Written on Wednesday,
October 10th, 2012
at 11:13PM

Over a year ago Chris and I embarked upon the murky waters of the startup universe. I “toed the line” between running Wiseacre Digital and building a product with ChoreMonster for several months, until things turned a corner (i.e., ChoreMonster got venture funding). I packed my bags and waved goodbye to nearly a decade of being a freelancer indie designer. Recently an old graphic I created on Dribbble has been turned into a tshirt, and I thought “Maybe I could share some of the things I learned working for myself?”, where I succeeded and where I failed. This is by no means comprehensive of all the things you need to know when starting your own graphic design business, but I believe covers a great deal of things you need to be prepared for before and while you do. Don’t Be Desperate My introduction into the independent world of design (I know I’ve shared over and over my loathing of the term freelance, so I will not labor on the topic) was not voluntary. Panic was my suit, my state of being … Continue reading



Written on Tuesday,
August 28th, 2012
at 02:34PM

It was old and musty inside the withered cardboard box. It still carried the smell of my parents basement — a mix of mothballs and mildew. Inside it where the remnants of my childhood; old photos, some withering t-shirts with sweat-stained armpits and a few worn toys. As my mother was moving into an assisted living facility, the nearly forgotten artifacts of my kid-dome had to find a new home. My 11 year old son came into the basement and asked me what was in the box. After looking through some old photos, and making fun of my hair and clothing (I had to explain to him that those were headphones, not my hair) he saw one toy and made him curious: “What the heck is this?” (holding up brown plastic device) “Oh that? That’s a game device.” “You mean like my Didj?” “Well, not that cool. This could only play one thing game, football. You where the bold red line, you’d press the arrows to move side to side and forward and avoid getting stopped by those other red lines, and … Continue reading



Written on Monday,
March 19th, 2012
at 03:27AM

It’s somewhat common to write up a synopsis (aka “review” aka “opinion piece” aka “to do list”) of one’s experience after attending some group event with like-minded individuals.  While I’d like to say I’m more original than that, I’m not. A few days ago I arrived in beautiful Greenville (locally pronounced “Greenval” or also “Grnnvl” for those with brevity issues) to attend a small and motivated groups of designers, developers and creator of things for Greenville Grok. For the 99% of you who probably don’t know what a grok is, here’s a definition: “To grok is to intimately and completely share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity.” A small group of around 100 of us gathered in groups (which were broken into 4 smaller, randomized groups) where each of us where encouraged (and sometimes coerced) into sharing thoughts and ideas, participating in discussions and broadly finding the pulse of our tidy industry. It was quite unlike any conference (it was really more a rumpus) that I had been to, as it’s not about panels or … Continue reading



Written on Monday,
January 2nd, 2012
at 10:10PM

There comes a point as a business owner where the trade you learned (the talents you feel you have) slowly melt into the many other ingredients necessary to, well, feed your family. My full-headed vision of design stardom (of creating lasting, inspired works, and honestly and self-centeredly, gaining design fame — however shallow that is, but it’s the truth; a truth and desire which will ultimately lead to disingenuousness and a loss of the root purpose of design — which is that of the client and the audience in spite of ourselves; but I digress) got shuffled with the feet-thumping reality of running a real business. Somewhere along the line that myopic vision expanded. This isn’t so much a lament as it is a confession. My desire for perfection, for (marginal) originality and creativity simply met an impasse with the many other things I was required to do, until I no longer knew how to do any of them with great skill. I’m almost 40 and I feel that I can do nothing great, perhaps a few things well, and many things awfully. I’m still not … Continue reading



Written on Friday,
October 7th, 2011
at 01:50PM

Graphic design is as much a commodity as it is an elite institution. There are “famous” and heralded celebrities of the design world (David Carson, Paul Rand, Michael Beruit), who can do no design wrong; there are those highly respected, academically minded designers (Katherine McCoy, Steven Heller, Wolfgang Weingart) who challenge our concepts; and there are the “firms” of renown who win the awards and manage multi-million dollar contracts. But each “form” of designer has a language — that of our little design world. A vernacular (which is in itself apart of this world). A language now so void of meaning, that it must reinvent itself — back to the basics. As many irksome and overused terminologies as we have in the graphic design realm, my personal (least) favorite is the term : brand. A “brand” in our designer vernacular, might be defined as an identifiable imprint or symbol that specifies a company or product. Overall a harmless and true definition. Another, more precise definition might be that a brand is a unique, permanent, cultural icon — so much so … Continue reading