“What started as a project to create a new typeface-identity for the City of San José turned into a bit more as the years went by.”
Looking back to 2013, my graphic design background was quite “of the times” to say the least. I moved down south to LA after high school. The skills I gained from high school were entry level. They did, however, land me a nice internship with a reputable fashion icon, Charlie Lapson, at his then start-up RedCarpetTips.com located in the heart of LA’s Fashion District. There they gave me the motivation to take on more personal projects. I worked on layouts, photo shoots, touch-ups, a bit about networking– how to work under tight deadlines, but most importantly how to work with a little and make it into a lot. My unpaid internship was short lived. I worked at a local Whole Foods Market to sustain me really. It was nice, but I wanted to become more serious about design so I decided I needed help. I headed back north to my roots.
Upon my return to my hometown, I worked at Whole Foods Market for a little over a year, I bought a laptop yet held off in enrolling in college. A few months passed, I had no money, was living on the floor of my mother’s restaurant’s food storage closet. I was lost, to say the least. Yet through it, all design was still on my mind and through my ups and downs, I found guidance and mentors.
Then one day, I set out to design a few things, a logo or symbol as a challenge to myself; the idea was simply to test myself to see what kind of “wave” I could cause, or just do something! I made a Helvetica banner– I hated it. It was everything pop culture was and very distant from my true identity.
It took months of iterations to get to what I now call– ‘Merely Starting Points’. A sleek and stylish emblem-like typeface! It really wasn’t anything. I think I shelved it and decided I need to get my life on track. I sobered up. I enrolled at San Jose City College and took things on a more traditional path because I could soon see I lacked quite a few skill sets.
The design remained stagnant for months posted on my personal Instagram and Tumblr with little attention. Then came an opportunity. – 2016 Screenprint Showdown Contest (Winner). For the 1st Annual San Jose Screen Print Showdown, I selected this piece as my entry. Not knowing what would be the outcome, I was happy, to say the least. The piece was my reflection of the different typographical signs we see in and around the city. It just so happened that I was one of the finalists. Then came the curiosity of what else I could do with the design.
After it had gained recognition and brought a bit of attention, I thought “what could I do with it?” By this time it was 2016– Snapchat had now gained traction as something more than nudes and filters. It served as a platform for people to share important events, daily updates, large public events like Coachella, and more importantly a community for designers via Geofilters. It seemed to be an opportunity to get more use of my design. So– I submitted it… with a little hope of it making it as a permanent Geofilter for the City of would be “designers” or “entrepreneurs”, again I had my doubts.
Now we are here. This design is currently in circulation as a Snapchat Geofilter and available in most of the City of San José, CA. What’s next? Those strong thoughts of creating apparel and garments using this design and a YouTube show I once had are now a reality because of the die-hard fans of the piece. For now, it will serve as a platform to collaborate with other associations, co-op’s, or businesses. It’s not a logo, or a brand, its our style & culture. It’s us!