It was summer 1988. I was just a wide-eyed junior in high school. My parents coaxed me into trying a two-week training course in graphic design given by the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I couldn't resist since the classes featured the two things that interested me the most, art and computers. After the class was completed I was a convert. The school was outstanding and graphic design was now my passion! High school graduation quickly arrived in 1989 and from there I was off to Pittsburgh to begin my creative studies.
I had my degree in hand after a few years of hard work mixed in with the usual college enjoyments. During this time I helped pay for my education while working for a beverage company repackaging damaged products. I was able to make quick use of my newly learned skills by creating banner advertisement for local establishments.
Eager to jump-start my career I moved back to Ohio and began freelance work. My first major client was GOJO Industries Inc., of Akron. After fifteen months of freelance work I was hired as a full time graphic designer for their in-house design department. The years that followed were filled with learning experiences. From enhancing my knowledge of the latest computer design programs to understanding the techniques behind graphic design, I explored every facet of the art.
As the century turned and times changed so did I. Web design was a relatively new medium that I wanted to begin learning. I searched the Internet for a new challenge and a new employer. I wanted a firm that would help me grow and learn but also be complimented by what expertise I had to offer. Within a few months of searching and interviewing I found a good match, GamingAds Inc., a small start up ad agency representing online gaming.
I said my goodbyes to my GOJO friends and coworkers in December of 2000. I rolled the dice on my new adventure with GamingAds Inc. shortly thereafter. As I became familiar with GamingAds, I felt like I hit the jackpot as far as gaining new skills not only in design but also in desktop publishing, web design and web marketing. Unfortunately, with the dot-com bust most of the clients GamingAds enjoyed during its heyday closed up shop. With a shrinking client base, GamingAds felt the pressure and closed its doors in the summer of 2002.
Luckily, while at GamingAds I met a gentleman who had another advertising agency, Siebert Media Group, and was invited to come aboard. Taking me and a few others from the now defunct GamingAds we formed a highly creative team helping Siebert Media Group expand.
We hit the ground running and quickly shored up the remaining accounts left over from GamingAds. Working for a small but effective team, I have learned to wear many hats and have grown my skills set over the 15+ years. From effectively managing the creative direction of our most important clients to helping them take advantage of what good design, marketing and advertising can do for their business.
Siebert Media Group continues to prosper morphing into Siebert Advertising, which is where I am currently carving out my career. Sharping and evolving my understanding of the "newer" advertising and marketing channels – various social media platforms, SEO, and internet pay-per-click, that the world wide web continues to provide.
Even now that I'm older, my career continues to grow as new challenges for design, advertising, and marketing evolve. I am more confident in my skill set and the career path that I chose. I look forward to what challenges the future may bring.
In addition to being gainfully employed in the design field, I have worked on some wonderful side design projects over the years with some extraordinary people. These experiences not only help me grow on a business level, but also on a personal level.
One of the first major design projects was partnering with Mike, a previous colleague from GOJO. He reached out to me about putting a website together so he could sell some photographs that he took while he was battling cancer. I didn't realize at the time but our long conversations and time spent working on the project was a way for him to keep his mind occupied while going through chemotherapy. I value that time spent on that project not only for business insight that Mike shared but also the personal moments that ended up being the real value of the site.
One of the most personal design projects for me was teaming up with my father and uncle to launch Bluestem Art. This is another photography site showcasing both of their creativity. It also helped bridge a gap that had grown over the years between my father and I and allowed us to reconnect.
One of the major business benefits of putting that website together was the tremendous lift in SEO his other business website (www.bluestem.ca) received once we started linking back and forth.
The most current project is RedLabel Shirts (www.redlabelshirts.com). Taking my children's love of music and my wife's idea and putting together a site selling t-shirts, stickers, and other merchandise. All geared towards people who are in a band or play an instrument.
During my time at GOJO a pretty young lady caught my artistic eye – Jennifer, a print buyer in the design department. We married in June of 1998 and bought a house in Canal Fulton, to begin our family. We have two wonderful children. Collin our son, born in 1999 who plays the bassoon and works hard as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Avery our daughter, born 2002 who dances with beauty and grace, and plays the trombone.
In 2006, we moved to the city of Green, with a chocolate Labrador named Mocha, our beloved cat Matilda, and Angus the corn snake. We have since lost Matilda, but have gained a couple of other cats - Tiger and Luna.
In my spare time(?) you can find me spending time with that crew, fly fishing, or mountain biking.
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