A Brief History of Poor Design

I’ve been a designer my whole life. From early on I was drawing and painting. My introduction to typography came while working at an arts supply store in Minneapolis selling Letraset.

While in college I began painting t-shirts from hand-cut stencils, culminating with recreating the works of Erte, A.M Cassandre and artists of the WPA. This lead me to Kinkos, where I was making dozens of copies every day to take home and cut color separations. Eventually I got a job there, was promoted to night manager and introduced to the Macintosh. Soon I found myself doing freelance work for customers. Eventually I was making enough money to leave Kinkos, and I went to Smart Set — one of Minneapolis’ first Linotronic Typesetting Firms to output PC files to film.

There I learned about Fine Typography from my boss and type mentor Jana Branch. She was a hard taskmaster, but instilled in me an understanding of what real typography was all about. As my skills increased I was given some of their clients’ design work, and eventually reached the point where my off-site workload allowed me to start Poor Design.

The rest, as they say, is history. My earliest clients included the Children’s Theatre Company, Jan Jancort and P. Scott Makela of MCAD fame, Leslie Avchen (Avchen and Jacobi), Steve Sikora (Design Guys), and a host of other designers in town who were still working traditionally. I did a fair amount of consulting and training for firms such as Tim Larsen Design, Fallon McElligott, and even the Billy Graham Association.