SOME THINGS THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

I am a professional engineer (P Eng) and graphic designer (RGD) with proven expertise in building, enabling, and leading successful design teams, as well as facilitating complex multi-disciplinary projects that include both designers and non-designers.

I have been a member of OCAD University's Faculty of Design since 2011, and currently teach Visual Analytics & Data Visualization, as well as Wayfinding & Information Systems. In previous years, I have also taught Typography 1, Typography 2: Structures, Advanced Typography, Communication: Surface/Object/Space (3D design), and Graphic Design 1 core studio.

Outside of OCAD, I hold the position of Head of User Experience (UX) at CaseWare International Inc., a global leader in the development of audit and assurance software for accounting firms, corporations and governments. In this role, I function as the UX leader for CaseWare International and its distributor network, and am responsible for all aspects of CaseWare’s UX competency, including leading the Design, Product Content, and Localization/Translation teams, as well as setting and overseeing the UX strategy across CaseWare’s product portfolio, and aligning UX with all business, product and engineering requirements. 

My specific areas of focus include user research, information architecture, product design, usability testing, content management, technical writing, documentation, and adapting all platforms and products to multiple languages and regions. I also oversee the operationalization of design at CaseWare, including design system development, work prioritization, workflow planning, and the scaling of design for rapid growth.


From Engineering to Graphic Design

Whenever I explain to anyone exactly what I do for a living, the first question that I'm always asked is: How did an engineer end up in graphic design? An interesting question, indeed.

Before attending design school, I worked for over 15 years as a mechanical engineer in a number of industry sectors, including automotive, computer hardware manufacturing, government, and consulting. My final engineering job was in the aerospace industry in North Carolina, designing and manufacturing air navigation and control surface positioning systems for US Navy fighter and electronic warfare aircraft. I also became an expert at navigating the byzantine intricacies of the US Federal Aviation Regulations—perhaps the most incomprehensible series of documents ever written.

My ongoing interest in graphic design and typography, combined with an intense discomfort with the ethical implications of my role as part of the North American military/industrial complex, eventually led me to the Ontario College of Art & Design (now OCAD University), where I entered the graphic design program in 2004.

During the summer of 2007, while still a student at OCAD, I was accepted into the summer design program at the Basel School of Design, where I had the privilege of studying under the direction of legendary German/Swiss designer and educator Wolfgang Weingart. The program eschewed any use of computer technology—we cut type from specimen sheets with x-acto knives, and set it by hand. When Professor Weingart deemed our designs to be acceptable, we were instructed to tape them down. (To this day, I consider the words "tape it!" to be the highest form of design praise.) I returned from Switzerland with an empty wallet but a new insight into typography, composition, colour, and form.

During my time at OCAD, I became interested in the emerging field of information design and data visualization. I quickly came to realize that, given the vast quantity of digital (and analog) information with which we are flooded on a continuous basis, the ability to depict complex information streams visually in a manner easily understood by the average reader would become the single most important skill that a designer could possess. Simply put: those who can control the visualization of data will rule the world.

I was also fascinated by wayfinding—a specialized area of design focused on assisting people in successful and efficient navigation, both of the built (urban) environment and virtual environments such as websites. Wayfinding and information design seemed like a natural fit for the unusual skill set I had acquired through my engineering and graphic design education and professional practice.

In a sense, my job has not changed much from my aerospace days. I am still involved in the field of navigation—however, the end result of my current work is far more beneficial to society!


Specialties

Information design, data visualization, wayfinding systems, user interface design, information architecture, design thinking, design system development, typography, writing/editing, project management, business development, presentation design, public speaking.


Interesting Facts

I was born on the tenth anniversary of the CIA-backed overthrow of the reformist government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.

I once referenced the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in an art history term paper on Édouard Manet, and got away with it. In fact, I received an A+.

I own all 21 issues of deconstructed literary/popular culture magazine SPEAK, designed by Martin Venezky—my most prized design possession.

I find myself compelled to read notoriously difficult works of postmodern literature. During a particularly determined period in my life, I read Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves and Avital Ronell’s The Telephone Book AT THE SAME TIME.


Creative Influences

Édouard Manet, Kazimir Malevich, Wolfgang Weingart, Wim Crouwel, William Butler Yeats, Martin Venezky, SPEAK, Ian Anderson/tDR, 8vo, Jonathan Barnbrook, Peter Saville, Tomato/Underworld, Robert Rauschenberg, Roxy Music, Kate Bush, Joy Division, Tom Waits, Philippe Apeloig, Detroit techno, SLANTED, Autechre, Jacques Derrida, Don DeLillo, James Graham Ballard, Tom Peters, Edward Tufte, Hans Rosling, Kathleen Hanna, Arthur Russell, Mark Z Danielewski, Situationism, and Highland Park single malt whisky.

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