When I eventually chatted with David and asked him about his experience at Carnegie Mellon University, I was met with laughter and an explanation that there are in fact two David Ewalds living in Portland working in the ad industry. Apparently I wasn't the first person to get them confused, there was even an Ignite Portland presentation given by the author, humorist and musician, Hugh Gallagher, entitled Night of Dave Ewalds:
With that said, I spoke with Dave Ewald number 1 (aka: Uncorked Dave).
My new goal: Talk to David Ewald #2. If anyone knows this David Ewald and can help me get in touch with him for a possible chat for my blog, I'll buy you lunch and/or send you a thank you card!
He began at a small Minneapolis firm with a name I love: Ham in the Fridge, on their Target account (though he truly got his start designing for his high school yearbook). During his time there he designed the Target History Museum. What? First of all, I had no idea that was even a thing. Who's visiting this museum? According to Dave, it's actually very cool and contains amazing relics of products that Target carried during its beginnings in 1902 under the name Dayton Dry Goods Company. The architecture company that Target had originally hired wasn't quite bringing the 'wow factor' to the table. After reviewing the digital websites Ham in the Fridge built, and how smoothly the sites flowed and their easy navigation, they had to hire the design firm. Dave ended up heading the project and loved designing a real interactive space.
Eventually, after landing in Portland, he started his own music label; Motorcoat which was successful for a small time among his musician friends. The experience allowed him to blend his loves of music and design.
"It was the dumbest financial move and the greatest life move." -Dave
So far, his life seems amazingly fun and completely random, which only made him more interesting to talk with.
To break up all this writing, might I share my two favorite photos that Dave has tweeted (accompanied by his Twitter comments):
"Lady walking her cat through airport on leash. I think this could be the start of an interesting week."
"Another reminder of why I should always carry a real camera with me. Pure class."
Okay, now we can carry on.
It only get more random from here: David was also an intern for the cooperate offices of Regis Hair Salon, where he created Flash animations (one of his favorite things to do) for the giant TV monitors that lived in the display windows of the salons. What a bazaar thing to have on a resume (especially for someone who eventually spent time within the walls of Wieden and Kennedy).
Eventually, he landed at Nemo in Portland and then spent a short time at Wieden where he worked as a Senior Digital Designer on the Nike Golf account. He was able to practice one of his favorite hobbies, photography, on the set of a Nike Golf shoot featuring Tiger Woods. (He told me Tiger was very nice.) He initially took the photos for his own enjoyment, but once they landed in the hands of the producer and director, a few of his shots landed in the final campaign spread.
These are some of my favorites (the rest can be found on his site):
Though he loves photography, and is clearly talented, he told me that it is too competitive of a career for him. Of being on the set, he explained that, "If you look like you belong there, then you belong there." He wasn't initially supposed to be on set, but he decided that it would be best for the designer to be present (and he is probably right).
"I don't have the gift of people liking," he said, but he does have the ability to pop in and out of places that he wants without being noticed while simultaneously looking likes he belongs there.
His advice: "Adapt to whatever tools are in place. Things change and if you're not willing to change too, you won't go far." + "If you plan everything and you're not willing to adapt, then you won't go far." Very true. We millennials would know that better than anyone.
His fear: Technology is moving so fast that once you've learned it, it's no longer relevant.
Thanks David Ewald #1!