As a kid growing up in the heart of Philadelphia, only a few blocks away from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I won my first design contest at the tender age of five. There was a panel on the back of a box of Apple Jacks cereal that asked for kids to reproduce the Apple Jacks characters, so I grabbed a pencil and busted out a drawing. After sending it in I received a letter in the mail a few weeks later, along with an actual five dollar bill, saying I’d won the contest. Wish I’d kept that letter to show my kids! To find out more about me, keep reading below.
Yes I was one of the kids in the Rocky movie...
If you’ve ever seen the Rocky movies then you’ve seen the exact time and place that I grew up, and in fact, you may have even seen my light blue winter coat in the scene where all the kids are running behind Rocky up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Yes, I was one of those kids in Rocky II, if only for a few seconds, as I was very little and couldn’t keep up all the way to the end. They came to my school and asked us if we wanted to be in it, and I knew it was gonna be a famous movie since Rocky had already been a blockbuster hit. The best part was that Rocky himself (Sylvester Stallone) was the director of both Rocky and Rocky II, and I still remember him in his gray hoodie sitting on the edge of a city fountain, telling us where we were going to run, with steam coming out of his mouth from the cold Philadelphia morning.
How graffiti art influenced me.
I’ve always had a passion and ability for drawing, and that—along with taking the subway to school each day during the evolution of graffiti in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which I literally witnessed the birth of styles still copied today—led me to my passion for letterform design and typography, which in turn informed my choice of major in college at the University of Oregon, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in printmaking and graphic design.
My introduction to Photoshop.
I was lucky enough to love college so much that I didn’t want to graduate right away, and so was able to still be an undergrad student when Photoshop came out. I immediately enrolled in a computer art class at the Philadelphia College of Art (during a summer I was home visiting my mom in between semesters at University of Oregon), of which the use of Photoshop was the main focus, and that led me to embrace the Apple computer platform, as Adobe didn’t even make any of their software for the Windows platform at that time. Combining my love and technique of traditional art making (pencil and paper or watercolor and paper) with the use of a computer and Photoshop (and later Illustrator and Quark and then InDesign), I knew I had found my happy place in terms of a lifelong career in graphic design and illustration.
How I became VaporDave.
Living in Oregon my work has recently focused on the biggest and most lucrative industry within the state, cannabis. Already armed with the appropriate nickname of VaporDave (which I’d gotten inadvertently at a poker game upon first moving to Southern Oregon way back in 2005, when the host of the poker game asked for my number and said he was putting me in his phone as Vapor since I’d brought an old school cannabis vaporizer to the game), my entry into the field of cannabis graphic design was seamless and organic. After freelancing for various farms and dispensaries, I was hired as the Creative Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference, or ICBC. This was a great gig, allowing me to get paid to travel the world and attend the conferences I’d done all the marketing and design for. Alas, Covid killed that business model pretty quickly, and I have now gone back to freelancing as a professionally trained and very experienced graphic designer. Versed in both print design and web design, I still find the job very rewarding and exciting, and would love to help launch a new business or enhance an existing one, so contact me today and we’ll see if we’re a good fit.