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Meet Costa Mesa Graphic & Web Designer: Matthew Assell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Assell.

Matthew, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
While growing up in the midwest, I got into riding BMX through copying my older brother. This introduced me to all of the media tied in with the sport. After quickly finding out that I wasn’t going to turn pro anytime soon for my riding ability, I started to slowly fall in love with the attitude and visuals that came from the community.

After shrugging my way through high school, I spoke with a counselor that explained what graphic design was. This sort of set me on a crash course to A. become a graphic designer in the bike industry. & B: move to Southern California. (I don’t do cold winters)

My college years were spent lurking around the design department of Northern Illinois University in search of my ticket out to the west coast. During my last year in school, I was lucky enough to work at Rule29 Creative under the creative direction of Justin Ahrens. The experiences and connections that were made during that internship are what really got me moving in the right direction, and I’m forever grateful! Big shout-out to Justin and the R29 family! (especially Dawn Bjork)

It all ended up paying off and I made the move out west shortly after graduating. I now live and work in Orange County as the Digital Designer for Felt Bicycles. Although it’s pretty hard to complain, I’m still excited and anxious to see what the next couple years will bring.

Has it been a smooth road?
Although the road has been pretty smooth, it has definitely had some sacrifices. I walked into my first college course ready to devote my time in school to studying and pushing my career along. I bypassed the usual alcohol-fueled weekends and back-to-back mini-relationships, so I could really focus on honing my design skill set. Although it never really felt like a major sacrifice, I definitely wish I would have loosened up a little during those 3 years. My liver is pretty stoked, though.

Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
With how much has changed over the last 10 years, It’s hard to even begin to guess where things are headed. As do-it-yourself web editors become more refined, I feel like designers will be pushed to show details on why their solution is superior. It’s not an original thought by any means, but I think it will be pushed to an extreme. I don’t see this as a bad thing, though. Just a simple evolution.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you over the course of your career?
My life became a lot more enjoyable once I started to embrace the process. I always caught myself looking at finished products on Behance and wondering what designers were doing differently to create such strong work. I’m not saying it turned me into a design wizard overnight, but it makes it so much less daunting during the beginning stages. Breaking things down into a ton of smaller steps is key! Making time for it, in the beginning, can seem like a gamble on projects with shorter deadlines, so it took a few failures before it finally became a consistent step in my workflow.

That and I’m continually purchasing prints for wall space that I don’t have. I’m pretty sure it’s an addiction.

Let’s change gears – is there any advice you’d like to give?
I think it’s really important to take time to browse through work that comes from sources other than what the design industry provides for inspiration. This is something I failed to do while in school because I was crippled by the idea of creating something that only I would appreciate. While working at Rule29, my Creative Director stomped those fears out by bringing up how much competition is out there, and without that little dash of individuality, it’s easy to get lost in the mix. I’m all about the action sports industry, so I tend to start my day hovering through that content with my morning coffee.

It’s definitely more of a long-term tip, but it can be the decider when you’re up against others for your dream position.

Contact Info:

1-02 2-03 3-01Image Credit:
Nils Nilsen, Josh lee, Brian Macdonald

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