In 1992 I graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and began my career working in a tiny, west-Miami print shop. I was hired to be a typesetter but my assignments varied day-to-day according to the needs of the business. One day I might be taking phone calls and managing the company's bank account. The next I might help run the offset-press and deliver printed materials. And on occasion I actually performed the duties for which I was hired.
Those first few months out of college weren't what I imagined but it was my first real job and it taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected.
After working a contract job for a short time I joined an apparel company working with a team of artists to design screen printed clothing. The company had licenses with Marvel and DC comics (amongst others) and it was our task to illustrate, ink, scan, and ultimately, digitize those pieces on a desktop PC.
Now I've always had artistic talent from an early age and my parents fostered those skills and encouraged me to seek a career in a relevant field. As I wasn't interested in becoming the next starving artist, I chose graphic design instead.
What I enjoyed most about the job was utilizing my artistic skills but perhaps more importantly, it was the first time I worked as part of a team. We shared ideas and tackled jobs together.
From there I joined a small real estate firm working in my first role as a traditional graphic designer. And it was my first opportunity to work as the lead designer creating printed materials such as brochures, advertisements and newsletters.
Because desktop publishing was relatively new when I went to college, I hadn't actually learned QuarkXPress, Photoshop or Illustrator. But in this job I was able to master all three.
The Dot Com Boom
When the internet exploded I taught myself HTML and took on contract assignments designing static websites. I had built three sites before I landed a full-time gig as a web designer working on emails, banners, and themed mini-sites.
After a few months, my hard work was appreciated with a promotion to art director. It was my first taste of managing a team of designers and I was constantly challenged with putting together production schedules, offering feedback and criticism on a subordinate's work, and ensuring deadlines were met at any cost. All the while balancing my own workload as the lead designer for future projects.
It wasn't easy. The job was demanding but there was something satisfying about leading a team to success. Unfortunately I wasn't long for that position. When the dot com bubble burst, myself and more than half the company were sent packing.
Back to Print
Work was scarce in those days and I returned to printed media in the early summer of 2002. At the time, my new employer farmed most of its work to an advertising firm in New York, and my role was to take on projects deemed too small for the agency to fulfill.
The job was easy in those early days. The workload was light and I was given ample time to stretch my creative muscles. I created the occasional postcard or flyer. I even contributed to the website's design while also creating emails and banners.
But as the company grew, and the workload was increasing, I was given the opportunity to found the company's first internal design department. And with the ad agency's services dismissed, our team took over the design and production for all ads, brochures, posters, catalogs, and packaging.
There was a lot of work and our team was small. But having served as an art director previously, my prior experience taught me how to better manage our team's resources, and ultimately, perform more successfully this time around.
A New Direction
I gave my all for nearly a decade but the recession bit hard into the company's bottom line and myself and most of middle-management were laid off.
After spending a few months traveling the world, I decided upon a new direction for myself. Since that time I've been self-employed, taking on contract jobs for various clients across the country. I've designed email templates and graphics for websites. I've created logos and flyers. Might I do something for your organization? Why not contact me and find out.