Better late than never. First off, thank you all very much for your birthday wishes; as simple as it is to send off a quick wall post on Facebook, or to shoot off a quick text, it’s always nice to know that people are thinking of you. Keeping with the tradition of the past couple birthdays of mine, I decided to sit down for a bit and take stock of the past year; this time around has been far and away more than I ever would have imagined it would be.
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Last September I started down the path of my final semester at CSULB, which included the planning of the graduating show of the BFA graphic design class of Fall 2011. While it could most definitely occupy several blog posts, I will say that the experience taught me a lot in terms of patience, humility, organization, and event planning / networking.
In October my awesome cousin Dara got married to her equally awesome fiancé Danny. The wedding featured horses, an officiant that had only gotten his papers the week before, and many drunk Asian relatives. An overall success, I think.
Around this time I was polishing up the projects of mine that would be featured in our graduating show; also as a class we were working on design projects for our final course in the BFA program. One of the final projects was a community service project that was undertaken with my good friends Spenser, Juan, and Julian (the latter two and I also took on the challenge of No Shave November; it was a really itchy month).
The project—Nice Cream—was initially concepted as a community infrastructure project, but quickly evolved into community improvement project. Using neighborhood clean-up as a jumping off point, we asked the question “what if we had an ice cream truck that instead of collecting cash for ice cream, collected trash?”
In weeks we had built out the identity and related collateral items—complete with ice cream man uniforms—and on one unseasonably sunny day in November, paid a visit to the Poly High neighborhood in Long Beach. It was definitely one of the most satisfying and exciting projects that I’ve had the privilege of working on, and is one that I’m always showcasing in job interviews. See and read more about Nice Cream here.
I also worked on a pretty exciting concept project in one of the classes taught by Tanya Cummings. The end result was a museum wayfinding and informational system that would use e-ink in the form of glasses. Utilizing eye tracking technology, museum-goers could activate various points of interest within the exhibit. Too bad I didn’t patent anything before Google announced their little glasses-based experiment…
I also produced an event in late November for the Los Angeles chapter of AIGA. Dubbed “Exposure”, it was the pilot event for a film series consisting of short films meant to inspire designers and like-minded creatives. Weeks were spent discovering material and getting in touch with filmmakers from around the world (England, Germany, Amsterdam, New York, and of course Los Angeles) in order to get them on board. Again, a huge lesson in event planning and networking that will no doubt prove invaluable.
Then in December came the graduating show itself. Months spent planning, scouting and securing a space to host it in, buying tons of supplies and equipment, calling and haggling with various city permit clerks (for weeks on end), finding printers, doing press checks, and somehow managing not to go completely insane were about to culminate in a three day presentation of work from the past two years of my—and all of my classmates’—design careers.
Producing a show with so many moving parts, with so many people involved with their skin in the game, all while trying to make it as good as possible, for as cheap as possible, and as impactful as possible is…well it’s tough. It’s a nerve racking, sleep obstructing, interpersonal stress inducing, all consuming endeavor that strains both your limits and the limits of those around you.
But—and this is the uplifting bit—it helps to be surrounded by a group of people that you’ve spent nearly two years of your life with, that you know for a fact will endeavor to work as hard as you, stay up as late as you, and be there to catch you when you start to stumble.
After the show was over, I decided to carry on an annual tradition and go up to San Francisco to see the presentations that a couple classes in the BFA program give up there every semester; a chance to unwind and hang out with friends.
In early February, Andrew Byrom—one of my former instructors at CSULB—got in touch asking if I might lend a hand with the photography for an event poster he was working on for AIGA Los Angeles. The final photograph (seen above) was the result of a little dumb luck, and a lot of time spent on top of a very windy hill in Long Beach.
Also in February, I started a project with my friend Steven Wood in response to an open brief by Barclays relating to “new electronic payment systems which could help instill an increased awareness of our personal finances”. The product that we ultimately came up with was dubbed the DebitBand (video above).
