One memory that always makes me laugh is when I was young, my family went on vacation to this beautiful bed and breakfast in the mountains. And every day, while everyone else was out hiking or swimming, I would wake up, go to the pool, sit on a lounger – and cross-stitch. Like, all day long! Haha! I was definitely living my best David Hockney fantasy. I was always doing something creative, which informed who I am today – a piano-playing, needle-pointing graphic designer.
After I graduated high school I had no clue what I wanted to do, so I took a year off and worked construction, siding houses with my cousin. As anyone who knows me can tell you, that’s not a very Aaron thing to do (see: cross-stitching by the pool). It wasn’t until I reconnected with an old friend who was taking a design course that I considered design as an option. Immediately, it seemed like the obvious career path for me. I enrolled in the same program as my friend and got a design and illustration diploma. When that was finished, I wanted to keep learning, so I moved to Calgary and received my Bachelor of Design at the Alberta University of the Arts, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
During school I did little freelance gigs and worked at a print shop, scanning and digitalizing mountains of corporate documents. Fun! A couple months after I received my BDes, I moved to Toronto and accepted a role as an editorial designer at Hambly & Woolley. I worked there for a couple years before I moved to Art & Mechanical, where I’m currently working today.
The best piece of advice I received was to move across the country.
During my third year at the Alberta University of the Arts, I was able to intern with my mentor, Rita Sasges, who offered me a design position upon my graduation. Awesome! Great! Done! But when it was getting closer to end of the year, we sat down together and she talked to me about spreading my wings and moving to a bigger city. While this wasn’t initially what I had planned, I forged ahead and booked flights to Toronto and New York. I had the opportunity to meet with agencies like GQ and Pentagram, which really ignited a new underlying passion in me. That passion led me to Toronto, and I know stepping away from what I knew and saying yes to new adventures allowed me to grow as a person – and also expand my design mentality. Thanks, Rita!
I’m currently designing a graphic tee program to benefit this amazing charity, the Obakki Foundation. Obakki has a product line called The Essentials, and 100% of the net proceeds from their sales support the Obakki Foundation’s basic needs programs, which provide access to clean water, education, food security and medical care. I can’t wait to share them when they’re done, but in the meantime please go check out the amazing work they do at obakkifoundation.org.
Don’t let the pressure to constantly create consume you.