Who are you and what do you do?
I am Joseph Gonzalez, a husband, father, artist, photographer and senior art director for +WeCreate Media in Valparaiso, IN.
Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?
My work tends to bleed over into my play and vice versa. I mainly focus on painting monsters and taking photos to earn some extra cash. My hobbies range from creative foraging to basketball and hanging with my G-Unit.
Where are you from?
I was born on the South Side of Chicago (South Side!!!) and then moved to Whiting when I was 12. I grew up in NWI (Whiting, Hammond, Munster) and now live in Valparaiso.
What are the top tools you need to do your job?
Good headphones, Music, whiteboard, paper, pencil/pen, google, and my brain. I also use the adobe creative suite, an iMac pro and dual monitors.
How did you get started?
How much time do we have? The short version is that in 2001 I went to the Illinois Institute of Technology and earned my associates degree in Graphic Design. After graduating I couldn’t find a job so I went back to school but at the Illinois Institute of Art and earned my BA in Visual Communications. While in school for my BA I landed a job at Moran Design in downtown Hammond, IN. I learned a ton, screwed up a ton and got to work on some big local projects. Once I graduated with my BA I started a family and was hired at the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, which is the parent foundation that owns the Community Healthcare System (Community Hospital in Munster, St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart and St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago) I worked in the Corporate Communications department for nearly 11 years. I am currently the Senior Art Director for +WeCreate Media in Valparaiso, IN. We are a small gang of creative hurricanes that primarily works in the Hospitality industry for local and national clients.
What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?
Being selfish. I’ve accomplished a lot in my short career but it all came with some sort of sacrifice. From relational issues to health issues pursuing my passion has come with the good and the bad. I learned that there must be a balance in your life. Be it time spent, mentally or physically being present and not taking the people around you for granted have all been struggles that I delt and continue to deal with. These days I try not to fail at anything more than two days in a row. Once it gets to that point then something isn’t right in my life and I take a moment to refocus and get back on track.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
Learn critical thinking skills. Learn to think your way down the customer experience and think through creative solutions. Never stop learning, sharpen your skills but continue to learn whatever craft your trade is in. Lastly, network, network and network use all this access for good and actually reach out to people and let them know you exist. With that comes personality. Have some and don’t be a stick in the mud.
What’s next for you?
Not sure, I want to continue to work on my own blog and start creating content that matters. I also want to open a donut shop and make monster donuts.
Who/what inspires you and why?
This one is hard. Over time the answer to this question has changed for me. In the beginning I had very specific people in the design industry that I looked up to. I loved their work and it pushed me to become better. But these days those people who were so out of reach are now replaced with my peers and many local creatives that are doing killer shit. That inspires me the most is when I get an email from Judith Mayer with updates about her work and all the typetastic stuff she’s doing or when I hear my partner in crime Kevin Bruinsma talk about running and gunning in the city on a video shoot. The examples and stuff my close design peeps are doing is incredible and inspiring. I can go down the line with my team at work and each day i can pick something out that inspires me. I think I have a great appreciation for the talent around me and the constance source of inspiration I can tap into. Bottom line, stop being inspired by shit online and surround yourself with real humans that move you and challenge you.
What do you love about Northwest Indiana?
The diversity. I’m somewhat in a little monoculture being in Valpo but I grew up with a wide variety of people. With that comes different perspectives and different ways of life. I often listen to people talk who have no clue about the way the rest of the world lives day in and day out. It’s scary and humbling at times to know that within 20 miles you can cross multiple economic and socially diverse communities in the Region.
What resources are you finding to educate yourself?
Youtube. Fast, quick, start/stop, rewind/fast forward. Its magic. It’s like the encyclopedia Britannica come to life. I love youtube for that reason alone. I’ve learned new skills, new techniques and how to fix a dishwasher in one place. Who needs college when we have youtube. I wish more people, a.k.a. My children would use it to learn instead of dumb videos.
Where can we find you? (web & social media)
Web: www.miracletwentyone.org. That’s homebase for my artwork, photography, design and blog.
Web: www.wecreatemedia.com Love these guys and this place, you can check out our latest projects at WeCreate.