I am an Emmy-winning Creative Director, Writer, Music Maker, & Dreamer of Dreams. I come from a strong graphic design background as well as a lifetime of being on the front lines of underground music.
I’m a creative thinker that loves challenging projects of all shapes and sizes. I have years of experience in brand identity (naming / taglines / logo design / language systems), strategy and positioning, 360 TV / print / OOH / integrated campaigns, content creation, TV commercials, primetime award shows, graphic design, motion graphics, and experiential wizardry.
I love collaborating with like-minded, multi-disciplinarian braniacs, and I excel in motivating talented weirdos to do amazing work. I write scripts. I pitch. I coerce and convince. I can actually draw. I’m also a music supervisor, culture blogger, and silly meme expert.
I’m a stand-up guy, a fall-down drunk, a good egg, and a badass DJ. I’m also a world traveler, half-decent dancer, ice cream aficionado, and NY Times Crossword Puzzle obsessive compulsive.
Maybe we should work together.
I have been consumed with typography and graphic design for pretty much as long as I can remember.
My first job was painting signs and outdoor murals for local businesses when I was 13. I would carry around folded up newspaper and magazine ads that featured typefaces I liked. I would re-draw each letter by hand and try to invent the letterforms that were missing from that particular piece of reference.
I started my own punk rock fanzine at 14, mastering the finer nuances of press-on Letraset type and the brain-twister that was double-sided xeroxing. Around the same time I started doing flyers and posters for local punk clubs and my own band, Sluggo (we ruled).
After high school I spent a summer in Sydney, Australia, working on a construction crew with my uncles on a downtown skyscraper. I quickly got over my fear of heights. I ate a lot of meat pies. And I got struck with a travel and photography bug that ails me to this day. Please do check out the TRAVEL section of this site for further diagnosis.
I moved to NYC after returning from Australia with two goals: Attend Pratt Institute for graphic design, and become a Hip Hop DJ in the birthplace of the genre. That plan worked out pretty well on both fronts. Brooklyn was a great place to go to college – if you stayed out of the way of the bullets – and it was an even better place to reinvent myself, building my rep as a DJ just as the golden era of Hip Hop was taking shape.
After college, I spent a few wayward years as a traveler, bartender, studio engineer, DJ, aspiring rake, and inhuman denier of sleep. I toured the country a bit, mostly as a solo DJ act, but occasionally as a member of a larger band. The biggest show I think I ever did was opening up for Biggie Smalls in The Virginia beach Coliseum.
When the graphic design itch once again overcame me, I joined the recently formed EyeballNYC as a designer, knowing nothing whatsoever about motion graphics.
My old friend Limore Shur had started the company in his apartment in Brooklyn. He brought on fellow Pratt Alumnus Daniel Fries, and together we built EyeballNYC into one of the nation’s leading motion graphics boutiques. It was here that we established a founding principle that would guide us all in the future: Concept must drive design, not the other way around. A simple mantra, for sure, but an effective one that I apply to my creative work every single day.
As luck would have it, this was a crucial moment in time for us to jump in to the motion graphics market. First, the entire industry was still in a relatively fledgling state, with only a handful of vanguard companies setting the standards. Larger design houses such as Pittard Sullivan and Lee Hunt had only recently begun taking design work away from networks and post production houses – putting it back in the hands of real graphic designers. Secondly, desktop computers and animation software had finally reached the point where they were extremely affordable and more than capable of generating broadcast-ready graphics. And lastly, Cable TV networks were exploding exponentially, creating an ever-growing need for content, design, and packaging of all sorts.
Within a year or so, our work for cable networks started to get noticed by a few of these bigger shops, who began farming out work to us. This continued until we started competing against those same shops for jobs, at which point they promptly stopped calling us. It was around this time that I was made partner, with a small stake in the company.
We moved to Lafayette & Broome in Soho in 1997, taking over an old sweatshop, and cramming in as many designers and animators as the work demanded. Most of the startup shops in our industry soon followed us to this sleepy edge of Soho and Chinatown.
Things really took off at our new location. We found ourselves involved in bigger and broader projects than ever before, with a lot of repeat business from loyal clients with whom we built great working relationships.
I left EyeballNYC in 2000, selling my small chunk of the biz for greener pastures: Creative Director at The Shooting Gallery in the new cross-media advertising agency they were developing. I think the big buzz word of the day was “convergence”. When is that arriving, again? I was there for a year and a half, working on brand identities, motion graphics, web design, web content, TV commercials, and integrated film campaigns.
