Let’s Make Something Awesome Together in 2016!


Alright, I’m gonna give this New Year’s resolution thing a go. It is something that I’ve always kind of rejected because I feel that if you want to make a change in your life, just do it.

It has been a frustrating year of not getting the right clients and struggling with getting quality work. Or not getting payments in a timely manner without disputes.

I’ve been lucky to work for good friend’s brewery, Territorial Brewing Company, and it has been great seeing their growth over the last year. They’ve allowed me to develop skills and projects for them that I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity. From wooden tap handles to tradeshow displays and cornhole boards. I’m grateful for those opportunities with them, and plan to continue growing with them. They are one of the few clients that have been keeping me sane since deciding to be self-employed.

Another great opportunity this year was taking over as the Creative Director for Smash Magazine. They allowed me to fully re-design the entire brand of the company and turn it around into a magazine that people really want to pick up. The growth has been steady over the last 8 months, but hopefully in 2016, we will be able to get more local advertisers on board and start turning a profit.

A few good clients aside, it has been a difficult struggle, especially in Kalamazoo, to find clients that allow you to design with your own style and a decent rate. Most of the work I find pays little to nothing. Which even low paying work is hard to decline when you’ve been living on less than $800 per month. Half of those, “I’ve only got $500 in the budget for a website” are projects that should be billed at least $2,000 for the amount of work needed.

I’ve always lived by the motto of helping out the small guy, even if it means I take a cut into my own profits. That mindset has allowed me to put a lot of dedication into those client’s businesses, which in turn, allows them to succeed. But, I also need some success.

This town gets me down sometimes, when I see the same poor quality being accepted and reproduced time and time again. Be it with unoriginal, unimaginative and generic template work or designers not putting care and thought into the work they produce.

Every single client I take, gets 100% of my deepest thought, because if I didn’t believe in what they are doing, they would not be my client. Not only do I dive full in to what ever project I tackle, but I dive into those businesses that hire me. I want them to succeed as much as I want myself to succeed.

My process definitely takes longer than those reproducing work from templates. But, what they are getting is my devotion to research and listening to what they need. I’ll still put my individual spin on the design, but I also keep in mind their aesthetic, target audience and vision of their company. This means, not only will their design or branding be unique, but ultimately, it will be more successful because it fits within the client’s vision of their brand.

Many of my peers in this town don’t seem to have that overall experience or care to develop special and unique designs for their clients. I’ve lost out on too many projects to designers using templates for their clients. It is unacceptable and we need that to stop.

Nothing good comes out of careless design for money only. Yes, money is a goal, but never my number one concern. I want to see great design being sought after in this town and truly respected.

My process is driven from my diverse professional background. I’ve worked in; printing production, project management, sales, customer service, photography and design. Combining that with my education in advertising and business administration, the work that I produce has 15 years of experience in developing design that works, is reproducible in all mediums and has real thought behind it. The choice of colors, fonts, graphics is not random.

OK, so enough negative, those are just issues that I feel need to be aired.

So what does this mean for 2016? Well, during my search for quality clients that need (and appreciate) my expertise, I’ll be making it my goal to be more productive and self-sustaining. I’ve always struggled with self-promotion, but this year I’m going to be less anxious about selling myself as a designer. Not in an egotistical way, like many of my peers, but more in a friendship building way. I haven’t figured out what that means yet, or how I plan on accomplishing it.

My goal of being more productive will entail several things, most importantly though, creating more. Creating things I’m good at, or things I’d like to improve.

Two major areas that I’d like to upgrade is my public speaking and video editing/filming skills. This means that I’ll be looking into creating some kind of Youtube channel or vlogging. By setting this goal, it will force me to be on a schedule of creating something daily or weekly. I’d like to focus on “making something awesome together”. I’m aware that their are plenty of DIY and tutorial channels on Youtube but my plan is developing something unique based on my style and goals for the year.

At first glance, I’m thinking about WordPress and graphic design help, but I’d also like to examine some areas of growth in woodworking and generally making things. I’ve been inspired through many existing youtube channels such as, Diresta, Frank Howarth, and Steve Ramsey for making things and Casey Neistat has been a huge inspiration for deciding to become more productive in my life and developing better video skills.

Productivity and accountability is the goal and all I can say is…2016, I’m coming at you hard.