. I realized the thing I had gravitated to naturally, the graphics that went with my recreation, my entertainment, was a rich world to explore: deeper and more nuanced than I could have imagined. I got an MFA in Design at Cranbrook, then went to work for Chronicle Books, where I grew enormously as a designer. In 2008, I started a studio with my partner Scott Thorpe, which in turn led to teaching at CCA. And the growth continues…