The Shooting Gallery was a great learning experience, and a helluva lot of fun. It was also a great life lesson in shady corporate practices and extravagant spending via unlimited strip club Buffalo wings (I wish I was kidding). A year and a half later, the internet bubble burst, imploding the company, and setting me free to pursue other interests.
I went freelance and developed a TV pilot and 10-episode series called Kung Faux. We took terrible Hong Kong Kung Fu movies from the 70s and overdubbed them with NY rappers like Prince Paul, Guru, Masta Ace, and Jeane Grae. I created the pilot episode from scratch: editing the films, directing the talent, doing the sound design, music, and all graphics and post production. The pilot got us a deal with Tommy Boy Films. I completed the entire first season of the show (10 episodes) and then moved on. The show was picked up by the Fuse network as well as elsewhere overseas.
I began freelancing back at EyeballNYC in early 2002. Things were going great, and within 6 months I rejoined the full time staff as Associate Creative Director.
I remained at Eyeball up until October 2006, working with Limore, their amazingly talented staff, and a wonderful extended family of freelancers. We grew steadily and managed to consistently produce work that challenged and inspired us. I am immensely proud of the contributions I made there. We fought constantly to avoid being pigeon-holed, and we insisted on never resting on any one particular style. We accomplished this again and again by returning to that founding principle: concept must drive design.
I worked around NYC as a freelancer, primarily at VH1, Stardust, and Leroy + Clarkson, with a healthy dose of direct to client work. I also did as much world traveling and 5-day weekends in Fire Island as I could muster.
In November of 2009, I took a staff position at Leroy + Clarkson as Creative Director.
In late 2009 I won an Emmy Award with Kyle Baron Cohen for a TV commercial we created for the Discovery Channel. Now all I need is a Tony, a Grammy, an Oscar, and an NAACP image award and I’ll be ready to retire.
I was Managing Creative Director at Leroy + Clarkson up until Feb of 2015. We had an amazing staff and extended family of braniacs that produced great creative work day in and day out. We evolved into a unique boutique creative agency. I likened us to “The Wolf” from Pulp Fiction. Whatever your brand needed, call us, and it was taken care of. 360 campaigns. Branding. Identity. Strategy. Design. Animation. Naming. TV. Print. Digital. Whatever. A full service creative not unlike Harvey Keitel’s “wolf”. I just wish I was at more weird, 7am tuxedo parties in the Hollywood hills, but don’t we all?
We worked hands-on with a diverse range of clients that included NBCUniversal, FX, AMC, Al Jazeera, HBO, Nasdaq, Fuse, FOX, Digitas, FXX, SYFY, DirecTV, The Thompson Hotels, The FOOD Network, and ABC.
Duties included creative directing, script writing, pitching, and managing clients. I spent hours upon hours brainstorming with thinkers of all stripes. Occasionally I would design logos, make pitch frames, and hand draw storyboards. Once in a blue moon I’d direct live action. I was also the in-house music supervisor and remixer for countless projects. Most importantly I motivated talented people to do great work. I was also the resident obscure meme expert, fancy lad cocktail mixologist, and bad ass DJ.
As far as personal projects go, I shot a feature documentary film with co-director Ben Cruz about the hardcore punk scene in Cincinnati in the early ’80s. This came about as a result of my old punk band, Sluggo, reuniting for a 25th Anniversary show at the legendary Southgate House. Now I’m just trying to find the time to actually finish it. Some day…
LEROY + CLARKSON – MANAGING CREATIVE DIRECTOR – 2009-2015
Leroy & Clarkson is a boutique creative agency, brand shop, design studio, and production company. A tight-knit amalgam of designers, directors, editors, writers, and producers with the ability to execute anything they dream up, big or small. We transcended our motion graphics roots and evolved into a 360 soup-to-nuts creative consortium that indulged in brand strategy and positioning, brand identity systems (naming / logo / tagline / language systems), network identity and design systems, 360 TV / print / OOH / integrated digital advertising campaigns, branded content entertainment, and experiential content and design. So, yes, we kinda did it all.
Duties included creative directing, script writing, pitching, and managing clients. I spent hours upon hours brainstorming with thinkers of all stripes. Occasionally I would design logos, make pitch frames, and hand draw storyboards. Once in a blue moon I’d direct live action. I was the music supervisor and remixer for countless projects. Most importantly I motivated talented people to do great work. I was also the resident obscure meme expert, fancy lad cocktail mixologist, and bad ass DJ.
We won an Emmy Award in 2008 for a History Channel TV commercial I created with Kyle Baron Cohen while freelancing for L+C. That was pretty sweet.
