January 7, 2015
Four years ago I made a declaration: “I’m going to become a graphic designer.”
Easy to say; difficult to achieve. After four solid years of wading through the digital muck and scouring the vast reaches of the Google search bar, I’ve finally made that now dusty declaration a fresh new reality. Boasted loudly across an open stretch of fertile Pennsylvanian farmland, it feels worlds away from the exciting role that I now fill in the newly minted Fast Horse headquarters. When I first made my intentions known to the world, I knew the road from seasonal farm assistant to graphic designer wouldn’t be an easy one, but I’ve reduced the process to a relatively simple guide that starts with a quick look back at what it took to get me going in the first place.
I was born and raised in Wayne, Penn., famous for the King of Prussia Mall (for a while boasting the most square feet of retail-specific space of any mall in America) — and the dreadful winter that George Washington spent there during the winter of 1777, building log cabins and running out of socks in the rolling foothills that make up the valley surrounding my parents’ house.
2005-2010 looked something like this:
– Graduated college from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore with a BFA in painting.
– Graduated college again the following year from the same institution with a master’s in education.
– Removed myself from the land of “The Wire,” Old Bay Seasoning, and Cal Ripken, Jr. to spend some time out of the education system on a fruit- and vegetable-producing farm in southeast Pennsylvania, just 40 minutes away from my hometown.
That’s where I took my stance and made a statement that would shape the next four years and an untold number yet to come. Here’s a survivalist’s guide of what to bring with you when venturing out from farm to Fast Horse stable.
– Chip + Shoulder (exclusively in that order)
Set out with something to prove, even if it’s just to yourself. After years of thinking “I could do that” about other people’s work, I finally turned it into “I bet you couldn’t do that” and directed it inward.
– A lifestyle that allows for long nights and early mornings
I was lucky enough to be relatively unencumbered by others depending on me — namely, I have no pets or children to speak of, so if I need to stay up working and eating only cookies, it isn’t going to a problem for anyone but me.
– People who “get it”
There’s no proving ground of friendship quite like finding people who are comfortable with you bailing on plans because you have to “go home and draw.” I give tremendous credit to my girlfriend, my parents, and my close friends for putting up with my relative absenteeism during the first three years especially.
– The Internet
Seriously, thanks, Internet. I’ve described it several times before as “that friend who is infinitely more popular/intelligent than you and even though they could be out every night of the week they’re still down to just hang out, eat some pizza, and watch copious amounts of kitten videos.”
– New Place / New You
This is the last one. When you feel yourself getting close to where you need to be professionally, make a move to a place where you can thrive personally. For me that meant the Twin Cities, which are filled with potential and overflowing with interests that intersect with my own.
And I’ve found it anew in Fast Horse.
Time for a new declaration.