BL&T No. 129: My Time at Tyler School of Art


This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.


"As we look back and survey the terrain to determine where we’ve been and where we are in relationship to where we’re going, we clearly see that we could not have gotten where we are without coming the way we came."

From "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey [Book]


My wife Dana and I had a great time at the Temple University Tyler School of Art alumni event at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC about a week ago. I've since been reflecting on my time at Tyler and how the school has a special place in our hearts. I thought I'd take a moment to capture it in writing.

Photo with our professor, Paul Sheriff, at MomA.

In my teens, I spent most of my time designing promotional materials for my music (CDs, posters, websites, MySpace themes, etc.). My neighbor, Renee, was the first to show me what a vector was and what I was doing was a career. She is a Tyler alum, so I looked into the school, and that's where I applied. There and only there. (Sorry for the worry, parents!)

My first album released in 2005 and first live performance via YouTube.

Thanks to our Dean at the time, Carmina Cianciulli, for a memorable interview and a warm welcome to the school. When I applied to Tyler, I planned to major in Graphic and Interactive Design (GAID) with my teaching certification to teach high school art. I'll never forget Carmina's vote of confidence after seeing my portfolio — "A lot of kids come to Tyler thinking they want to be a designer, but few go into the major. I can tell you'll be a designer." She was right. I fell in love with design, decided not to pursue teaching, and never looked back.

Throughout my time at Tyler, I enjoyed getting involved in different aspects of the school, designing and writing for the music section of The Temple News, working in the admissions office alongside a great team, Melissa, Tamsen, and Grace, and giving tours to prospective students. I enjoyed seeing many of these kids become students, seeking me out to say hello in their first weeks at school.

As a Junior, I had an opportunity to begin a Teaching Assistant program within the GAID program. I figured this was an exciting opportunity to pursue teaching without a degree. I became long-time professor Paul Sheriff's TA and learned so much from him. In my first class with Paul, I met my future wife, Dana. I dodged her Facebook request until the end of the semester, and as they say, the rest was history.

Related: BL&T No. 086.

An image from our wedding website showing both Dana's and my graduations.

We've loved having Tyler be a part of our story and staying connected with a unique network of people. I fondly remember being invited back to Tyler to judge a student project with Dana, fittingly centered around Valentine's Day, several years ago. I'm grateful for my former professor (and Tyler alum), Abby Guido, who was always there for support, introducing me to folks like Joe Spix (Creative Director at Republic Records) when I moved to NYC. Abby also hired me as an intern pre-graduation. I've loved keeping in touch over the years. She's done so much to contribute to and grow the Tyler community. In 2020, I had the pleasure of leading a discussion with her MFA students.

A fun part about going to art school is joining a group of creative individuals who go on to do exciting things. About a year ago, I was at an investor event at Victory Brewing's new tasting room when I met the co-founder, Bill Covaleski. It turns out he's a Tyler alum. It was fun sharing stories about our time there. One of the first gifts I bought Dana was a series of classic novels designed by Tyler alum Jessica Hische. We've since purchased her children's book Brave (we can't wait to read to our kid someday) and a mirrored typographic piece that now hangs on the wall of our home.

Books and mirror design by Tyler alum, Jessica Hische.

When I decided to propose to Dana, I couldn't find a ring that I loved. I remembered that a fellow student, Emily Phillippy, had studied jewelry and continued pursuing it after graduation. I decided to shoot her an email. I ended up designing the ring with Emily over several weeks via email. She lived in LA. I lived in NYC. We never spoke on the phone, designing the ring via CAD mockups and sketches. (It couldn't be more perfect.) I later got to design my ring with Emily. Emily has gone on to grow her business, Emily Chelsea Jewelry, with an incredible location in Philadelphia.

Early ring CAD mockup and final ring photograph.

When we got married, a good friend of mine, Alexis Tuner, who I met in my ceramics class at Tyler, worked with us on all our wedding decorations and flowers through her events design business, Poco Pink Creative. Dana and I had fun designing all the materials, and Alexis knew how to bring to life and enhance our vision for the decor.

Wedding design system by Dana and I along with a taste of our wedding decor.

I could go on to list all of the inspiring folks I've met through Tyler, like long-time Barrel designer, Isaac. It's been a pleasure working with him for the last several years. I'll never forget hiring him and talking to my former professors as references.

I remember being excited to begin my journey at Tyler but never thought it would have such an impact on my life. It's been nice to sit down and reflect on our journey. I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes us next.

Thought Starter

What aspects of my journey am I most grateful for shaping where I am today?


The E-Commerce Corner

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be launching natively through Shopify's Google channel app next month. The release will make it allow merchants to leverage GA4's enhanced real-time, multi-channel, and privacy-compliant tracking with ease. To prepare for this update, merchants can create a GA4 property in GA dashboard, install the Google app, and ensure their GA4 property is correctly linked to their Google Ads account.

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