What are you doing professionally?
I am the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of COLLINS in San Francisco, a brand and experiential firm with an office here and in New York City.
I opened up our office 2 years ago after working at Airbnb for just over a year. It started in my apartment and we’ve been growing steadily ever since. We’ve got a staff of 12 working with Facebook, Instagram, Nike, Airbnb, and Dropbox – which is totally unbelievable. And we’re now building out our new, larger office in SOMA.
I still design. But I also write more emails now.
How has your thesis progressed?
Illuminated Atheist hasn’t really progressed since I graduated — turns out there’s a super enthusiastic atheist community and they want to get dinner and talk about stuff alot, but I really didn’t. It’s a bit…dull. So dropped it and focused on being a designer — but loved the process and creating it.
What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?
I credit my experience at SVA MFA Design with a lot of my career. It gave me access to the New York City design community and the opportunity to learn a myriad of skills. Those 2 years truly changed my life. I now work with and consider Brian Collins a good friend, who was my teacher there – and my classmates Nick Ace and Jules Tardy work with us at Collins, too. It’s bonkers and I love all of them.
I learned alot more than just “design” which has served me well in the position I find myself in now. I didn’t leave SVA as just a better designer, but a better thinker and more informed person. It was crucial for me to learn how to speak and think about design — how to articulate it, not just make it. When you get exposure to so many great designers it changes how you view the profession and the act itself.
Has our “do it all” approach changed the way you work or approach a project?
When I was at SVA I wrote, created logos and systems, posters, made an animated music video, shot live action video and photos, illustrated a kids book and designed and marketed a website. I’ve always been interested in being a multi-disciplinary designer and SVA was an amazing space to experiment with a multitude of ways of working and making. Today, I think it’s crucial, not to mention more interesting, to work in multiple ways. When we’re looking for designers at COLLINS we’ll always take the candidate who has a wide range of skills and is interested in craft beyond just one, single type of design.
What advice would you give incoming students?
Fail Hard! Chances are you won’t have another 2 years of space to try anything you want and fail – so this it. Go as hard as you can go and leave no regrets that you didn’t try hard enough. Carve out the design career you want and find out what you’re actually interested in. And you’re in [email protected]%&*ing New York City, so have fun, get weird.
Those were probably the two most productive years of my life. Not everything I made was great, but the momentum I built up there has carried me until now.