How I Became A Freelance Graphic Designer in Staten Island, New York

I’d just turned 22 in the summer of 2012. I had spent the better part of the last decade playing in minuscule garage bands. Covering Local H with my friends, and naively writing terrible songs about the conditions of my formative years. My band Backslashes & Bad Ideas finally had a steady lineup and a handful of songs we felt proud of. We played the same two or three local venues similar to a record on repeat, honing our craft. Gearing up for a road trip across state lines to a real deal recording studio. We felt like rockstars, but deep down we all knew it was the furthest thing from the truth.

Being the one who stood up and volunteered to take on most of the clerical work for the band, I found myself in charge of the album artwork and marketing for the record. I quickly found myself immersed in the world of design without a single idea how to bring it to fruition. The name of the record is “Nothing Left To Give”, a five-song EP in the vein of all the old Taking Back Sunday and Brand New records we grew up listening to. Our bassist took a captivating photo of a run-down house a scant few blocks from where we both used to live. Hurricane Sandy destroyed the home, less than twelve weeks after “Nothing Left To Give” debuted. Fitting.

I had tried my best to edit the photo, add the text in a way that looked nice and bold but didn’t obfuscate the imagery of a broken home on its last legs. Equal parts clueless and enamored, I scraped together a promo video for the release alongside a bit of promotional artwork. It was atrocious, but it fueled me. I knew that all the bands I held in high regard utilized strong imagery and design to support their records. I knew that I was inherently attracted to products with exceptional design over those that looked slapped together on MS Paint. So I figured, “hey, if I can learn how to do this stuff, that would save us a lot of money and give us an edge to getting noticed, to getting out there”. And so, I learned.

Four years, three releases, dozens of shirt designs, countless concert and tour flyers, two lyric videos, some advertisements, a logo, and a do-it-yourself music video later, I'm still pushing my own boundaries in each and every project. Once a necessity, for my struggling local band to scrape by has become a burning passion. It has become my career and everything I dreamed of doing as an artist.

I’m proud of what I’ve built with Empirical Designs. I strive to bring the same passion I had for creating visuals for my own music to my clients. I identify my own traits in them. I recognize musicians writing meaningful music and asking for a helping hand in telling their story. I observe businesses looking to broaden their brand identity and recognition. In a way, design is a way for me to give back. It’s a way to give my clients a voice through art and design. Graphic design is where expression and functionality meet head on, and I’m driven by the passion for putting everything in its proper place.

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