Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in November 2007.
When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an architect or a filmmaker. I drew lots of pictures, mostly pen & ink of monsters and cathedrals. I built clocks and violins and artificial limbs with Legos. It was a typical (I suppose) childhood for a kid who liked to draw. I drew a few yearbook covers for school, and illustrations for other bits.
In 1992, I started playing around with Freehand and Photoshop. I later moved onto Illustrator, and very quickly my use of traditional media dwindled. I fell in love with Helvetica, post-modernism, Emigre and The Designers Republic. I tried and utterly failed to make it as a freelance designer in New York, and oscillated back to software engineering.
At a startup in Virginia in 1998, I was the closest thing they had to a designer, so design I did. The logo, the letterhead, marketing materials, even a trade show booth. It was a non-subtle nod to AIGA and Apple. Garamond Condensed, Bondi Blue and symbols evoking the original Interplay logo were the order of the day. We made tons of one-off products for various clients, skinning our site. Our business model revolved around integrating business data (sourced from InfoUSA) with WHOIS data (sourced from somewhere shady).
We were acquired by AltaVista in 1999, and with that the need for a designer evaporated and I moved to doing coding & software architecture full time. Until I occillated back to game design, that is…