Steven and I were working simultaneously on two of the aspects of the project (I was coding and designing the mobile application while Steven was designing the motion graphics for the device), and were on track to submit everything to the competition. But then two things happened: I took a trip to New York, and Steven took a trip to Hong Kong. Literally being half a world apart caused a few crossed wires, and—long story short—due to some less than reliable internet connections on both ends, the project never got submitted. Nevertheless, we decided to finish it up and had the final video ready in time for Steven’s graduating show.
As mentioned, in late February I made a trip out to New York to try and drum up some interviews and possible job prospects in anticipation of my impending move out east. It just so happened that some of my classmates from the 2011 [email protected] Condensed program were also planning to come out to NYC around this time. After some emails back and forth, as well as a little bit of schedule shifting (I pushed my trip back a week, as did a couple others), a handful of us managed an impromptu reunion (which also saw the birthday of our [email protected] classmate Mariana…whose birthday dinner ended up being a bit of an expensive evening.)
Never to pass up a good typographic opportunity, while in New York I attended a weekend-long Cyrillic workshop with Maxim Zhukov (which included a little outing to the rare books collection at Columbia); a workshop concentrating on the Roman capital forms with my old [email protected] instructor Sumner Stone; a lecture at the Type Directors Club by French type designer Jean François Porchez (who I would run into again in the summer months); as well as participated in one of Paul Shaw’s illustrious Type Walks through TriBeCa.
In April I attended the first TYPO conference to be held in San Francisco. During the conference I also participated in a half-day sign painting workshop that was put on by the good (and patient!) folks at New Bohemia Signs. After a few hours of trying my best to draw at least one letter well, I realized that my temperament is better suited to making letters on a screen. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be changing professions any time soon.
Since graduation I had been slowly going through everything in my apartment—packing up, deciding what to keep, what to toss (or find good homes for)—and in late April I moved out of the place that I had lived for nearly four years in Long Beach. Lots of memories, that place; many a night was spent working in front of a glowing screen, or concepting a new package design, or painstakingly figuring out how to make the perfect cup of coffee. It was only after everything had been packed up that I sat down in the center of my living room, looked at the bare walls, and realized how much a place can mean; how we yearn for somewhere to which we belong.
In May I made a quick two day trip again up to San Francisco to again attend the presentations being given by the students in the BFA program @ CSULB, as well as to visit with my good friend Spenser who had recently taken on a full-time position at Perspective Branding in Oakland. While wandering around the Mission, Rachel and I also paid a quick visit to Jessica Hische & Erik Marinovich’s studio, Title Case, to have a gander at their new sign (painted by the fine folks at New Bohemia, no less).
In June I finally attended my first Formula One Grand Prix race in Montréal, along with my good friend Priyank. (Incidentally, while we were in Montréal, there were massive student protests going on in relation to tuition hikes [that many Québécois I talked to said really weren’t that bad…], which apparently were intensified due to the Grand Prix being in town.) During our second day there, we had lunch with my friend Stéphane and took a quick peek around his studio.
Lewis Hamilton won the Montréal GP, which—given the way in which the rest of his season has unfolded—was one of the brightest moments in Hamilton’s final year with McLaren. Priyank and I also managed to squeeze in a day trip to Quebec City (complete with a stop by the highway police for speeding…), which offered up some of the most memorable views of the trip.
A week after Montréal I boarded a plane for France, where I would be spending two weeks at a secluded chateau in central France named Boisbuchet (my week spent in Montréal, by the way, did nothing for my French; it still sucks).
Bought by the former director of the Vitra Design Museum in 1986, Boisbuchet plays host to numerous industrial design and architectural workshops from institutions around the world. The one I was attending was being put on by Products of Design—SVA’s I.D. masters program.
Over the course of ten days, I and fifteen other designers would go through a series of explorations that would lead us to a final product. My design’s jumping off point was my backpack, and by the end of the workshop the final product had metamorphosed into a scarf with myriad nifty pockets to store stuff in (and I learned how to sew!).
