My 12th-grade art teacher encouraged me to pursue art. After two and a half years of fine art studies at a liberal arts college in Montana, my focus shifted to commercial art, again a decision influenced by my core teacher. His advice to me: “Commercial art is difficult. It’s all about the detail and about doing it over and over until it’s exactly right.” That advice horrified me but cemented me firmly in the details as I pursued my visual communications degree at the Seattle Art Institute.

Graduating in December of 1986 left me with a choice, stay in Seattle or move to L.A. My brother was already working in L.A. and gave me the opportunity to live with him. Arriving without a single contact or job lead, my marketing strategy was simple – the yellow pages. I mailed letters to every design and creative firm in the book and then started following up with calls three days later. On call number 10, I landed my first interview and a creative job with a direct marketing firm in Malibu.

Over the next eight years, I worked as a freelance artist at various firms in L.A. By 1994, the city was changing fast. It was time to move on. Being familiar with the Northwest, I returned to Washington state, via a one-way airline ticket and an interview with a start-up print and copy shop in Sequim. The owner, Susan LeRoux, hired me that day to be the creative side of the shop. She was my guardian angel. I owe everything I have done in my recent career to the opportunity and wisdom I was graciously given by Susan.

My move to Seattle came in October of 1997. For my fiance, Karen, and I, it was time for a change. By December, I was working for a tech start-up that was a pioneer in its industry. They needed a graphic artist. My willingness to jump into the unknown landed me the job. Over my 15-plus years of employment, I learned that details matter, persistence pays off and change means opportunity.

Jumping forward to February 2015. After a short stint as contract video editor, I was hired by Zonar Systems to transition the reliance on outside contractors by designing and producing marketing collateral in-house as the senior graphic designer on the marketing team. I developed a good understanding of marketing and brand management principles and how to visually communicate the intended message. As a member of the team, I worked on the visual communications for lead generation, events, product marketing, PR, customers, our partner network and employees.

David McLean

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