The Project: Earthmounds was a long time coming. Since college I have been sketching hills with eyes, topped by little trees and houses. I imagined stories playing out, where the anthropomorphic land masses' problems mirrored the problems of the biomes they represented. Over the last decade, I've dedicated more energy toward the concept and it has evolved into an educational brand. Earthmounds aims to connect audiences with nature, helping them empathize with the environment itself through cute characterizations. I've designed and brought to market two decks of Earth Science Flashcards featuring the characters, and share new ones weekly through Earthmounds social media channels.
Takeaways: From design to manufacturing to wholesale sales, Earthmounds forced me to grow a lot as an artist and entrepreneur. I learned to source materials from over-seas, including navigating the intricacies of customs and frieght forwarding. I learned how to file copywrites and trademarks, how to register UPCs, and how to design PDQ/POP displays for retail shelves. I also did cold outreach to retail stores and distributors to carry the flashcards. This project continues to help me focus on honing my art skills to be more polished and commercially viable.
The Project: Edgewater Workbench was a community arts space that offered lasercutting and 3D printing services, as well as design classes for the community.
My Role: I was the founder and ran day-to-day operations. My responsibilities included: bidding jobs, sourcing materials, fabrication, and delivery to clients. I also designed curriculum for and taught community classes on digital fabrication.
Takeaways: My time at Edgewater Workbench was a trial by fire that taught me a lot about how to start and run a business. Aside from running my own service business, I helped other entrepreneurs as they prototyped products and brought their ideas to market. In addition to fabrication services, Edgewater Workbench supported the local creative community, hosting weekly drink and draws, monthly community repair clinics, and after school programming for high school students.
Edgewater Bike Racks (2018)
The Project: Metal bike racks installed throughout the Edgewater community in Chicago.
My Role: While running Edgewater Workbench I was heavily involved in our local chamber of commerce. This involved sitting on local committees, including a committee to design new bike racks. After discussing creative and sculptural concepts, the group needed a functional option. I mocked up something simple that incorporates the neighborhood's logo.
Takeaways: This was my first time designing something that was going to be funcitonal and fabricated by a large shop. It was a good lesson in not trying to reinvent the wheel, almost literally in this instance. I biked around to several neighborhoods and found common measurements of the functional heights and widths of bike racks and used those to inform my design.
Puzzle Truck (2015-2017)
The Project: Puzzle Truck is a three-dimensional wooden puzzle that assembles into a working pull toy.
My Role: My friend James Kitia came to me with the idea of making a toy truck for his kids based on toys he made as a child in Tanzania. Using my lasercutter, we spent years on iterative design and prototyping to developed a finished prodcut worthy of store shelves. James and I also went through the Rogers Park Business Alliance's small business incubator program to help develop a scalable business plan. While the Puzzle Truck isn't currently in production, it remains on the back burner of my mind.
Takeaways: I learned a lot about design and iteration, as well as collaborating and making compromises. We also explored obtaining a patent on the Puzzle Truck, which taught me about design patents vs. utility patents and patenting vs. copywriting.