Underoath Farewell Poster

I did my first merch design for Underoath a decade ago, while my band was touring with them. Since then, I’ve steadily contributed to their various runs of merch, and have been honored to continually be asked to create more art.

So I was honored to be asked by Tim to design a limited edition poster for one of the shows for their Farewell Tour Artist Series. The poster is available on their site, along with a tee version. Below is my contribution. Also, be sure to check out the various limited edition posters, including art by Invisible Creature, Jordan Butcher, and Steve Hash, to name a few.


A Year Forward

As the years move on, each go a bit faster. The perception that I had of one year as a child, an entire lifetime, becomes a little bit more visible, and tangible. Statements like “This year, I intend to…” become a little more realistic, as our grip on a single year improves.

Let this post be my year-end rambling. I may have a few things on my mind, and I’d love to get some of them out in this post.

In my freelance career, it has been fun to divide my operation into separate years, and make goals. Many of my records date back to 2002, when I was 19 years old, and first started caring about finding out exactly what I was capable of. At 19, I wasn’t concerned with any annual income. In fact, I was only aware of my annual income when it was substantial enough to be considered a decent year’s pay. Around the age of 22, when I was able to devote most of my time to design, the lightbulb went off, and I realized that “Oh, this is what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life?” So thus, my respectable, full-time operation truly gained momentum.

Each year has been progressively better than the last, and working for myself has never felt better. A few years ago, I stopped caring about reaching any sort of number by the end of the year, and instead nestled myself into the comfort of being immersed in my work, and earning a decent living at it.

But even without stressing out over it, each year continues to top the year prior. I’m beginning to think that this is a result of building a momentum and rapport with my clients, but also due to an overall optimistic attitude towards my work and the future.

I’ve learned that freaking out about the future is extremely counter-productive.

For those of you that are afraid to take the plunge into freelance, I want to assure you that all of your concerns are indeed valid. There are always great reasons to NOT do something. But, I can also assure you that the only way to know if you can swim or not is to jump in. I have a feeling that if you want to survive, you’ll figure it out. Your pessimistic panic, however, will result in failure.

Pessimism is simply how you choose to perceive your world. A true pessimist makes a pessimistic assumption, and then seeks out confirmation for their prediction, blinding themselves to the positives from the experience.

Actually, if you’re on the fence about going freelance, let me lay something out that may make the decision easier for you: If you’re a pessimist, you probably will not be able to make it in freelance. Success in freelance requires you to stay positive. If you can’t stay positive, then you may not be the perfect candidate. However, I would love to be proven wrong on this.

Souls May Decay

I met a few new people this year. One of which is a college senior, with a passion for local startups. I was inspired by his ideas for seeking out local designers, developers, and founders, and finding a way to connect them all, and to start a dialog within our city. I enjoyed his passion, as it reminded me of my own, when I had the time to carry out my big ideas. While I’m quite excited that I’ve immersed myself in freelance, which I love, I do tend to wish that I had more free time to carry out every decent idea that pops in my head.

But, there are people out there who are just as excited for these big ideas as you are. While finding them may be tough, knowing them may give you an outlet to see some of these ideas come to fruition.

In one of these meetings with other local creatives (which I was ridiculously nervous to attend, and horribly out of my element) I was excited to meet other people who were doing big things. It was so encouraging to see other people’s passion for their work. This “fire” is contagious, and I’ve learned to be more intentional about seeking out people with fire and passion for what they do, as they can encourage and enrich our work, and in turn, our lives.

I notice the passion, because I also notice the dread. There are so many designers out there who have no “smile” attached to discussing their work. They discuss their job the same way they would discuss a funeral, no smile, no passion, no pep, it’s just “where they work.”

I feel for these people. I am slightly annoyed by them, but I’m more concerned and interested in what exactly destroyed their soul. It’s not their fault. They went into a design job, wide-eyed, and slowly, without knowing, someone began chipping away at their soul. It didn’t come down like a guillotine, but just a little bit at a time. Their great idea gets shot down. They feel unvalued. They eventually become a part of the machine, a machine that doesn’t smile, a machine that doesn’t speak positively, and a machine that attaches navy blue coveralls to the word “work,” as opposed to the pride that they once had for their own “work” of art.

Your soul may decay. If you let it go for too long, you’ll just find yourself completely out of smiles. You’ll forget how to talk about something that you’re excited about. You’ll become a pessimist, and it won’t necessarily be your fault.

Just decide, someday, to have a major life-change, and to turn that pessimism off.

Up to you.

The Early Bird is a Machine

I’m no stranger to freaking out. I am often sat before a mountain of work, trying to figure out who is to blame. I get annoyed, irritated, frustrated, and grind my teeth, until I simply admit and realize the fact that that day, because I have all of this freelance freedom, had chosen to sleep in.

