Maximum Impact Office
photo by r.r. jones.
I got an really nice email from a student in Canada asking about design. What I told him is to do what you love. You may have to do some work that is not exactly what you want to be doing in the beginning, but stay focused on what you want to be doing so you have a direction and a goal.
When I graduated from San Jose State in the spring of 1986 my graphic design teacher asked what I wanted to do when I graduated. I told her action sports graphics. She laughed as well as a bunch of students that were in my class. She said that would be fun but don't expect to make much money at it. I was a bit disappointed with her response but I knew that she was wrong. I'd been working at the Santa Cruz Surf Shop as a buyer, surfboard airbrusher and designing all the graphics while going to school. I met Bob Hurley who started Billabong in the US, and many up and coming surf brand founders. I was getting requests for designing t shirts and logo's for the surf, skate and emerging snowboard industry. I had another teacher ask me what I was going to do when I got out. I told him I guess I'll have to get a design job over the hill. (San Jose) He asked Why? You are already working and have so many connections through the surf shop. I liked his comments much better. I explained why I had changed career direction. He (Russell Leong) said, go the action sports direction since you have so many contacts and you're already doing it, if you need any help you can call me. Straight out of school I opened my own design business Maximum Impact Design. I ran it solo for eight years in Santa Cruz and had great success. The only problem I had was burn out. I was working 7 days a week and when it slowed I stressed about work and when I was busy I stressed about work. I got an offer to work with a trade show company and went for it. I had my weekends and holidays back. I kept my office open and worked at nights to keep my favorite clients for a year then I closed it and moved it home.
I still have my business which has been a great outlet. I've kept a ton of friends and contacts over the decades and I'm still doing action sports design as the art director at Giro. The path to life is not always straight it turns and bends and has many ups and downs. After a year at the trade show company which taught me how do work on large scale graphics and million dollar Apple Trade show booths, I worked at Session for a year, then a small design firm doing lots of short turnaround print work. I wanted to get back to doing strictly action sports and got a call from RockShox the bike suspension company. It wasn't exactly the sports field I knew but I grew to really enjoy it. Just when things were really going well they decided to move to Colorado. I declined to make the move. The only other company in town that would fit the bill was Giro. I got lucky and got the art diector job. I've been there for over 6 years and love what I do.
I'm forever thankful to Russell who gave me the advise to go with what I love. I in turn give the same advise to others.