This is a story...
I majored in Communication Design from the University at Buffalo and graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. Since graduating, I have been privileged to work closely with the local music community and area nonprofits. I approach my work with a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) attitude of pursuing my dreams just out of the sheer passion for design. I’m a punk rock-loving, openly-queer man who lives life with a fiery determination. Below is just a small taste of who I am.
Unlike my fellow peers, my growth as a person and graphic designer hasn’t come from professional experience but from circumstances I have had to endure. Determination has played a key role in my development as early as March 2008, before I transferred to my alma mater, when I was forced into homelessness after leaving an abusive home environment. Being homeless lasted a total of seven years. While my classmates were focused on fully taking in the art school experience and polishing their design skills, I instead was overcome with instability in my life and held on tight to a goal of just doing what I could to graduate. Nonetheless, I persisted and earned my degree, ready to begin my future with a fresh start. Unfortunately, life had other plans and I was still without a permanent address--often couch-surfing with friends and living out of my car. My classmates went on to land positions with agencies or in-house design departments while I had to deal with surviving day-to-day without even making ends meet.
In early 2013 I was asked to design flyers for basement punk concerts by one of my best friends and soon enough was introduced and assimilated into the local punk community. What started out as hand-drawn flyers and handbill gigs quickly evolved into designing T-shirts, album art, other merchandise, and even branding. This group became a new family to me, offering unconditional support and genuine appreciation for my work. They followed the ethos presented with DIY culture of pursuing your passions without using a monetary value to measure success. I learned to be very resourceful both with my designing and in my life; without any formal training or professional guidance I was left with facing challenges head-on without any safety net. From absolutely nothing to my name I was able to create the portfolio you see on these pages.
I am extremely proud of the work presented before you. What I lack in corporate experience I more than make up in my determination, resourcefulness, and passion. My aesthetic blends illustration and digital components with the rules of traditional graphic design. My methods may be unconventional to others, but my uniqueness makes me stand out from my fellow peers in the design community. Today I’m focusing my energies into further building my portfolio and trying to get my small business--Local Punk--off the ground and successful. I don’t see my life as a series of struggles, but rather as building blocks to help me grow stronger. If you like my work then feel free to follow my Instagram account--@GrandTheftArdo.
A wise man once said... eh, just follow your heart.