I Like Being Part of A Team…
Early in my professional career I was lucky enough to be a one person creative department for Johnson International (now Johnson Financial Group). Managing some very large, sometimes scary projects pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to develop a voice advocating for my design principles. I was also fortunate to be mentored by a fantastic designer out of Chicago, Jack Weiss, who early on was hired to manage special projects. The most valuable lesson learned was how much easier it makes life to seek input from those that bring valuable insight to a common goal. After a few lessons learned, I applied the teamwork skills honed from my ball playing days to the creative process. I found a collective effort leads to solid communication tools that encourage successful marketing solutions.
An Unusual Start
I was hired at Johnson International straight out of college because I was the only person who brought a graphic design portfolio to the interview. It was technically a marketing position, but luckily they also needed someone to design ads and collateral material for the company. Within a year my job focus became less about organizing community events and more about designing ads, brochures, statement stuffers and annual reports. I was eventually named Graphic Design Director, where my duties expanded to managing everything under the creative umbrella including writing and directing commercials, managing video production for the annual all employee meeting and creating advertising campaigns for various facets of the company. Toward the end, I also managed signage placement and merchandising for the various bank locations.
In so many ways I owe a lot to this experience. However, after six years I needed to venture out and embrace opportunities outside of the financial industry. Hence…freelancing! This has shaped my design career and given me a well-rounded perspective on how to tackle a variety of design challenges. Even better, I’ve enjoyed getting to know many fascinating people in a variety of industries.
An experience worth noting involves ST Dystonia, an organization that advocated for people suffering with Spasmodic Torticollis (ST). Howard Thiel, the Director, and I started with a client/designer relationship and soon became fast friends. It was a great honor when Howard invited me to become a Board Member for the organization. After attending several annual symposiums and meeting so many members, I learned there are people making the most of life with physical and mental challenges that would make many of us cringe. It certainly shaped my perspective on life which I owe to my late friend. It’s amazing what we can get through with a positive outlook on life.
Outside of My Career
As previously mentioned, a big part of my life revolved around sports. My first love was playing baseball from a youngster through college. It became apparent that being a pro ballplayer wasn’t in the cards, so I found other ways to stay involved with the game. I played tournament softball with my brother for quite a few years. We had a blast and traveled our fair share. For years I coached youth basketball and baseball, including a five year stint at our local high school as the JV coach for the girls fast pitch program.
Right now it’s all about family. My girlfriend and I are raising her (our) granddaughter. What a blessing…she’s my li’l buddy. I’m also lucky to have incredible parents who raised my siblings and I to be close. When given a chance we like to travel, enjoy local restaurants and hang out with friends and family. The more laughs shared, the better!