making music, watching movies, bleeding for sports (Go Hawks, Go Cubs Go), playing video games, attempting snowboarding (though still pretty terrible at it), ruling at grilling, keeping up on all things web design and developement, rocking at life in general.
I am a passionate web developer located in Cedar Falls, IA who tries to focus on creating an easy and enjoyable user experience with design choices made based off stats derived from web traffic. I love what I do, and some of the things I love most are being able to be creative and the different challenges that comes with each new project I take on. I believe in making the users web surfing experience just as easy as it is awesome. I’m going on my fifth year of working in the field, and if you’d like, you can read on below on how I got here. Make sure to check out my portfolio and resume to see my latest work as well!
I grew up amongst the corn fields in the very small community of Oelwein, Iowa. During my time at Oelwein High I was involved in a number of things such as sports, band, business groups, and art. I really started to focus more and more on my art during my senior year here, and loved working on paying attention detail in my drawings. So when graduation came, I decided to further my art skills by enrolling at the University of Northern Iowa. After a year of attendance, and several courses into my fine arts major however, I felt I wasn’t going in the direction I wanted with my career choice.
Full Sail University
I knew I still wanted to use art in whatever career decision I made, but wasn’t sure yet how to apply it. Another love of mine is movies, and while watching the special features of the “Lord of the Rings” (as a nerd I had a tendency to do, though one should never admit this publicly) I became very interested in the digital arts. So I researched schools that taught the skills I would need for this field and found Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. I enrolled in their accelerated paced computer animation program and received my Associates Degree in Computer Science, focusing on character and environment modeling for my demo reel. The program involved learning multiple software packages including Autodesk Maya (at the time Alias), Apple Shake, Adobe Photoshop, and a lot late nights and tight deadlines in nearly every course (each 4 weeks long). Learning how to meet those deadlines under pressure is probably the skill I value most that I received from the school. I’d recommend the school to anyone serious about getting into the entertainment industry as I loved the work environment and labs the school provided, the teaching staff was top notch, and of course living in Orlando wasn’t too shabby either (I still miss it a bit actually).
Breaking In – T8Design
However after graduating, one thing I quickly learned was breaking into the video game industry and film industry to be very competitive. I knew it wouldn’t be easy getting that first gig, but after countless reels sent out with no leads and money quickly running out, I was forced to move back to Iowa. I took a job welding and doing painting at a train car repair factory back in Oelwein, while still working on my 3d art at nights. It was definitely a frustrating time but if nothing else it taught me the value of hard work and to appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given since even more. It was a bit later when I received a lead for a job at a web company called T8Design, a relatively new company that offered flash based web services to companies.
While they were interested in my 3d capabilities, they had more work for me as a flash developer. At least it was a start. While I had classes in web development as part of my Full Sail studies, I had never considered the career for whatever reason, and while working at T8Design I began to ask myself why I hadn’t . I was trained in Adobe Flash here and helped to create web sites for small companies and community banks as well as flash web presentations. It allowed me to show my creative side in the design phase as well as presentation with Flash animation, and use that same attention to detail I loved to put in my art when coding the sites.
After over a year and a half of employment, one setback leads to a step forward. T8 was forced to make some cutbacks to its staff, and I was laid off. Within 2 days, however, I received a called form Aaron Schurman who I had a chance to meet while working at T8, and he offered me a freelance project creating a site for game developers/publishers Phantom EFX. The site was for a game being developed by a partner studio called 8monkey labs, and was their first console release called “Darkest of Days”. Once the site was complete I continued to get more oppertunties working on game assets such as 2d animated sequences done in After Effects and designed some UI interfaces for it.
After the work for Darkest of Days was done, Phantom EFX offered me a full time position becoming their webmaster. I take great pride in the fact that I was told I had “earned” my employment ship as a result of showing dedication and quality work. I’ve now been there 3 years, and I wear quite a few hats these days working on everything from site management and creation, web ads and newsletters to game art and social media management. It’s a pretty amazing gig that has me working on something new every week. What I love most is being able to see through a project from start to end and watching it evolve along the process into the finished product. Another huge plus at Phantom is definitely the people I work with. I gotta say if you can find a job with people that you can mesh with creatively and personally, there are few better benefits than that. After all, it’s people that make a business successful, and the people that work at Phantom EFX are by far the companies strongest asset.
Freelance, This Blog, and The Future
Recently I’ve devoted some of my spare time to take on freelance projects and try to help small businesses develop their own online presence. I’ve really begun backing WordPress as a CMS, and am working on making so all my project utilize this awesome community. I’d love to start working on making some plug ins, and am currently working on a couple themes to release. There are also things in the online marketing world that are new to smaller companies such as social media and Google Places that I try to promote people to take advantage of. I’m starting a blog to hopefully return the favor forward so many developers did for me by providing the knowledge I’ve learned thus far in my career. I hope to stay pretty consistent with having a solid article written every two weeks. Besides basic html/css/wordpress tutorials and the all important random rants, I think it’d be great to share some of the things I did being a web developer in a band to promote that band so that people who maybe don’t have a clue can maybe get a good start on using the web to promote their music.
In my free time I love live music and play in several bands. I was the singer/guitarist for Grave Corps, a horror punk misfits-inspired band, for 3 years and now play guitar in Beneath the Palace and sing for an unannounced project of mine. I’d like to try and work with the local music scene and often offer my services to artist to help them get their names out there. I’m also a hardcore gamer (which I’m pretty sure is a requirement working at a game studio), and a hardcore Hawkeye and Cub fan. I’m lucky that I have an amazing girlfriend that also put ups with all of the above and when I’m not glued to my computer working, we love to travel, catch concerts and sporting events, movies, and try to just get out and explore and try random things…live life, that sort of thing.
You can find a lot more about me by following my amazing life on my blog here!