Meet the Polar Bear
Are you really a polar bear?
Well obviously I'm not an actual polar bear. I call myself that because I love cold weather, I love snow (and lots of it), I have never been one who likes summer. In fact, I tend to get a bit depressed in the summer, I can't stand the heat. But put me in some snow and 20 degree temperatures and I am happy as a clam. My apartment is always very cold in the summer, so bring a jacket if you plan on visiting.
What do you do when you're not designing stuff?
When my design day is done I can be found doing many different things. Most of the time I am gaming in World of Warcraft where I am the main tank in a guild called Warcraft (Khadgar/Alleria) - I play a Druid named Calevan. If I am not gaming, I am active in my church, the Northern Virginia Church of Christ, in our local singles ministry; try my best to be a big brother to our campus ministry and just spending time in worship and fellowship. I also enjoy spending time with my two Whippets, Tango and Kody.
Why did you become a graphic artist?
Way back when I was a kid, I loved to draw. I was drawing, painting, doodling, lots of art stuff. But then in the early 1980s the computer age came along and my Dad bought me one of the very first Macintosh computers. That pretty much killed my interest in art and design. Eventually I got into Information Technology as a career, did that for 18 years and then realized how much I hated it. But one of my responsibilities in my last IT job was acting as liaison between the IT Department and the Art Department. During that time I became good friends with two guys named Stephen and Rob. Seeing them do the awesome work they were doing inspired me to go back to school and pursue my true passion, which was always design. After I got laid off, the next day I was enrolled in classes at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
What is Pixelworx?
After graduating from school I really had nothing to show anyone for a job. So I decided to take a big risk and just launch my own design studio. I worked very hard at it, got a lot of clients and did a lot of awesome work. But my intention was never to run my own show for the rest of my life. So Pixelworx Idea Factory was my springboard, to build a portfolio and then land a job two or three years down the road. My plan worked perfectly and in April 2015 I was hired by one of my clients and in June 2015 Pixelworx closed its doors. In August 2017 I resurrected Pixelworx with an awesome new web design, because I am doing more freelancing work these days.
Do you have any advice for a designer just starting out?
Yes I do. First of all, get yourself onto the social sites: Behance, Dribbble, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and share share share everything you do - even if you think it's not great. Talk to people you don't know, don't be afraid to step into a conversation on twitter - introduce yourself to people. Second, learn and read and absorb everything you can get your hands on that has to do with the genre of design you're interested in, whether it's illustration, UI design, UX, visual design, etc. Some awesome resources are: InVision's Blog, InVision DesignTalks, Creative Mornings, UIdeo Design Talks. Just to name a few. Last, but not least, when working on your designs keep this in your head at all times: Keep it simple (stupid). Thanks to Rogie King for imparting that upon me when I first started out.
1989-2007 : Worked in Information Technology as a Systems Analyst and Administrator at the U.S. Naval Research Lab; Studio 405 and U.S. News and World Report magazine.
1989-2001 : Owner of a software company called Software Perspectives. Some notable products include: Hypermovie Player (the very first Quicktime movie player for Apple's Hypercard), Cambio, Relax and Stardrive.
2007-2012 : Attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, graduated with a degree in graphic design.
2012-2015 : Owner and principle of Pixelworx Idea Factory, my design studio specializing in branding, web design, UI/UX and illustration.
2014-Present : Lead User Interface and User Experience Designer for a startup called Whiteboard Applications, Inc. Working on making a killer app for workgroups and teams.
2015-Present : Lead Designer at Omnilert. Specializing in designing mobile apps to save lives in the event of an emergency; designing publications and all around awesome graphics.
About my Faith
I was raised in the Catholic church originally. When I was seven years old I became an altar boy and served the church for almost six years. I fell away from the church when I was a teenager after losing my grandfather, whom I was very close to. It wouldn't be until 1999 that I would rebuild my relationship with God, as a Catholic. In 2000 I had a calling from God, in the form of a very supernatural event, that led me to consider entering the Catholic priesthood. However, after spending time praying and meditating on it, I chose not to pursue that path - mainly because I felt God had given me gifts that would rarely, if ever, be used as a priest. In 2006 I left the Catholic church because I felt they didn't practice what they preached and I was scripture starved. I more or less wandered around the wilderness until 2015 when I met a guy named Aaron and he invited me to check out his church, the Northern Virginia Church of Christ. After visiting a service I was hooked - the people were so friendly and wanted to know all about me the minute they met me - it was like a family reunion of sorts. It was amazing. I began studying the bible and on July 16, 2015 I was baptized. In my first year as a disciple, I grew immensely, dealt with a lot of issues, but above all I persevered. God has shown me his grace and love, blessing me with a church, my dream job and the even greater blessing of finding my biological family.
A Special Note of Thanks
I would like to take this opportunity to thank some awesome people who helped me when I first started out as a graphic artist: Rob Cady, Brian Feister, Joel Glovier, Sean Kelley and last but not least, Rogie King. I give thanks to God for you guys taking the time to nurture and support me when I needed it most! You are what they call...the men!