To see a bit of what we did at Boisbuchet, check out this video that features me gesticulating a lot for one reason or another.
After Boisbuchet, I spent an afternoon ambling around Paris with my friend Seth (who had also attended the workshop), visiting Versailles, the Centre Pompidou, and being generally ridiculous.
At the outset of the trip to France I had planned to spend a couple weeks working my way up the continent, and so after a day in Paris—fortified with beer and buttery foods—I took the train up to Brussels (which uses Antique Olive on its street signs! Antique Olive!). Due to my travel schedule I was only able to spend a single day in the city, but luckily I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Magritte museum, as well as one of the few remaining lambic breweries still operating in the city proper.
After Brussels I made my way up to Amsterdam where I visited my fellow [email protected] classmate Tarek. While in Holland, I attended the MFA graduating exhibitions at KABK, where Tarek and I had a look at the fantastic work done by the 2011 – 2012 Type]Media class. I also spent far too much money on books, found a library whose design makes it a library you’d actually want to go to, and discovered many bars with cats.
After nearly a week in Amsterdam, I took the ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich, and from there a train to London. While in town I was able to visit with my good friend Rahul, as well as visit the many millions of museums and galleries that the British seem to love to cultivate.
I also had the lucky chance to meet with Jonathan Ford, one of the principals at Pearlfisher; the meeting actually came about through a recommendation I had gotten during my February trip to New York. After viewing my portfolio and hearing of my plans to relocate to NYC, Jonathan put me in touch with Hamish Campbell—the creative director at their New York office—for a meeting the following week.
Upon returning to the US, I made a stop in NYC for a week to start searching around for an apartment, as well as to take on a couple interviews. As chance would have it, the current class of [email protected]’s Condensed program was smack in the middle of their studies. At the invitation of Jean François Porchez (told you I’d be seeing him again), I dropped in to one of the classes very briefly one afternoon, and: my god. They were so far along. Multiple weights, italics for god’s sake. And after talking to some of the students about their experience thus far, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of envy. The Condensed program has evolved by leaps and bounds in just a single year. I’m extremely excited to see where it goes next year.
My interview at Pearlfisher proved to be very fruitful indeed, and it was agreed that I’d be brought on as an intern in mid-September. Also while in NYC I did a bit of photography at an event that SVA Products of Design was putting on for the release of Rob Walker’s new book, Significant Objects.
Sadly, this stay in New York ended with my bag getting stolen right from under me in a coffee shop, laptop and all. Since I had been traveling the entire summer, I hadn’t had the chance to backup my system to an external drive, and so all of my photos and work from the summer months were completely lost (lesson here kids: back up your shit, and keep it somewhere physically safe). All the photos you see here were cobbled together from phones as well as through the generosity of other people sending me photos upon request.
Upon returning to Irvine, I finished up packing all my belongings and waited for the moving truck to arrive. During this time I spent a fair amount of time kind of decompressing after such an event filled season. I also had the privilege of attending the wedding of my friend Juan—a classmate of mine from CSULB—and his fiancé Lily.
And so on September 6th, I boarded a red-eye at 10.30pm from Long Beach Airport to JFK and bid adieu to Southern California. Landing at 5.30am, I had a couple hours to kill before picking up the keys to my apartment, which I spent sleeping—or at least trying to—in the departures area at the airport. After picking up my keys I headed straight to the SVA theater for this year’s Brand New Conference; if you thought trying to work on three hours sleep was tough, try half-listening to a design great like Massimo Vignelli just firing off these fantastic one-liners while simultaneously tweeting and trying to think of a good question to ask at the end of his talk.
On September 17—three days after my 25th birthday—I started at Pearlfisher, and opened the next chapter on this story of mine. We’ll see where it takes me next.
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I thank you all for your birthday wishes, and hope that this finds you in the best of spirits and health. I’ll be seeing you this next upcoming year, I’m sure.