I had the pleasure of working with my friends over at Startup Weekend earlier this year on a new version of Startup Weekend titled "Rise of the Designer". "Startup Weekends are 54 hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups." Startup Weekend has always had the business side of things down but has also had a history of lacking in the creative departement. Not only that, they wanted to push creatives to do more than just design.Read More
This year for Priya's birthday, she wanted to "play in the snow". Snowboarding is expensive and a bit of a commitment for the folks who don't have gear, so she decided on tubing! We headed up to Snoqualmie Pass' Tube City and had a blast! After tubing we headed down to North Bend for some grub at the North Bend Bar and Grill. I highly recommend this spot next time you're in the Snoqualmie area. Delicious food/beer and great service. I got this GoPro Hero2 for Christmas and had a chance to document our experience on the slopes. Check it out!Read More
I've often receive flack over the years for not knowing much about film and considering myself a photographer. Truly, I could care less about what people think and always thought "why would I shoot film when it's so much of a hassle?" Well, as time went on I've become more of a commercial shooter which has led to me not having much of a drive to shoot for fun when I'm "off" work.Read More
I don't normally post another person's blog post. In fact, I've never done it before but my good friend Donald DeSantis wrote an awesome piece on education and what it means to him as part of a contest for Vittana. The post is part of the Vittana “Make a Difference” blogger challenge. The contest asks people what education means to them, and how to make a difference in the world. The writer that gets the most retweets and donations in their name “wins” (though the real winners will be the recipients of the loans).
I am currently working on a longterm relationship with Vittana in agreement to produce 1 video per month for about a year. It's important to me to work with companies who want to change the world and Vittana is doing just that. I'm really looking forward to this relationship. You should stop by their site and see what they're all about. For now, read Donald's story about how much of a pain in the ass he was in school.
A sudden rapping of ruler on chalkboard jolted me back to reality. It was my math teacher. The entire class stared at me with looks ranging from bemused to annoyed. “Donald, I don’t care how good a writer you are. Close your notebook and pay attention!”
I loved songwriting. Unfortunately, my school didn’t offer creative writing classes. So instead of sticking to the curriculum, I created my own. Math class became writing class. Problem solved. I had no idea I would be doing this for the rest of my life, replacing formal curriculum with my own lessons. I was only twelve years old.
I sailed through high school in three years. I graduated with good grades. My teachers regarded me as a pain in the ass, but a bright pain in the ass. I continued focusing on music. I paid my classes the smallest amount of attention possible.
I entered the University of Washington in the fall of 1999. Barely seventeen, I was now making music with a mish-mash of backpack rappers whose eclectic style flourished during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I helped promote shows alongside people who later came to symbolize Seattle hip hop. This included folks like Prometheus Brown and Sabzi (before they started Blue Scholars) and Meli, who went on to manage booking for many popular venues in Seattle. If I had put half as much time into my classes as I did into music, I would have been a very successful student. I didn’t.
It was the fall of my freshman year. Our math professor approached the lecture podium. “Overall,” he said, “you guys did quite well on the midterm. Someone, of course, got fifty points: a perfect score.” He stopped to let the 400 person lecture hall groan in unison. “The lowest score,” he paused dramatically, “was one point. One point out of fifty.” The very cute girl in the front row let out a pitying laugh. It was the kind of laugh you laugh when a hapless puppy falls off a chair, or trips down some stairs. It was the kind of laugh you feel bad for laughing, but the kind you can’t help yourself from laughing. I didn’t laugh because I knew what she didn’t: she was laughing at me. My stomach sank and face flushed a deep red.
I ran after my professor when the class ended. “I’m the one,” I said breathlessly. “I’m the guy who got one point on the midterm.” He looked surprised, then reassured me. “I wouldn’t assume that. Wait until you get the midterm back.” “No,” I insisted, “it was me. I know it was me.” He looked at me, now quite seriously. “This was not a hard test. One point is basically what you get for putting your name on the midterm. Have you talked to disabled student services? You likely have a learning disability that they can help you to identify.”
I stood gaping at him. The problem wasn’t a disability. It was neglect. But in that moment I realized my unwitting descent from wunderkind to flaming disaster. I’d like to say this wake-up call turned me into a model student, but it wouldn’t be true. The next quarter I barely passed Intro to Computer Science. I enrolled in Two Dimensional Design and the instructor gave me the lowest possible passing grade at UW: 0.7. (In a satisfying twist, design and software development are the two things I do best these days.)