My annoyance and frustration may have been coupled with a bit of grogginess. What felt like the beginning of my work day was actually the early afternoon, and the rest of the world were responsible enough to be winding their work days down.

I just felt like the lazy slob that woke up at 11:30.

So I decide to do the one thing that never fails to change my complete perspective on stuff. That evening, I get in bed around 9:00, and wake my lazy butt up at 3:00, 4:00, or 5:00 am the next morning.

Seriously. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 3:00 am. When I do, it’s like I’ve woke up in the Land of Oz, and everything is in bright colors. My brain just works in the most efficient manner possible, and I get 2-3 days worth of work done in 5-6 hours. By Noon, I’ve conquered the days tasks, and then some, and have the rest of the day (and daylight) to clear my head. I become available for my wife, and for my friends that want to have lunch or coffee. I start breathing in the extra oxygen that I’ve allowed myself, and wonder why I was such a lazy piece of crap yesterday, and vow to never sleep in again.

I then go on to imagine what would be different if I could wake up at 3:00, Monday-Friday for an entire year. Would my entire life get better? Would I double my income? Could I start a new business with my afternoons?

I don’t know yet. But you’ll be the first to know if I can actually pull it off.

But, alas, when the early-bird streak ends, and I sleep in, again, on a busy day, I know that I can always correct this again by waking up early.

So if you’re finding yourself unable to work diligently and efficiently, and in turn, getting frustrated, I would recommend waking up ridiculously early.

It’s worth a shot.

Machete Monday!

I’m doing a Cyber Monday sale, calling it “Machete Monday!” Visit The Racing Machetes web store and enter promo code MACHETEMONDAY to get $10 off any tee. Get There Fast!


My Talk At SAA

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing a talk at SAA. I had a great time speaking to, and interacting with the students. I feel like I was able to cover quite a bit in this talk, and sum up my philosophy behind design, work, and freelance. They also went the extra mile and put a great video together of the talk. Sit back, relax, and watch my talk: Spend Your Life Creating Something.

Dark Collar Branding Elements

Thank You Pagebreak Podcast

Lately, I’ve been scouring the internets for a good collection of Podcasts to listen to while I work. One of the podcasts that I came across, last week actually, was Pagebreak Podcast.

So imagine my delight when I check my twitter mentions, and see that their recent “Snippet” is a discussion about one of my recent blog posts, Fight To Stay Excited.

I want to give a huge thank you to Liz Andrade and Niki Brown for their conversation, and their take my article. I’m honored.

Listen to the podcast here.

If you haven’t discovered Podcasts yet, they have proved to be an amazing way to hear other people’s take on the creative work lifestyle that we all experience. You can obviously find podcasts on iTunes, but I would also recommend the iPhone app, Instacast – which allows you to find and subscribe to nearly any podcast.

SAA Conversations Video

A couple weeks ago, I did a talk at SAA. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and was asked a few questions after the talk. Here’s a quick interview on my opinions on my own design work, and the school itself.

Fight To Stay Excited

For a recent talk, while compiling slides, I found myself coming up with quick phrases that I would then elaborate upon. Many of these could be considered the title of the specific tangent, much like the title of a blog post – a quick title for a quick idea.

I was delighted to have come up with several titles that had a certain “ring” to them, and would probably lend themselves to a worthwhile future blog post. I fully intend on developing many of them into articles, as I realized that my talk is a collection of ideas that I have and will express via this blog.

One of my favorite phrases was:

Fight to stay excited.
The world wants to bum you out.

Plain and simple.

I find myself gravitating towards authors and personalities that realize this fact. Books, podcasts, and websites can all draw my attention if we have this commonality established. We prioritize excitement, and realize that there is a fight to keep it this way. Continue reading 

Talk The Talk

What a week. It may not be a big deal to some, but the fact that I was able to pull off my first proper speaking engagement this week was a huge milestone for me. I realize plenty of designers do talks, but I’ve been holding back for years now, to ensure that my first talk was a good one.

I want to thank VP Matthew Flick for asking me, and The School Of Advertising Art in Kettering, Ohio for having me speak. SAA is an amazing place, and geared to get these students equipped to have great design skills, but to also have great design lives. I only wanted to be added encouragement to an already great situation. I want to thank the students for being attentive, receptive, curious, and enthusiastic. They all had excitement right away, which, very quickly, killed any nerves I may have had when I walked in.

I’m excited to get the ball rolling on more speaking engagements. I have a few lined up, and am quite optimistic about speaking on a more regular basis. I have a more clear and concise point of view, these days, and I’m eager to speak up about it.

I love what I do for a living, and I’m hoping that there’s a way that I can make it rub off on everyone else.

Wish me luck.


Lettering Process

Here’s a look at my process for a recent lettering piece. Spend Your Life Creating Something. You can buy the print here.


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