It began back in middle school when I was handed a punk rock mix tape which was played a thousand times growing up. Now, after listening to punk for over 20 years, I’ve realized this genre instilled certain ideologies in me; fight for a cause, question authority, and the DIY culture. Bringing these ideologies into my work, I’m using design to; address causes I care about, question existing systems, and to create my own projects.
My first “idea to launch”
A few years ago, I convinced three of my friends to head down to Alabama with me to make bicycles out of bamboo and then ride 3,000 miles from Greensboro, AL to San Francisco, CA to promote the Alabamboo initiative. It was my first side project, but it wasn’t my last.
A year after the bamboo bike ride, I went to Iceland to facilitate a mobile workshop that covered 300 miles on bikes. I thought I was hot shit coming off of the success of the bamboo bike ride. I was wrong. That project failed and because of this, I experienced a “confidence rut” that lasted five months which made me doubt my creativity, skills, and professional direction. I eventually did something about it. How does confidence play a role in our creative pursuits in our personal and professional life?
Prior to all of this, I wore a trucker’s hat and hauled a 20ft shipping container that we converted into a mobile design studio from Alabama to Rhode Island to Tennessee to Missouri. The truck’s engine blew up as we set forth towards California, shelving the project and wasting $20,000. It’s a long story. This project taught me the importance of betting small in my work.
Being a design nomad
In between all of that, I called ~20 places “home.” I lived out of a bag for about 3 years couch surfing, basement hopping, empty-bedroom squatting all over the US, jumping on opportunities and working on projects that started my career in social design. This allowed me to establish myself as a designer focused on using design for the greater good.
I’ve brought this experience into my collaboration with a wide range of clients. Working with both seasoned professionals and young college students has helped me connect, collaborate, and communicate with people from different backgrounds and years of experience.
Experiencing all of this (and more) has informed my work immensely; being resourceful, developing a better understanding of people and their needs, learning how to facilitate groups, the right and wrong ways of collaborating, asking better questions, connecting disparate ideas, the importance of prototyping, using the power of community both online and offline, and being bold in the work I do.
Principles that guide me: + Discovering innovative solutions for clients and the people they help + Encouraging people to use their talents to create positive change + Helping build confidence in others to do meaningful, more far-reaching work
A few of my collaborative projects and workshops have been featured in a number of publications and blogs;