WHAT DO YOU DO?
I specialize in holistic branding, where I help clients define and establish a strategic foundation and visual identity from the ground up. I also work on print collateral, packaging, products, campaigns—you name it! My clients include Warby Parker, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Kate Spade, Domino, Meetup, Rifle Paper Co., IDEO, and many more.
In addition to client projects, I design original products like the iconic Forever Gay Pin, which is sold at stockists including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Whitney Museum, and has raised over $7,500 for LGBTQ+ nonprofits.
Outside the studio, I’m an avid Instagrammer, compulsive traveler, and staunch Fleetwood Mac fan.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I grew up in Minnesota and studied graphic design and business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (Go Badgers!) On a whim before graduation I applied to Camp Firebelly, a sleepaway design apprenticeship at Firebelly Design in Chicago, and was accepted. After the program I ended up being offered an internship, which was an amazing experience that laid the foundation for my design philosophy and career. My first “real job" was as a graphic designer for the University of Chicago, then as a packaging and surface pattern designer at Crate & Barrel. I moved to New York in 2013 and worked for Gap for about a year before making the jump into self-employment. I had known that I wanted to run my own business for a while, but I freelanced at a few startups and agencies around the city before launching my studio.
HOW DO YOU STAND OUT IN YOUR FIELD?
In addition to my work—which I hope stands for itself 😅—I’m a very versatile and empathetic designer. I like to provide multiple options and work with my clients to identify the solution that works best for them and their business. I definitely have a lot of opinions, but I’m a good collaborator and don’t take my work *too* seriously, so I think I’m fairly easy to work with overall.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Branding and design for a new restaurant in L.A. (a total dream project), design for a Broadway production company, product design and photo art direction for a gifting and stationery brand, a few personal projects, and more products for my shop. I like to keep busy!
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
My work is thoughtful, clean, and bold, with a solid typographic foundation. I enjoy unexpected combinations and I take a “playful meets polished” approach to creative direction, injecting a unique personality into many of my brands and designs. My work for Food 4 Thot Podcast is a good example of this, mixing elevated aesthetic references with ridiculous subject matter and premium materials with a more playful design system.
WE ALL HAVE MULTIPLE SKILLS OR WORK IN VARIOUS INDUSTRIES, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD FOCUS ON MORE?
Too many! I’m trying to learn more about type design, motion, and photography. I’m also very interested in interiors, furniture, and design for physical spaces. I’m a big believer in the strength of generalists with a wide range of transferable skills, so I try not to worry about industry too much and just follow my interests.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Not enough time in the day! Balancing the admin and business side of running a studio with actual creative work is a constant struggle.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Project management, scheduling, and emailing.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Childhood me: Your differences are your strengths.
College me: No one has everything figured out.
Present me: Hire some help already!
Future me: ???
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Process. In my experience, once you reach a certain level, the success of a project becomes just as much about how you interact with the client and guide them to an appropriate solution as it does about the work itself. I’d love to learn more about client management, on-boarding, and presentation psychology from experts who have been creating and pitching work for decades.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
At the moment, I’m primarily looking for branding and campaign work for smart, passionate clients who understand the value of design. I’m particularly interested in projects with a spatial component, like branding for a boutique hotel or restaurant. I’d also LOVE to work on packaging for a fragrance or beauty brand—just think about all that foil!
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
I love collaborating with smart, passionate clients who are experts in their respective fields. Ideally, new clients have a solid business plan and initial thoughts about strategy and positioning, but that's not always the case. Above all, my best clients understand the value of branding and design (with a decent budget to dedicate to it 😉), trust in my work and the process, are excited to collaborate as equal partners.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
It really depends. A lot can vary based on the client/industry and project scope. For work that’s more executional or production-oriented, I charge $150 per hour. For concepting or branding projects with a defined scope, I charge a flat fee starting around $15k+. Occasionally I take on smaller or pro bono projects if it’s a cause I can really get behind, but at the end of the day I've got a business to run (and rent to pay)!
WHO IS A CREATIVE THAT HAS HELPED YOU ELEVATE YOUR WORK?
Too many to name them all, but the top two are definitely my friends Francisco Tirado (@fransquishco) and Justin J. Wee (@djdumpling). Both are fiercely talented creatives in their own right—an editor/writer and photographer, respectively—and together we have a weekly "accountability breakfast" where we recap our work, set goals, and hold each other accountable. We can get a little "tough love" at times, but it's hands-down the best part of my week.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Shoot me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Take breaks when you can :)
This member profile was originally published in July 2019.