After high school, I attended Bard College in upstate New York, where I studied philosophy and printmaking. It didn’t stick – I wanted to DO, not develop theoretical constructs about the principled development of hermeneutics.
So, after wandering around for a year, I moved over to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying printmaking. I learned a lot about good design, but also a lot about being a professional and running my own business: I designed posters for local music venues and bands to pay my rent. And I discovered that I really enjoy balancing technical and artistic challenges: I get unnaturally excited about bringing technique into service of vision. At the time this mostly revolved around the technical aspects of lithography and screen processing, but the principles I learned there have served me well since.
In 2000, I stopped being an employee and became my own boss. I started using the then-novel cascading style sheets (CSS) as a primary layout tool, and started embracing the document-object model for all websites. I also started doing color correction for art galleries and museums, helping translate their photography onto the web and into print.
Then, in 2005, I started using WordPress. Finally, someone had built a content management system (CMS) that was elegant on the back-end, and allowed me to hand control over content to clients. It still had a few years to go before it developed from blogging software into a full-fledged CMS, but it made everything so easy for my clients.
Today, WordPress is my go-to CMS, because with it I can solve most problems. But I do occasionally branch out to Expression Engine and Drupal.
I wrote a somewhat detailed case study on the Art in Print site, which I developed with my friend and colleague, Chris Palmatier. In case you were wondering about how a website goes from zero to live.
As a designer, I focus on problem solving. My client’s problems, not mine. While there is a lot to be said for “having a style,” that style rarely coincides with the client’s. When it does that’s great, but most of the time it is a disservice. Because of that approach I’ve been able to work with a wide range of clients, from unkempt rock bands to arts organizations to University departments.