I want to work with those who see these disruptions as opportunities to create a new way to live.
Hello, my name is Frank. I’m a strategist, UX designer and visual designer with a passion to create solutions that matter. Re-invention is the cornerstone of who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. The most exciting part is the anticipation of what is to come and how I’ll choose to be a part of creating it.
What I Offer and Contribute
I love to play at the intersection of strategy, design thinking and UX design. Working in this “sweet spot” exposes me to a diverse array of content and information that’s constantly opening my mind to new perspectives. The unique insights I gain from casting such a wide net allows me to approach each project with a beginner’s mind and help client see their problems and challenges in new ways.
Thinking laterally, creating mind-maps of external and internal forces and developing it all into story arcs provides a holistic view of the challenge I am working on. The result is a visual journey that allows me to create a shared foundation between my colleagues and clients to work from and begin developing solutions. The larger the challenge, the more excited I am to be involved in finding that thread, that story, that linchpin that unravels the tangled ball of ideas into a simple and emotional message.
What I Like to Do
I started working at Unboundary in 2009 while finishing my last month of graduate school at Portfolio Center. It was an exciting opportunity and I was happy to have a chance to get some good experience. It’s funny to think back now and remember my first big project was helping to write the action script for a FedEx Digital Annual Report. What I never expected then was that a year and half later I would be a Principal leading strategy and design for FedEx and Coke.
Unboundary is a unique place with a great history. As a transformation design firm they are a hybrid of consultancy, strategy and design and focus on helping Fortune 500 companies navigate large-scale change. It’s also the leading sponsor of TEDxAtlanta, which basically means that for two days of year I get paid to have genius beamed into my head. One of the most amazing parts of Unboundary, though, is the freedom it provides to create the career you want to have.
When I was hired in October of 2009,I really wasn’t sure what my role would be. Even as an intern I was not that busy and there didn’t seem to be much design work that wasn’t already being attended to. What there was a lot of, though, was a lack of digital knowledge. I saw that gap and decided to make filling it my purpose at Unboundary. Over the next year I created a User Experience position for myself and helped the rest of Unboundary learn about how digital design had changed and was changing, and how that impacted the work we were doing. I had never worked at a place before that was so willing to empower their employees to take control and lead like that. It was this attribute that opened the greatest opportunity for me at Unboundary, Nonprofit-share.
Nonprofit-share was my first experience in the social design space and it allowed me to merge my design skills and my passion to make the world a better place. It was the perfect complement to the work I was doing at Unboundary at the time, and I quickly built a reciprocal process of learning from Unboundary and applying it to Nonprofit-share and vice verse. It was this dual experience that opened the door to my continually working in social design through side projects such as Good Thinking, Hope Builds, Empowerment Institute and Untie Atlanta.
The multitude of roles this dual experience exposed me to has been one of the greatest learning experiences and reinventions of myself I’ve been through. In the course of four years and a ton of reading, I’ve gone from a graduate with design skills to a strategist and design thinker with empathy and understanding for the client and business side of design. I’ve also come to have a better understanding that I want to be involved designing social change solutions that empower people to live better lives.
I’ve been fortunate to have so many great mentors throughout my life. They’ve all made a huge and unique impact on who I am today, and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to give that back to others. One of the most immediate ways I’ve begun to do that is by teaching at my former school, Portfolio Center.
Paying it Forward
Over the last three years I’ve taught a range of classes from an Intro to Digital Design class; to being an advisor to graduates; to strategic classes that focus on the intersection of business, design and society. Teaching has been an incredible way to keep in touch with a creative process free of restraints, and to strengthen my ability to critique and approach projects with a beginners mind.
Teaching is something I deeply enjoy and I hope I find a way to always teach, even if I don’t have the opportunity do it formally through a school.
“The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities.” Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new, see something old from a different point of view and approach things I have yet to understand with a greater sense of empathy. In short, everyday teaches me the importance of approaching life with a beginner’s mind.
I take this approach to my life because it keeps each day exciting, it gives me the courage to embrace change and allows me to see every new challenge, success and failure as an opportunity to learn.
