What are you doing professionally?
I wear many hats these day. Some fitted and worn well, others are fresh and yet to be broken-in. The majority of my time is spent at a super-stealth, tech focused startup (we have artificial intelligence) where I work as a Senior Art Director. We conceive, incubate, build, launch and manage our own brands/products from the ground up – then watch them grow while nurturing them. The past year has been a remarkable opportunity to work day to day with extremely talented, passionate members of a blossoming, all-star team. One roof nests a convergence of industrial designers, data scientists, polymath engineers, developers, marketing experts, graphic designers, etc. all collaborating to build amazing brand and products. Interfacing with such a wide gamut of talent from contrasting disciplines offers unique perspective to all of us, it’s often educational. I speak design systems, brand positioning or visual language while someone sitting two seats away is versed in a language I don’t comprehend, it’s a lovely thing. Chiara Bajardi, a fellow SVA MFA Design alumni sits a few chairs away which is pretty rad!
Before taking on my current role I was permalancing, consulting and running my own little Brooklyn based design studio, Davidwhitepond. Over the course of 8+ years I had the opportunity to be in cahoots with some of best like Collins, World Studio, Yoxi, Big Tomorrow, Production Pro and MBG among many others. Consulting and taking on my own clients is the dream. I still take on select freelance projects to keep the moonlight company. I find it fills a void that is often difficult to keep satiated when working full-time. It is crucial to the health of my soul as a designer to have a creative outlet which I find in cooking, drawing and playing music.
I teach two design classes in the School of Visual Arts BFA Design program. Teaching has become a real joy ,and by real joy I mean challenge worth the effort! I am a co-owner of the Brooklyn based bike parts vending machine Bikestock, founded in 2013. Our flagship location is located around the corner from Roberta’s in Bushwhack. If you have a flat tire during off hours, need a late night snack, hip pouch or want to purchase a point and shoot camera Google us and you’ll find the closest of our six locations.
How has your thesis progressed?
I pressed hard to find proper funding to launch my thesis, Foodstalk for nearly a year after completion of my MFA. I was unsuccessful, though I have not lost hope. The work I did is still relevant and the topic even more so. Locally grown food, the farmers whom grow it and it’s indelible place in our day to day will never go away. I would gladly accept any opportunity to partner or help scale up Foodstalk in a way that I had originally intended. My thesis opened doors to connections I am still in touch with or work for/with. It also informed the work I do now as a designer and will do forever as a human. Opportunity to work on large scale design projects for social good has presented itself as a result of my thesis project.
What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career?
People often ask whether graduate school was worth it or if it really changed my life as a design practitioner. Simply told, the answer will be YES – tenfold. SVA MFA Design provided architecture for me grow into the designer I am now. Building the foundation was up to me. Steven and Lita have constructed a program to set up students with the framework to understand what it means to be a multidisciplinary design entrepreneur and push us out of the nest with perfect timing. Making everlasting connections with my classmates, professors and co-chairs has been irreplaceable. The profound impact SVA MFA Design had on my career should be the subject for an article in entirety.
Has our “do it all” approach changed the way you work or approach a project?
The “do it all” approach goes hand in hand with design thinking and what it truly means to be a designer now. We’re no longer siloed as designers like the past. It’s okay for a designer to specialize in or master something broad like product design. However, I find it more beneficial or practical to be fluent in many design languages. The “do it all” approach opened me up to discover that as designers we should be at the same table discussing high-level concepts such as strategy, brand architecture, user flow, content creation, design patterns, visual language, etc as everyone else. We have to push ourselves to do it all to be the best designers possible. The program granted me the opportunity to experiment, push the boundaries, make art, design products, books, logos, posters, etc. and understand new processes along the way. The best part was analytical discussions surrounding topical sticky points amongst my classmates, but especially with the faculty.
What are your long term goal/short term goals?
Design is a lifestyle. I hope to avoid feeling disenchanted from what I believe to be magic. A longtime goal of mine has always been to scale-up my own studio to a sustainable practice I run with help from other talented people.
What advice would you give incoming students?
Do your best.
Try things that make you uncomfortable.
Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know yet.
Stay in the studio, seriously, stay.
Ride bicycles often.
Take tea when Steve offers after an all-nighter.
Ask Lita for help with your thesis.
Just be nice.
Sleep is optional.
Any call to action?
Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat over coffee or electronic mail. I am more than happy to speak with any incoming or prospective students about my experience. [email protected]
You may look at old work on my extremely out of date website if you choose (this will serve as a reminder that I need to design and build a new one featuring current work, sigh).