As you recall Alan Okamura said, do your work and then do one a little bit more. These days if you want to stand out you don’t just have to just be good you have to have a bit of something more.
There were two people in my career path that influenced me and helped guide me the most. Rich Novak from NHS (Novak, Haut and Shuirman) founders of Santa Cruz Skateboards and Independent Trucks… as well as, Russell Leong an instructor at San Jose State University. Because he saw that the work I was getting straight out of college was work even though it may not have been the norm. That was back in the early 80’s. Some of the details I didn’t mention because of course I had forgotten my presentation. While going to college I worked at the Santa Cruz Surf Shop as a buyer for clothing, creating all of the ads, flyers, window displays, and airbrushing surfboards. That is where I met Bob Hurley, who at the time ran Billabong USA before starting Hurley. Another key contact was Mark Miller who was a clothing rep for Instinct and Look Snowboards and hired me to do graphics for Look with Bert Lamar as the key skate/skate cross over. He eventually worked his way up to General Manager of DC Shoes. Other reps I had met became big players in brands like Sanuk and Quiksilver...
That is where it is important not to burn any bridges. You never know where someone will end up that can help you keep moving forward in your career or stop you dead in your tracks. These were the early years when surf and skate became it’s own industry. It was not just a fad, but a real lifestyle and surfers and skaters were actually owning and running companies that sold directly to surf shops and specialty retailers.
Some of my first big projects were started while working at the Surf Shop (started originally by the founders of NHS). My big start was working with Billabong that led to other fun projects like styling for an American Express surfing commercial that was filmed in Fiji and Santa Cruz. Though I didn’t get to go to Fiji a few people from Aptos got to go. Styling required me to get paid to go shopping and gather clothing for a surf trip and get clothes and brands that a real surfer would wear. That leads us to a career path a good friend of mind Cindy Whitehead’s does she coined the name “Sports Stylist®”. One of the other jobs in the action sports industry that I think is better than mind.
Here’s an example of something more. I had a presentation for Bucci Sunglasses doing a t-shirt design. I had an extra idea that I wasn’t sure about and put it at the bottom of my stack of rough drawings. It ended up being the pick of the meeting and became the branding logo for many years.
As I had mentioned I get up early well 4:20 am to be exact today. I got bakers hours from working on Beckmann’s Bread packaging years ago. Walking in to your art department yesterday and seeing the sea of computers at your school, I hope you appreciate the gift of technology you have and take advantage of it and the instructor you have that is teaching you. When I worked on the Beckmann’s project I had an Apple IIsi at the time was it was a killer little machine at $4,500.00 it only held 80 megabytes and when I hit save on the Beckmann’s artwork it took 20 minutes to save. Yes, 20 minutes which now probably takes 20 seconds and we roll our eyes at that. So this is getting long.
TMI I’ll break it down.
Skateboarder wanted to be around skateboarding. First job at NHS stuffing bearings into Road Rider 2’s at 2 cents a wheel. Packed and shipped skateboard gear, silkscreened skateboards. Helped around organizing the Surf Shop got hired worked there for 13 years started my business Maximum Impact Design opened an office at the Sash Mill for 8 years. Got kind of burned out not regulating holidays, weekends and life. Got a job at a trade show company in Campbell at GED General Exhibits and Displays. Kept business going but wanted regular hours and to try a real job so I thought. GED West was a 4-person office branched off from a large company in Chicago that did museum and tradeshow displays and graphics. (Flew to my interview to Chicago on a Thursday and started work on Friday the next day that is another story). Their big client at the time was Apple. Some of my projects were designing 90 x 100 foot banners and 3D cut out signage with 9 foot Apple letters and go to trade shows. You had to speck out type correctly and spell check! (Learned how to make big things and work with multiple vendors and people) Was on the phone with one measuring out a 3 story parking garage so I’d know where to put the wind cuts in the banner.
