Every design kid thinks he’ll finish school, get a job at a loft studio in NYC, and spend the rest of his days creating über-cool logos for athletic shoe companies and trendy nonprofits that pay unusually well. We find out pretty quick that is rarely the case, and it isn’t long before we discover the holes in our theories.
I graduated from Purdue University just a few months after two planes took down the World Trade Center towers. There were few jobs to be had at the time––let alone jobs that met my expectations. I went on dozens of interviews with the same result, “We love your work, but no one can hire right now. Sorry.”
In my efforts to exhaust every possible avenue, I set my sights on Design Forum in Dayton, OH. The previous year I had tried to get an internship with them, but I couldn’t even get an interview. I had nothing left to lose, so I shot them an email. Long story short, in a matter of seven days I had interviewed, accepted an unexpectedly quick offer, found an apartment, and moved to a city I had never even visited prior to then. It was a fantastic whirlwind.
Design Forum (now Interbrand Design Forum), is a retail design agency. To boil down their main disciplines: they create branded retail environments, which is considered everything a customer experiences with regard to stores, restaurants, etc. I never would have anticipated working in retail design, though my experience gained there has been invaluable. Nearly all of our clients were major national or international brands. Deadlines were never taken lightly. Budgets were guarded by account managing pit bulls. There were high expectations for the work and the client was always meant to be blown away. I worked with Design Forum from 2002 to 2005. When I chose to move on, it felt like a decade of experience.
I left Design Forum to experience the adventure of a start-up. Two directors of a national office and consumer product company had left their positions to form INNOHAÜS, a European-inspired office product development firm. Think “IKEA for your office.” We were only three people, so I got to experience design from every direction. Brand development, packaging, website design, and product design––and that was all before lunch. Though the product line didn’t survive due to investment issues, we created some killer stuff.
After freelancing for much of 2007, my career took another unexpected turn. Apex Community Church, my family’s home church, had grown from less than one hundred people in 2001 to over two thousand less than six years later. Apex was blessed with growth, but it was notorious for poor communication. After freelancing for the church for awhile, I was brought on staff to direct communications for the growing organization. Again I found myself bouncing among a variety of disciplines such as branding, web design, and writing. It was a fantastic opportunity to leverage my varied experiences and knowledge to bring clarity to a cause close to my heart. Now at nearly three thousand people in weekend services, Apex has branched out to become a network of churches and continues to follow communication and design standards set in place during my time on staff.
Presently, I find myself back in the client-consulting world with Sparkbox, and I couldn’t ask for a better fit. Web design is a playground for those that love a tight integration of content, technology, and design. This is the sort of thing that gets me up in the morning. The Sparkbox team is ridiculously talented, and I’m eager to see how we can push the industry forward as we serve up fresh design and development for our clients.