The Journey to Here
So, how did I get here? Well, it’s been a long journey.
After graduating high school, having every college I applied to accept me but unable to afford attending any of them, I was watching my dreams of being a creative pass by me. Fortunately, and somewhat luckily, I was introduced to an independent figure drawing class taught by Jeff Fisher, a 20 year independent Illustrator. The class kept my hand moving and kept me connected to a creative community. I had no idea I would be part of that community for 11 years and that it would have such a profound impact on my life.
From 1996 through 2007 I had the privilege of learning about art and life through Jeff’s figure drawing class with a group of fellow creatives, dreamers and ultimately friends. I learned patience while working through hours of failed starts and over-worked images. I learned how to focus and dedicate myself to working though bad days where it felt like my hand must be broken because I was drawing so bad. How one worked through these hours and days was where figure drawing offered valuable lessons beyond perspective, form and the success in failing.
Learning how to break through preconceived notions is one of the best lessons anyone can learn and definitely one of the best I learned from drawing the human figure. It’s not the most important, though. Learning how to put everything you have into each drawing you do only to remove that personal emotion when you work literally gets torn up in your face and take it professionally, is a lesson I’m grateful to have learned so young, and one that will hopefully always stay with me.
Location class ran for 13 weeks each summer I traveled all over Long Island and New York City drawing in different towns, parks, zoos, festivals and historical sites. 20+ students ranging from seniors in high school to professionals visiting for the day to sketch met every Sunday at that dirty, hot and empty Dunkin Doughnuts parking lot in Smithtown NY at 8:00am. By 8:30 we were on our way to anywhere from the Central Park or the Renaissance Festival in Sterling NY to the Planting Fields in Oyster Bay, Long Island or the Shark competition in Montauk, the furthest east you can go on the Island. Wherever it was, a motley crew would spread out and draw all day, literally.
Arriving back at Dunkin Doughnuts by 6pm would be considered an early day. This is when “class” would begin. Critiquing the work from the day was when class really started. It was the time to learn how to present, how to steal, how to give feedback and how to receive it. It was by the far the best part of the day–the reward of what you could learn from your friends and peers is invaluable.
Arriving in the Creative Field
Being a part of that creative community worked. In 2000 — after a six month crash course in Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark (InDesign didn’t exist yet), Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver—I landed my first design job. I was the in-house designer for a high-end luggage company, Briggs & Riley Travelware on Long Island. It was my first professional creative job and I made a promise to myself to never work outside of this industry again. A promise, I’m happy to say, I’ve kept for thirteen years.
During the three years I was at Briggs & Riley I was also teaching at the school I had attended to learn the production side of design, Hendricks Institute on Long Island. It was my first experience teaching and I fell in love immediately. Aside from being able to give back, it was an amazing way to keep learning.
By 26, Hendricks had closed and I had left Briggs & Riley to pursue a freelance career. To say I was scared is an understatement, but I was also really excited to have gone from a sales guy in an electronics store to having my own freelance gig in just four years. Life was good!
The next three years shared some of the best experiences and definitely the single worst experience of my life. I was learning the business side of design, how to protect myself and my work and the responsibility it takes to be on your own. I was also dealing with the passing of my brother.
It’s hard to overstate the effect my brother has had on my life, my character and my outlook on life. Growing up with someone who has a terminal disease gives you a completely different perspective on life. You quickly realize, hopefully, how damn lucky you are to be healthy and the unlimited potential you possess to do amazing things. This realization drives me everyday to make a difference in the world, whether that’s simply making someone smile or creating something that has the potential to change lives. It’s what gets me out of bed everyday and inspires to inspire others the way my brother inspired me, and so many others.
A New Chapter Begins
In 2007 my freelance was drying up and I realized I needed to the expand capabilities if I was going to stay in this field. I was introduced to Portfolio Center through a friend of mine from figure and location class and I saw the opportunity to fill some gaps in what I was able to offer. I had no idea that the 2-year experience would completely change the trajectory of my life, reveal an entire world of creativity to me I never knew existed and that an unexpected opportunity, interning at Unboundary, would keep me in Atlanta another 4 years. But that is exactly what happened.