Next was a year at a small design company doing print projects with tight deadlines? (Lesson learned how to work under pressure)
Year 3, 1 year as North American Sales manager for Sessions. They didn’t have the budget to hire me in the art department. I helped hire and got to spend an hour in the art department a day. Made me miss where I wanted to be doing full time. I helped coordinate the first Snowboard Company to go to Gore in Maryland that is probably now a regular thing that they do. We got to check out how the product is made and why it is better than the other brands, each rep got to bring their best store buyer where again I meet owners of top retailers across the USA which ties things back into a full circle of great contacts.
Rockshox is looking for an art director and I get a call. Marketing director and cycling friend asks can you do print, trade show graphics, packaging and work with multiple vendors. Then, the gig at Giro and then back to my own company full time. (Rockshox was founded by Paul Turner Aptos High and then sold and moved to Sram in Chicago. Rockshox was located in Santa Cruz and when they moved, most went to work for Foxshox thus the great product and huge growth, note to self if you have a great company think twice about moving it or you'll lose key people. Not Paul he was out but the corporate folks that don't have a clue. It is about dollars and cents not people.)
What I do is a lot of work but fun work. The bonus is working with companies that have the same drive to grow and make things that they like and believe in. What I like best is getting to work on different things and not being told to focus on what is in your job description. I like to make things, do product graphics, make videos, work with type, and one thing I didn’t bring up is social media. Yes, you can get paid to do Facebook stuff. I have helped over 30 businesses big and small to start Facebook business pages. There are jobs to design the profile graphic and the timeline images. All of the photos that get posted, someone within a company or someone that knows how to tag photos and when to put them up has to do it. Who does those Twitter backgrounds and instagram posts. There is a job for that too.
Living in Santa Cruz you have the best of two worlds. One you live in a beautiful place and two you live near one of the most forward and influential valleys. Silicon Valley where companies like Apple, HP, Facebook, Netflix, have been founded. If I were to do it over I would consider interning at Apple, Pixar, Adobe or Lucas Films or at a company that you are interested in. Learning from the inside out is the best way to get your foot in the door so to speak. Take advantage of your student discounts when it comes to software and computers. The software companies truly try to help you out because it gets really expensive when you are a working professional.
OK this is now super long but if you are still with me. Thanks for reading and being very respectful yesterday. For that I'll give you these key links that will help you down the road. Thank your teachers most of all and parent Mary Ann Ransler for making the talks happen.
Always keep your portfolio updated. Don't get a big head. For the ladies it is a brofest out there. Don't get discouraged the boys take care of the boys since it is more comfortable. You'll have to work twice as hard to get to the same spot. No joke but such is life. You'll do fine.
Take photos of your work and document rough dates. Back up your work since it is the digital age. Invest in a small hard drive and save you stuff. Store it somewhere safe. Most of these are free. I recommend you grab one and so you can get your name as a place holder for future work. That way you'll have it when you are ready.
my Behance Behance.net Krop has a good design and job site listing Coroflot Here are a few links for inspiration: Dribbble is show and tell for designers, who share shots — small screenshots of the designs and applications they’re working on. Dribbble Smashing Magazine Logo Pond Look but don't copy that is the trick to design. Make it your own. The Dieline Typography dafont Free fonts designers can design and sell their own font
Here are some links I recommend to keep in contact with possible feature contacts:
Linkedin be picky you do not have to link in to everyone on the planet. Linkin with like minded individuals or professionals you want to keep in touch with for future references and contacts. FYI your friends parents probably have really cool jobs and you could learn a lot from asking them. In fact your own parent my have a killer job and you don't even think it's cool. My kids didn't appreciate all the cool swag and things I did until recently. Bring home t-shirts, tons of stickers, Chachkies from action sports trade shows. The best one ASR just closed after a 25 year run.
Digital life savers: Yousendit Send big files to your house or client if you need to send them electronically.
Dropbox I had it and would of been able to grab my presentation and show it if I'd moved it into the dropbox which I thought of but didn't. That won't happen again. If you click on that link I get some extra free space for the hook up or you can hit the link below.