I’m gonna be honest. I’ve been (and currently still am) dreading writing this post. Remember having to write personal essays in high school? Yeah, those were THE worst. How does one write about themselves? I haven’t quite figured that out so this should be interesting. I could talk about the things I like. I could list all my faves. I could keep it really simple and surface-level. But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to just list the things you could figure out by looking at my Instagram. I want to share my story with you. I’ll do my best not to get to rambly but I’m not making any promises.
The CliffsNotes Version – I grew up in a military family, moving just comes with the territory.
The Slightly Longer Version – I was born in Virginia, grew up in Arizona, finished high school in Texas, went to college in Georgia, moved to Oregon after graduation and then moved to Florida this past summer. Needless to say, I know my way around a U-Haul. I’ve moved apartments, houses and states. Okay so why is all that important? I asked myself that question about 87 times. Then I realized that all that moving around has so profoundly shaped who I am today and is a huge part of why I’ve been able to have the adventures I’ve had in my life.
I didn’t know I wanted to be a graphic designer until about 7th grade. I know, I know – what 7th grader actually knows what they want to be? Or if they do, what are the chances that it won’t change seven times by the time they’re graduating high school? It might seem weird but in 7th grade I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer. I didn’t really know what that meant until 9th grade though. Up until my freshman art class the extent of my designs were just doodles on binders and schoolwork and myself (my mom was not very happy about that – sorry mom). Now I’m in my freshman art class and we have to design an album cover. This is when I figured out what I wanted to do. What better way to combine two things I love – design and music. That project was the spark. I wanted to design album covers, to dive into the world of print even though it was a dying breed in the design world. Then we moved to Texas. Cue tires screeching.
Okay so the tires only screeched for a second. The move to Texas wasn’t bad, I told you I know my way around a U-Haul. I’m used to being the new kid so there’s no “deer-in-the-headlights” story for you. I missed my friends from back home but I had already accepted that the move was going to mean losing some friends. Distance doesn’t always make the heart go fonder. But I’m getting off track. Okay so I’m at the new school and I learn that they have a technical school you can take classes at (once you’re a junior) and you guessed it, they have a graphic design class. So junior year is here and I’m off to tech! Those last two years of high school were where I built my graphic design foundation. I learned the technical stuff, explored my aesthetic and stoked the fire that was now in my soul. I started building a portfolio (don’t ask to see it though, it’s in the vault) and applying to colleges. I still remember when I got the email from my Number 1 school. I scared Mr. U when I screamed. Long story short – hello, Savannah!
Not actually, that would be weird. Anyways, after graduation I was SCAD bound and nervous-excited. Now here’s where all that moving around helped me. Even though I was nervous about moving away for college I knew I’d be okay and I knew that my parents would be okay too. You see, my family has an uncanny ability to deal with distance. We’re used to being apart and it has only made our family stronger. I was scared but I was ready. So off to Georgia I went and well, I could write a novel about my time at SCAD but that’s a story for another time so I’ll keep it brief.
During my 4 years at SCAD I had a LOT of adventures. I turned 18 about a month after starting college, my family moved to California, I took an internship in Australia, met the love of my life, took another internship in DC, moved in with the love of my life and adopted a kitten. I learned so much about design and about myself. I made friendships that will last a billion lifetimes. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, there were plenty of times I wanted to give up. I missed my family, I doubted myself. College was one big season of change that I am forever grateful I had the chance to experience. Now, let’s circle back to that whole met the love of my life thing – it’s important to the rest of the story.
Emma and I met in History of Graphic Design. She was the cool kid with the note cards we all studied from and I was, according to her, the intimidating girl who sat in the back. She once complimented my hat trying to start a conversation but I wasn’t very chatty then so we didn’t actually meet until a year later. A mutual friend (who Emma had just moved in with) invited me to their first party at their apartment. There was a whole thing about a lava lamp. Anyways, we met and well the rest is history. We graduated from SCAD and the world was our oyster. We didn’t have jobs yet so we decided to pick a city and just go. That’s how we ended up on our first cross-country road trip to Portland, Oregon. Just us, our cat Chet and a U-Haul hitched to Emma’s Jetta (yes, it was as sketchy as you imagine). It took us a week which wouldn’t have been so bad if we weren’t driving separately but we eventually made it to the Pacific Northwest.
In case you’re wondering how we decided on Portland, we don’t really have a solid answer to that. We’d been watching a LOT of Portlandia and knew that people said it was “weird”. We got to Portland and fell absolutely in love. The people, the culture, the trees. We started freelancing while we were applying to job after job. We did the freelance thing, adventured till our feet hurt and we ran out of film. We had the most incredible time and we wouldn’t trade our time in Portland for anything. Portland will always have a piece of our hearts and hey, maybe one day we’ll have a house there to vacation at.
About 6 months after we got to Portland we started talking about what it’d be like to own our own design studio. At first it was just an idea, something that wouldn’t happen until much later in life – we had a 5-Year plan anyways. Fast forward to about 3 months before our lease was up and we have a “Let’s get real about some things.” talk. We talk about what we want and what we need. We talk about how yes we might be too young, too inexperienced to think we could start our own studio. We only just graduated from college, we haven’t had enough experience in the field and on and on. Then we decided to say, “Fuck it.” It didn’t matter what other people might think. It didn’t matter that there were a lot of odds stacked against us. We started looking at all the reasons this could work. We’re both graphic designers, we love working together, we have different skillsets so we can do more and we couldn’t imagine a more perfect life – living by the water and building a business together. So our lease ended and we were on our second cross-country road trip. Don’t worry, we learned from our last trip so no U-Haul hooked up to a Jetta. We still had to drive separate but hey, you win some you lose some.
Florida was always where we were going to end up. Emma’s family is here and they’re not like my family, distance doesn’t come with the Fivecoat territory. I knew it’d be hard knowing I was moving to a place I’d be forever. I might handle distance well but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It was a hard conversation with my parents. What a blessing and a curse to have raised me to be so independent, you know? They were sad but proud and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me, for everything they’ve taught me. I also can’t thank Emma enough for helping me realize what I needed – to feel like I have roots somewhere. I’ve moved around so much in my life that I developed a habit of never getting attached to places. Now that I’m in Florida and I know I’m not going to move to another state is an odd feeling – I was scared at first, terrified actually but knowing I can let myself get attached to this place is so surreal. Home has never been a physical place for me but it’s nice to feel like I’ve got roots somewhere.
So, if you’re still with me and I hope you are, I’ve got just a handful of words left. I’ve re-read this post 87 million times and I keep going back and forth about whether or not what I’ve written makes any sense. This post is supposed to let you get to know me a little better, to give you the “long story short” version of my story so far. There’s plenty I didn’t write about. I could’ve written about my struggles, the obstacles I’ve had to overcome but everyone has struggle in their life. If you take anything away from this semi-rambly post let is be this – I’m a work in progress and that’s okay. I’m still figuring out this thing called life. I will never be anything but completely honest in my posts, my work and my life. I’m lucky to have parents that raised me to have the courage to chase my dreams no matter where they take me. I’m lucky to have a girlfriend (future wife) that inspires me everyday. I’m lucky that I get to do what I love everyday and help people build their dream business. You gotta risk it to get the biscuit right?