Clients included NBCUniversal, FX, AMC, Al Jazeera America, HBO, CNN, Fuse, Nasdaq, FOX, Digitas, FXX, 120 Sports, SYFY, DirecTV, The Thompson Hotels, Scripps Networks, and ABC.
FREELANCE CREATIVE DIRECTOR 2006 – 2009
Freelance Creative Director about town, primarily at VH1, Stardust and Leroy + Clarkson. I won an Emmy Award for a History Channel commercial I co-wrote and creative directed with Kyle Baron Cohen. Worked extensively with VH1 on several of their tent pole award shows (The Hip Hop Honors, The Rock Honors, The Do Something Awards). Stardust clients included IBM, E-Trade, and AT&T.
EXPANSION TEAM – MUSIC PRODUCER 2004 – 2006
I was the less-musically talented half of a music production team. Alex Moulton and I created original music and remixes for both Clairol and Covergirl. This work aired in TV spots for several years.
EYEBALLNYC – ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR 2002 – 2006
Duties included conceptual development and design of any and all projects including TV commercials, live action shoots, network identities, music videos, industrial videos, logo design, directing commercials, sound design, and the occasional print material. I quite often art directed every single job in production. Duties also included hiring and mentoring of staff, daily administrative duties, maintaining a design library, writing press releases, and writing and developing original content. Clients included Best Buy, Charles Schwab, McDonald’s, Comedy Central, and Adult Swim.
FREELANCE DESIGNER / ART DIRECTOR 2001
Produced film trailer for the Rocafella/Miramax film “Paid In Full”. Duties included editing, script writing, music and sound design.
TOMMY BOY FILMS – CREATIVE DIRECTOR 2001 – 2002
Produced pilot episode and first season of KUNG FAUX, a half hour TV show in which we re-dubbed old Kung Fu movies with rappers (Mr. Len, Jean Grae, Prince Paul, Guru, etc). Once they sold the pilot, I art directed the production of the entire first season. I designed the look for the entire show, edited each 2 hour film down to a 20 minute episode, animated all graphics and special effects for the pilot, completed sound design, and scored all 6 episodes. When they wouldn’t break me off some points on the TV deal, I promptly broke out. The show is currently airing worldwide and available on DVD.
SHOOTING GALLERY – CREATIVE DIRECTOR 1999 – 2001
I was a Creative Director in their newly formed ad agency. Duties included branding, concept, design and animation of TV commercials, promotional materials (both internal and for corporate clients). Cutting film trailers. Writing copy for film trailers. Sound design. Logo design. Movie poster design. Writing taglines for films. Oversaw implementation of creative concepts across all media (TV, web, film). Rode the dot com wave until it crashed, big-time.
EYEBALLNYC – SENIOR DESIGNER & PARTNER 1996 – 2000
Over the course of four years, founder Limore Shur, Daniel Fries and myself transformed a fledgling industrial video production company (that had started in Limore’s apartment) into a world renowned design boutique that helped define the motion graphics industry that was coalescing in New York City at the time. We got our foot in the door by getting powerhouses like Pittard Sullivan and Lee Hunt to farm out work to us. Once we started competing against them on pitches, they stopped calling and we expanded into a bigger office in a building full of sweatshops in Chinatown. Most like-minded design boutiques soon followed. It was a thrilling time in the industry because the parameters had yet to be defined. Duties included conceptual development, design, and animation for TV commercials, network identities, and the occasional music video. Clients included Mos Def, A+E Networks, IFC, The Weather Channel, and Comedy Central.
NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART – EXHIBIT DESIGNER 1997
Worked with a diverse group of graphic designers and architects to concept and design the installation of an exhibit called Alt.Youth.Culture that showcased a wide variety of media made by and for creatively engaged, digitally savvy youth around the world – all of whom were just beginning to harness the power of this recent phenomenon called The Internet. Participants included artists like Shepard Fairey, Barry McGee and Aaron Rose, fanzine creators, skateboarders, video artists, multimedia artists, etc. It is now considered one of the first major art exhibits of its kind.
BAD ASS DJ – 1988 – present
I’ve been DJing for over 26 years. During my heyday, I played in just about every club in New York City, past and present. I had a relatively long running Hip Hop/Reggae party at Don Hills from 1995-2000. Held down residencies at Limelight, Life, Studio 54, Cheetah, Speeed, Bang The Party, and all manner of places from mega clubs to dive bars. I am Proficient (i.e. ready to battle chumps) in any of the following musical genres: hip hop, dancehall reggae, funk, soul, jazz, deep house, disco, rock, and afrobeat. I own about 15,000 vinyl records and I have built up a great network of music lovers around the world who rely on me for new tunes on a regular basis. These days I mostly only DJ at Burning Man, but I am still constantly consumed by new and old music, making dope mixes which can all be found in the DJ MIXES section of this site. Check it out, please.
