I spent my 45+ year career as a Graphic Designer and Product Designer.
I have worked for Ad Agencies, Manufacturing Companies, been a partner in several Design Consultancies, and owned my Design Consultancy. Sometimes doing several things at the same time – freelance while working for someone else – more about that later.
I am a graduate of Brigham Young University, Provo Utah, with a BFA / Industrial Design (aka Product Design). I minored in Graphic Design.
Like most kids, I wanted to be a lot of different things. Dentist, but I almost failed Chemistry my Freshman year in college. Oceanographer, I was inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s TV programs, but only got as far as getting my PADI certification. The one thing I was always doing was doodling, my middle school and High School class notes had all kinds of drawings in the margins: cars, planes, cartoons, and even logos.
Jump to 1974 and a mission to Lima Peru for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I was asked to make several posters for a program to encourage reading The Book of Mormon. I found some images in a church magazine and some quotes and I proceeded to make 3, 24” by 36” posters. Each poster had an illustration at the top and a quote in Spanish underneath (I think I have some slides somewhere). I got quite a few compliments on my illustrations and my lettering capabilities. I attribute the letter to HS drafting classes, which were my favorite classes and the only ones I got A+’s in.
When I returned to Brigham Young University (BYU) in September of 1975 I went to the Engineering Department looking to get a degree in Drafting. WHOA – too much math required! I asked if there was a program that didn’t require so many engineering and math courses. The young lady assisting me said I should try the Art Department; they had several degrees in Design. I headed over to the Art Department.
Graphic Design. Interior Design and Industrial Design were the 3 options to choose from in the Design Department. The young lady assisting me there couldn’t tell me the difference between the 3 programs, but they all one thing in common, 2 semesters of Art Foundation, 6 credit hours.
I was fortunate that my first instructor was a practicing Graphic Design (sorry, can’t remember his name). One assignment was to see if we could get a cartoon into the school paper. My cartoon of a sleeping student on the quad getting run over by a lawnmower made it into the paper. I think I have that clipping and if I do, I’ll post it.
My second semester was taught by a practicing Industrial Designer, Kurt Hanks. What an imagination and ability to put his ideas on paper. Kurt always carried a felt tip pen, a roll of yellow fodder paper, and some gray markers. Sketches stretched for yards. He’d even let students add to the roll if they had the courage. One of our assignments was to build a kite that had at least one dimension that equaled our height. I made it into the college newspaper again, I was jumping off a one-story building with the kite strapped to my back. I made it into the paper for a third time with another assignment, a picture of me sitting on a chair made from corrugated cardboard. I’m not boasting - I just remembered all of this as I was writing info for my website.
At the end of our second semester, Kurt encouraged us to go home for the summer and to find a job in the design field. I returned to El Paso, Texas, and looked under Industrial Design in the yellow pages. Sure enough, there was a listing. I called and spoke to one of the owners and he admitted that they didn’t do product design, they were focused on architectural work. But he did give the name and number of the owner of the advertising agency upstairs from them. I called and made an appointment to meet with the owner, Scott Goodwin. When I showed up, I didn’t even have a portfolio. I told him I was just looking for a summer job to find out if I liked the design field. He sent me home to get whatever I had and I returned an hour later with some work from my Foundation class and a logo I was doing for my girlfriend. I got hired on the spot as a paste-up artist. What the heck was a paste-up artist? I had no idea!
I started the next day at Paragon Designs and by the end of the week, Scott offered me a full-time job, explaining he could teach me more than I would ever learn in college. That summer job lasted 2 ½ years. I learned so many skills, especially making presentations to clients. I even got to design some furniture, display systems, and other one-of-a-kind desk accessories. But there was something inside that kept nagging at me to go back to school. When I left Paragon, which was now Goodwin+Johnson, to go back to BYU to get my degree in Industrial Design I left as Art Director. I had several offers from other agencies when it became known I was leaving G+J. Again, not bragging, just proving that Scott had taught me more than I would have learned in college.
I returned to BYU and continued in Product Design. It was a fantastic time in my life and I saw what I want to do for the rest of my life. In the process. I met other like-minded individuals that have been successful in their own rights. Here's just a few: Duane Loose, Chip Wood, Del Thornock, Leonard Hofheins, Keith Poulson, Kirk Rasmussen, Steve Brown, Stuart Morgan, Scott Richards, Tim Armstrong, Gordon Cutler, and Leslie King. I apologize if I left anyone out. Oh, Becky and her husband - someone please help me out. Thanks.
Work History to Come.