After a miserable run at UW, I decided that leaving on my own accord would be better than getting kicked out. I had no desire to slow down on music and doubted my ability to focus on anything else. Around that time, I heard Western Washington University allowed some students to design degrees based on their interests. I transferred and began working with WWU faculty to create a curriculum. My classes ranged from recording arts to music theory, communications to web design. For the first time in years, I excelled.
At 20 years old, I moved back to Seattle and opened a creative arts space. It was on 10th and Pike, next to what’s now Neumo’s on Capitol HIll. It was primarily a recording studio, though we had a large art gallery and event space. Prometheus Brown (who I knew from UW) came through. Macklemore would drop by and show off unfinished songs from Language of My World. Grieves was there constantly, hanging out and working on beats. This was where I met Kyle and where Mike Folden and I laid the foundation for a really amazing friendship.
Over time, I’ve become better at spotting my disinterest and bowing out early rather than persisting in obligation. This sounds obvious, but it took me years to understand and even longer to practice.
For “nontraditional students” like me, the future has never looked brighter. We have the Khan Academy and iTunes U in our pockets. Standford runs classes online and opens them to the public. Private companies like Treehouse and Code Academy teach us to code for less money than we spend on cable television.
This future may be bright, but it’s unevenly distributed. In 2007 I met a Spanish language instructor in Oaxaca. He had lived in the U.S. for ten years and only recently returned to Mexico. I asked him what he missed most about the states. He paused, then looked up and smiled. “The libraries. They were amazing. You would walk in and be surrounded by all of this knowledge. If you wanted to take a book home, they let you.” This response humbled me.
Most of the world doesn’t have broadband connecting them to Khan Academy and iTunes U. They probably don’t have a public library and community college in every town. They may face economic, gender, or religious discrimination. The greatest challenge I faced was my own single-mindedness (and it nearly sunk me).
However circuitous and humiliating, my education was important. It imparted the patience required to gain technical competence in a subject (recording arts) and the self-confidence to actually do something with those skills. And while my life in software appears very different than my life in music, the core is unchanged. I wake up every day and get to create whatever it is I can imagine. I’m incredibly grateful.
Education is a gift I took for granted and struggled to accept. Today I value it above all else. Here’s to the dreamers and underdogs, whether they’re following lesson plans or creating their own.
Happy New Year! I hope the holiday season treated you all very well and you're all set for 2012. I don't want to ramble on too much but wanted to share with you what most inspired me in 2011.Read More
Happy holidays ya'll! I can't believe we're so close to closing out 2011. It's been a helluva year and I'm super pumped for the next. Last year around this time, I started shooting video. I never knew what that would turn into. I've always thought of myself as a photographer but as time went on, I felt more and more comfortable in my video shoes (which are usually Vans). The video below is truly some of my best work. I put a lot of time into it. There was a lot of planning, shooting, editing and I really feel like I found the pace that I like to work at. The main goal here was to tell a story. The song tells a story and we wanted to make sure the video didn't fall short of that.Read More
Digital photography is awesome. It enables us to take endless amounts of photos and share them with the world. One of the big changes (and downfalls) that came with digital photography is less printing. Instead of a dusty old shoebox under the bed, we have hard drives. Instead of that old vinyl photo album, we have slide shows on our computers. As any of you photographers reading this know, when you go to a family function, you're always the guy who has to take pictures. When you do it for a living, sometimes you just want a break to relax and not have to add more work to your schedule. The main hang up for me is the work flow. I love taking photos, I just hate the process after that. I take a bunch of shots from an event and then have to upload them to my computer, sort through them, edit them, export them and then print or share. That's a lot of steps which usually prevents me from ever completing the process. I wanted to change that. I don't want to be known as the friend who takes photos and never uploads or sends out (as I may already be...).Read More
Last month I shot some video for a friend of a friend's big day. When I first received the email request from my buddy, I was hesitant. Weddings can be tricky and I wouldn't have any time to prep, meet with the bride and groom or scout the venue. That made me a bit nervous. He said that "any video" would be great so "just do your thing". "Doing your thing" can also be tricky as most of you artists know. I decided to "just go" and give it a shot. I'm really glad I did. The wedding was beautiful! The location was great and the people we're all so happy. I met a great wedding photographer, Yee Feng (check out his work!) and decided I want to shoot some weddings this summer!
Here's a really short little snippet from the day. Let me know what you think and spread the word if you like it. There's a nice little cluster of buttons below to do so :)