ON THE GO MAGAZINE – CARTOONIST 1996 – 1997
Wrote and illustrated quarterly comic strip about being a Hip Hop DJ in New York City. Got a lot of death threats and battle challenges as a result. On The Go was a graffiti magazine founded by legendary writer and now acclaimed artist ESPO. The comics can be found in the BLOG section on this site.
CHUNG KING STUDIOS – ASSISTANT STUDIO ENGINEER 1993 – 1996
NYC’s Chung King Studios is considered “the Abbey Road of Hip Hop”, being the place where every Def Jam record was made back in the day, as well as countless other Hip Hop classics. Duties included: Assisting with recording sessions, music editing, maintaining equipment and inventory, hiring and mentoring an army of blunt-smoking interns, doing the owner’s dirty work, carrying large sums of cash, and hanging out with The Wu Tang Clan. I can tell you Old Dirty Bastard stories for days…
People find me quiet & intimidating until they get to know me, then they wonder why they ever thought that, because I’m actually quite pleasant and a real smart-ass (seriously).
TROUBLE MAKER AND TEENAGE IDEALIST
At age 13 I read Karl Marx and soon after joined the Communist party. Later that year I won a school-wide debate, the subject of which was Capitalism VS Communism. The debate culminated in the 8th grade of a small very preppy private school voting for Communism as their preferred socio-economic system. Shortly after that I was politely expelled. By age fourteen and a half, I quit the party to focus on being a punk rocker and general “bad element”.
I won an Emmy in 2009 for a TV commercial I did for The History Channel. We beat out CNN, CBS, NBC, CNBC, & PBS. In your face, Frontline!
I started my own punk fanzine at age 14, in which I reviewed punk rock shows and breakfast cereals. At its peak, I think I had a worldwide circulation of about 300. It was titled “Payson Briggs”, after a particularly odd kid in my middle school who was a friend of mine. He happened to also be the Head Master’s only son. His father threatened to sue me if I didn’t change the name. This is a Xerox fanzine published by a 14 year old we’re talking about here. Lacking very large coffers for my legal defense, I promptly changed the name to Poison Briggs, which the father interpreted as a death threat towards his son. Not making this up.
I funded my teenage drinking years by doing hand-lettering, signage, and painting murals for local businesses.
I have been in no less than three bands, both as a singer and as a DJ. This included a hardcore punk rock band (Sluggo), a gangsta rap group (Trigga Happy), and a Haitian Voodoo drum-circle (Vodu 155). I have performed in front of thousands of people and opened up for such music icons as the Dead Kennedys & Biggie Smalls. Sluggo reunited for a 25th Anniversary show in 2010 and we brought the fucking house down.
MENCKEN TORCH BEARER
I once convinced a stripper at NYC’s infamous, David Lynchian den of sin known as “Billy’s Topless” to do an interpretive striptease in honor of H.L. Mencken whilst holding a vinyl recording of one of his lectures that I had procured from a homeless man on 6th Avenue for $3 just moments before walking in to the bar. I paid her $30, and it was a stirring tribute befitting The Sage of Baltimore.
I once convinced a girl at a party that, as a young man, I had personally authored the story of “The Gingerbread Man”, and that my Mom had it published, making a small fortune for my family. We later made out under the kitchen table. I think I am equally proud and ashamed of this incident.
Donald Trump opened up for me at the Promax/BDA awards in 2004. His seminar preceded one that I participated in. I spoke on a panel of six artists, designers, and musicians about the influence of hip hop, punk rock and street culture in modern advertising. My area of expertise was Punk Rock and Hip Hop.
MIKE TYSON IS MY HOMEBOY
Years ago, I used to DJ a party on Sunday nights that Mike Tyson would regularly attend. That same year, I was DJing a party in South Beach for Stussy. The day of the gig, I ran in to Mike Tyson on the street. I cautiously approached him. He looked very weirded out, like he might hit me. I assured him I was not a stalker and that I was, in fact, just the DJ at the club he goes to all the time. He then relaxed and said in highest lilting voice “Oh shit. You a dope DJ, man. ”. I told him I was playing that night in South Beach and that he should come through. When I got to the club, they asked me for my guest list. I took a blank sheet of paper and wrote “DJ Julian”, and below that I wrote “guest: MIKE TYSON”. The doorman looked at me like I was an asshole. Later that evening, Mike showed up, and I got a year’s worth of props.