What motivates you to mentor creatives?
What’s your current role and origin story as a creative?
I’ve recently pivoted into creative agency work and joined Publicis Groupe as a Design Director. In this role, I support the Global Marketing team by creating presentations and strategic experiential elements for global and regional pitches and programs.
Previously, I’ve spent 6 years in financial services as a visual designer for both Citigroup and Moody’s Corporation, where I developed branded print and digital marketing assets for international markets. At Moody’s, I refreshed our presentation design style and elevated the UI design system by developing a slate of Webflow microsites for key strategic initiatives.
In my early career, there was a strong focus on print design and production. For 7 years at Staples, I coordinated the design and production of print materials for Central Jersey businesses in one of the top ten busiest Copy & Print Centers nationwide.
I’ve spent most of my childhood and academic career studying and honing my craft in fine art, specifically in traditional painting (oil on canvas), figure drawing and digital/concept art.
What creative work(s) are you the proudest of?
I am most passionate about work that has social impact: bringing awareness to the many injustices in our world today and promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace.
As a senior at Rutgers University (Mason Gross School of the Arts), I explored how graphic designers create powerful social commentary similarly to the great painting masters of several art movements. This body of work culminated in The Pursuit of Happiness, a Salon-style display of typographic posters and 3D renderings based on three paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Drawing on visual and contextual parallels between past and present, sociohistorical comparisons are made on the basis of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+. The viewer is being asked why and how are these groups continuing their fight for equality.
Years later at Moody’s, I helped evolve the multichannel campaigns for DE&I and talent acquisition initiatives. For Black History Month, I created a series of typographic posters and virtual backgrounds that celebrates past, present and future figures who exemplify Black Excellence in America. This work was timely, as it soon coincided with George Floyd’s death and a nation faced with a crescendo of senseless, racially-motivated violence toward Black people in America.
What’s your current “creative studio”/desk setup like?
My home office is a shared space with my partner, and it is filled with visuals that bring us a bit of nostalgia. On his side, there are several posters of Final Fantasy XIV, befitting for an avid gamer who loves the multiplayer online role-playing game.
On my side, there is a curated collection of my favorite superhero shows: the ultimate 90’s phenomenon called Power Rangers and the international anime hit Sailor Moon. Looking at these figures amid an intense workday is a colorful reminder of pure childhood bliss: watching Saturday morning shows with Eggo waffles and chocolate milk.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Visiting museums and art galleries, walking around Jersey City or NYC on a beautiful day, and traveling to new destinations near and far. These all inspire me to take pause, reflect and evaluate, and absorb the creativity around me.
New York City is home and a constant source of inspiration. Along with the crazy hilarious things that occur only in New York, it’s a confluence of brilliant art, clever advertising and different brand voices speaking to us. Recently, I attended the Dave LaChapelle retrospective entitled Make Believe at Fotografiska. LaChapelle’s commentary on celebrity culture is extraordinary via his extensive body of vibrant hyper-surreal photography. Similarly, I’m looking forward to seeing the Thierry Mugler Couturissime retrospective at Brooklyn Museum.
However, New York City’s hustle culture can feel intense at times — mentally, physically and spiritually. Travel allows me to experience art, design and well-being through a larger cultural lens. I greatly appreciate how a healthy work-life balance is embraced in places like the Mediterranean and Latin America.
Above all, my partner Will and our quirky, temperamental dog Nikko inspire me to be a more compassionate and patient man.
Do you have a ritual, or time of day that unleashes your creative powers?
I find myself most productive in the afternoon and late at night. The night brings a stillness and peace that allows a higher level of creativity and concentration. Night owls unite.
A limited social media presence is maintained for my mental health. However, I am inspired by LinkedIn’s creative community, including:
- the children’s book illustrations and concept art of Nikkolas Smith
- the vibrant retro-inspired work of solopreneur Jade Purple Brown
- the killer fashion photography of Ahmad Barber and Donté Maurice (AB + DM Studio), Max Hemphill, and Joshua Kissi
- the profound insights of cultural and brand strategist Dr. Anastasia Kārkliņa Gabriel, Ph.D
- the advocacy that Pabel Martinez and Noel Claudio are doing for the Latinx community
- and the incredible user experiences created by the Webflow community
When I’m hard on myself during the creative process, I am reminded to fail forward with the wise words spoken by artist and former Rutgers classmate Jamian Juliano-Villani: “Being conscious of fucking up assassinates creativity.”
To reduce stress, I play video games like Mortal Kombat or Injustice 2. And listening to music brings a flow state of mind.
What’s an album that changed your life?
Along with the disco albums (Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, Thelma Houston) played by my grandmother when I was younger, my earliest exposure to electronic music was eurodance like Darude, Robert Miles, and Eiffel 65 (laughs). During my teenage years, I started to enjoy dance / electropop mixes of hit songs. Like the Thunderpuss Mix of Whitney Houston’s It’s Not Right but It’s Okay.
But in 2008, David Guetta’s One Love album and his collaboration with Kelly Rowland on the track When Love Takes Over informed my love for EDM. For me, electronic music is celebratory, representing a mind and body free of restriction or limiting beliefs. It helped me grow into a proud gay Afro-Latino in a world that doesn’t always embrace those intersectional layers of identity and being.
Along with Guetta, the following artists are on repeat:
Afro-electronic artists like Black Coffee, Themba and Kaytranada
alternative or progressive house artists Rüfüs Du Sol and Ben Bohmer
tropical house and electropop artists Kygo, Major Lazer and Calvin Harris
deep house artists Kaskade and Zhu
*Kelly Rowland, we need you to collab with David Guetta for another dance album please.