It’s a been a while since I have posted. From the end of August through September and October have been incredibly busy for me. For a quick recap, here’s what has happened thus far.
As I have written before, I asked my long time girlfriend Amanda Demcsak to marry to me (she said yes). As we have entered this new phase as fiancé’s we strangely have become our own project managers…managing various facets of wedding planning. To her credit, Amanda has been excellent in arranging to meet with different vendors and negotiating terms so that we may focus on the fun stuff, like invitations and decorations and what not. Since our engagement announcement, our weekends have been filled with events ranging from vendor meetings, family get-together, various holidays, other weddings to attend and the dreaded house maintenance days (carpet cleaning sucks when you have 1900 square feet of carpet). It’s been very busy, but it has been worth every moment.
As of three weeks ago, I became the new Creative Director at Aspire Ventures in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is an incredible opportunity to help an organization incorporate design thinking within impact investing. In the last few years, I have worked in a variety of industries with different focuses, but always still centered on design, brand and product. After my disastrous time at working at Sacunas, I came to Aspire Ventures as an interaction designer with my main role in front-end development. The atmosphere and openness at Aspire Ventures allowed me to come out of my shell that I built up from my time at Sacunas. Talking about your culture is one thing, but actually nurturing it and “walking the walk” is a complete different thing. When the opportunity for me to return to a leadership role, I spent time thinking about my experience and what I had learned from it all. The things I learned about leadership is that trust and transparency are paramount. I learned that you can only help those who are willing to help themselves as well. This might be an old saying, but I have found it to be incredibly accurate in dealing with people. I firmly believe, as a leader, that it’s my job to help develop the individuals in my team to become greater (be it more knowledge, capable leaders, cross-discplinary, more well-rounded) but you can’t help anyone who doesn’t want your help or doesn’t think they need your help. Another old saying is that you sometimes have to let people fail to learn is true. The leaders I’ve had who taught me the most and have had a positive impact in my life are my compass in my path as Creative Director. I work longer, harder and often times work towards strategy and sustainability, but when I see my team do incredible work I know that I am helping them do that. That makes me incredibly proud.
Ever since my last event as President of AIGA Central PA, I have been bitten by the bug that is home brewing. My good friends Scott and Matt imparted so much knowledge and love for creating home brewed craft beer that goes well beyond just drinking it. So I finally got up and began to assemble my home brewing supplies to turn my garage into a microbrew pub. Five weeks ago, I brewed a batch of hefeweizen with Helles yeast and today, November 5th 2016, it’s finally ready for my co-workers to sample. Encouraged by my own tasting, I have assembled a pretty sweet all-grain and separate extract batch setup. The parallels I have found between design and home brewing is the same sort of attention to detail and process in crafting a product. While one may convincingly say that brewing is an art form (and I wouldn’t argue against that line of thinking) I believe it falls more squarely in the world of design, at least in process. As I continue to grow my microbrewery I hold on to what is most important in brewing…doing with love and with good friends. Arguably the best part of home brewing is listening to music and drinking different brews during the process.
About three weeks ago now, I made my long overdue pilgrimage back to Pittsburgh. For a very long time, I wanted to show Amanda where I am from; where I consider home; and where I grew up at. I moved from Pittsburgh when I was very young, just right before entering kindergarten. One can say I did my growing up in Central Pennsylvania and I wouldn’t say that is a falsehood. But for me, Pittsburgh has always pulled at my soul and felt more like home than anything. I had spent summers and holidays there right up until my grandparents moved to Central PA with us not only eight years later. My trips back to Pittsburgh would be punctuated and only occur every three to four years. After Amanda had shown me where she grew up in New Jersey, I really wanted to show her my home. We got up early and make the trek into Pittsburgh on a Saturday morning just as the shops in the Strip District were opening up. That day, I felt like a ghost haunting old streets and homes, remembering ages past of a myself a child and random memories flooding back to me. That night, we met up with my godfather and his wife for dinner in Market Square and walked around downtown as he regaled us with the history of PPG, UPMC, Point Park, and the Duquesne Incline. Before we left Sunday morning, we did a mandatory shopping excursion in the Strip District to Pennsylvania Macaroni and Wholey’s for staple eats and ingredients. When we left and heading back on the turnpike, I couldn’t help feel this rush of emotion welling up inside me asking me to stay. Maybe one day, we’ll answer that voice.
It’s been a while since I talked about my issues with my mental health. In the last few months I have had a number of people email me about my post Living with Depression as a Designer. I never expected it to resonate with anyone…it was supposed to me more cathartic for me to talk about it…but nevertheless I have received over one hundred emails from people all over the world thanking me for my post and sharing their struggles and asking me for advice. That kind of response was never expected…and I felt incredibly humbled that people told me that my post helped them. This has led me to consider a few ideas for a project to help people with mental health issues who work in the design and development fields. This is something that I am still working through the concept of, but I feel might be helpful for people.
212 pages. 212 pages have been written. World History, NPC’s, new rules, artifacts, locations, and the list goes on. What started as my home grown fantasy roleplaying campaign has turned into a massive campaign setting for the Pathfinder RPG system. The next steps are to go into editing and sourcing an illustrator to work with. I’m highly considering kickstarting this project in the spring.
What coming up next is great. My campaign setting will be my December project. I’m doing research into the concept I have for mental health in creative industry. In a few weeks, I am also hosting a massive brew day to do a Christmas Imperial IPA, a mead, and a hard cider. In my new role as Creative Director, I am looking forward in shaping the direction of the team and working with our ventures as some move towards exiting our incubator and others are coming into the fold.