Early in my art & design career things did not go very well (not a very unique story line, I know). I graduated art school in 2008 (two strikes against me — art degree & 2008), got married, and moved immediately to Washington, DC to find a job (arguably a third strike — the DC part, not the marriage part). After hundreds of applications for jobs that I never heard a single response back from (I still have that “rejected” folder in my Gmail account #nostalgia) I started my coffee career!Newly married, new city, making coffee, wife in a graduate program…it’s pretty obvious I needed another job, so I started to freelance as a brand designer. The art and coffee combination worked out well; up early to work at the cafe, stay up late designing. The best part is that I got 95% of my freelance connections through the cafe I was working in at the time (R.I.P. MTC). I was able to sit in as a production designer for creative agencies, met or worked with a number of really creative people, and I got connected to the art and design scene. On top of freelance design I was making an attempt at breaking into the fine art scene. I did this for a couple of years and really enjoyed it.
After a number of small scale group shows and what I felt was a bit of momentum, my wife handed me a book that she was currently reading as a part of her International Development curriculum in school titled “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder. The book is about a man named Paul Farmer and the origins of an organization he founded, called Partners In Health (check out my 1% page). I have never bookmarked, dogeared, highlighted, and made so many margin notes in a book as I did with that one. I felt so inspired that I created a 5-piece series of limited run, hand printed, art prints. A series that, to this day, I consider to be my best and most inspired work yet (sorry AofE). in 2011, the series was included in a small art show and I donated a large percent of the proceeds I made from the show to Partners In Health.
One of the pieces I created for the show was titled “We’re all Human Beings”, it is a multimedia screen print with a blue watercolor wash background and white ink pulled over top. The image in white is a crown over a human heart all above the phrase “We’re All Human Beings”. The print layout was inspired by the “Keep Calm & Carry On” posters that were created during the Second World War and were intended to be plastered all across Britain, but never were. They were intended to bring attention to the hardship of their everyday lives at the time (impending airstrikes) and encourage the people to continue to do the work that needed to get done. In the same vein, my print is intended to bring awareness to our humanity, to bring to light the fact that we are all made the same and encourage all people to treat others with respect and dignity. The crown over the heart represents the implied dignity of all people and the phrase could not be stated any more obviously; classic British stoicism. In September of 2011, I had the crown and heart tattooed onto the front of my left shoulder two days before my wife and I got on a plane and moved to Rwanda where she would begin her work with Partners In Health. It was to be my reminder that the people I would be living and working with were half a world away from what I'm familiar with, but nonetheless human beings like me.
Fast forward to early 2017 when the Anatomy of Everything concept began: I had to tap into my previous life as a brand designer and come up with a logo and brand concept for AofE. Free Advice for brand designers: don’t do your own branding. It’s really hard! I understand that the logo I have decided to go with for AofE is a bit unusual, but the concepts it represents are exactly what I want to portray through each of the illustrations we release. I want to find the dignity in each object I see. I want to learn more about the objects I interact with daily. And finally, I want to share that knowledge with others.
More knowledge bring more dignity and more respect.
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