I started my ‘official’ design career at Art Center College of Design but really my education began at very early age. When I wasn’t drawing comics or hot rods I was in my dads shop welding, fabricating and building things basically no child should be allowed near. I have always been obsessed with all things mechanical. This desire to understand how things work coupled with my illustration background really formed the basis for my studies and ultimately my life.
As a young designer I valued variety and so I jumped around a lot, trying to learn as much as I could about different types of product design. I focused on action sports and athletic wear because the products you use will either enhance or negatively affect your performance, you can’t escape it. I also have been fortunate to work with some of the most influential brands in this space and the truly iconic leaders who got them there. My design philosophy is pretty simple, product is king, and it should look as good as it works. Storytelling is important, but too often the product doesn’t live up to the promise, both need to be strong.
Fresh out of school I found myself sitting in Phil Nights office, in the shadow of a giant Nike goddess sculpture, and surrounded by Japanese furniture, showing him comic style renderings for a new asset for the brand who would show up in comic books and in real life at basketball events with Michael Jordon. I worked with Warner Bros Studios to bring the suit to life alongside the Batman costume for their latest movie.
Fast forward years and I’m sitting with Yvon Chouinard asking him what he’s looking for in a premium fly fishing boot, spit balling back and forth about how to keep it from collapsing under water pressure so his feet don’t get cold. He shows me a new aluminum traction cleat he came up with “in the shed”, yeah, that shed. We talk about how to commercialize it based on my experience with track plates so they’re replaceable when they wear out. Then the conversation wanders into salmon farming and global warming and ends with Yvonne saying “you think you’re a designer? My friend is inventing synthetic beef so we can get rid of cows”.! We went on to build an award-winning boot that has changed the industry and forced the competition to follow suit.
During my time as a contractor I’ve also enjoyed working with leaders at such brands as Anon, Fox Racing, Oakley, Keen, Adidas AIT among others. I worked for Smith Sport Optics on an award winning helmet, the Variant that I still see on the slopes today and launched their successful helmet line. I also had the opportunity to design Olympic product for many of the athletes sponsored by Li Ning, all of whom broke records in the shoes we developed.
The last 8 years I’ve been working with a very different type of visionary, Kevin Plank who founded Under Armour Inc., where until recently I was the Sr Creative Director of Run, Sportstyle and Outdoor footwear. I managed a large team of designers and enjoyed every minute of it. As well as managing I kept busy by designing signature level product for both Run and Outdoor. UA is a fast-paced, dynamic company with a strong culture rooted in performance. I enjoyed the challenge of leading a large team and working collaboratively across the organization to bring authentic and credible product to retail that is tied to the powerful story telling and emotional connection this brand is famous for.
I love working with athletes as well and know the best product comes from an honest collaboration with the ‘power users’ in our world. You get the deepest insights from people who live, breathe and excel at their given sport. I get inspiration from them and enjoy the process of building a unique product together that will hopefully enhance their training, race or experience and help them reach their goals.