I’ll tell one that my dad loves to tell… I grew up on a farm, and when I was younger we had cows, which I thought was really cool as a kid. Since we live in the country, we were also always passing cows grazing when we drove somewhere. Dad would try to teach me all the different breeds of cows we saw, but I only ever remembered one—Holsteins. They’re usually the white ones with black spots, so every time we’d pass a black and white cow, little me would scream “HOLSTEEEEEIN!” I’m not as excited about cows these days.
My brother and I are two and a half years apart, which has always been enough to make it not “cool” to hang out with each other. For a school assignment in elementary school, I accidentally wrote that I had a “little bother.” We found that paper years later and thought it was hilarious, so I started calling him that.
Everyone in my family is small, but he claims it’s been soooo much tougher on him as a guy. I think he’s got a bit of a complex about being a short guy.
In college I became really interested in fine art along with graphic design and ended up getting a 2D studio minor with a concentration in printmaking. I need a balance between hands-on art making and digital commercial design to be happy, because they accomplish different things for me. I love graphic design because it’s strategy-driven and about solving a very specific problem that addresses a need. It’s like working through a puzzle to find the best solution. When I create art with more traditional techniques, and with only myself to answer to, it’s about expression and working through things in my head that are independent of a client or problem. I think being an artist makes me a better designer and being a designer makes me a better artist.
Project Runway is my guilty pleasure TV series. I’ve seen every season (and am pretty excited for the new one to start). The challenge structure of the show is basically my ideal creative structure—you get a challenge, sometimes very specific or sometimes broad, then interpret it based on your own aesthetic and skills. Limitations make for a more interesting problem, because I have somewhere to start and something to push against.
My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, but he’s also just one of my favorite people in existence. He’s probably most generally known for Coraline and Stardust, but I love his short stories, the Sandman graphic novels, and Good Omens, which is my all-time favorite book. There’s a unique mix of reality and fantasy in his work that I really enjoy. I met him last summer at a reading and book signing in Lexington—he was very gracious and interesting, and even came around from the signing table and hugged me (in a non-creepy way) when I gave him a print [fangirl squeal]. Look him up! I highly recommend all of his work.
I like to be thorough when I make decisions, and sometimes this means I’m very indecisive for a while. My parents and I went on 12 separate college visits when I was in high school, including three visits to Miami before I made my decision. But when I finally decide, it’s because I feel strongly that it’s the right choice—I only applied to Miami.
Writing things out and making lists helps me when I approach a problem. I sketch as much with words as I do with images. It’s also an important part of my process to collect inspiration and create mood boards in order to clarify my ideas. This process of sketching and collecting is one of my favorite parts of the design process. Starting broad and then honing to a very specific solution is something I love about design.
• If you had unlimited resources for the next two years, what would you do? (After two years, you go back to your life as is now.)
I’ve lived in the Cincinnati area all my life, so I’d like to try living somewhere new, maybe the West Coast or Europe. I absolutely loved Paris when I visited, so I might move there for a while. I would want to take the two years to develop a personal project that I’m interested in. I’ve thought about trying to write and illustrate a children’s book. I’m also interested in pattern and fabric design and would like to explore that more.
• Is there some random thing you’ve never done that most people would be surprised and/or slightly appalled at? (For example, I’ve never been to Florida, which is kind of weird in general but even worse because my brother has lived there for 10 years.)
I don’t drink alcohol at all, which most people (especially in a creative field) think is really bizarre. I just kind of fundamentally don’t get it, and I’m always put off by the smell of every drink I’m even been near. Some people are very judgmental about it, but it’s a personal choice that I don’t think is all that strange. I don’t drink coffee either. (My beverage vice is Coca-Cola, if you’re interested.)
• Name one completely useless thing you’re really good at.
Accumulating tabs on my Internet browser, and going along with that…Pinterest (but that’s necessary because I’m a designer, right?).