Turning 50 makes you think about things. What have I done with my life? Am I happy with what I’m doing now? What do I want to do in the future?
For the most part, I am happy with life. There were many years after my little brother died that I was in a constant, simmering depression and just kind of coasted along. But turning 50 and asking those questions helped me come out of it and kind of jump start things.
I’ve never had an all encompassing passion for anything other than perhaps feeling the need to be creative. People sometimes talk about that one thing that when they wake up every day they think, “I can’t wait to do that today!” For me it’s always been a little bit of passion for a lot of different things. Little things that make me say, “Whee!”
When it comes to what I do for a living, my own business, Valador Studios, and main brand, Whee! Design, has been the mainstay of my income for the last 10+ years. I bounce around from systems coding to web development to designing t-shirts to fine art projects. I’ve gone to school for both computer science and the fine arts (ceramics and sculpture). I’ve been the head of web development for various companies. For a little while, I worked in a fine arts foundry doing bronze casting, welding, and finishing.
I’ve performed in drag. I’ve been involved in community theater, both on and off stage, and I’ve always had an appreciation for good music, film, and television. And sometimes bad film and television! I’m a sci–fi/fantasy geek and I love some of those really bad ‘B’ movies from back in the day.
I’ve collected something most of my life, mostly geek related. Everything from comic books, to Funko Pops! and action figures, and most recently, LEGO. I’m always picking up shiny rocks, cool shells, and pretty leaves. I guess I can be something of a magpie in that regard. Lots of cool, interesting, little objects are always to be found around my house.
I’m a gay man. I’ve marched on Washington. I’ve been a part of LGBTQ advocacy groups and attempted, in my own small way, to help push us forward toward better understanding and acceptance. The LGBTQ community and being LGBTQ actually informs a lot of my work in one way or another.
I enjoy the process and the pieces. For me, the process is the interesting part. How does this work? What happens if I put this piece here? What if I code it like this? How do these colors mix together? I love watching videos or tutorials about how someone does something. How’d they make that cake? How’d they get that design effect? How’d they make that web site do that?
I love to watch other people and hear about how they approach their interests and passions. Am I living vicariously through them? Maybe a little, but I also learn a lot from them and take it back into my own life and apply it there. In the last few years, I’ve started attending comic and pop culture conventions and the amount of creativity there is amazing! I get to meet the people I see in the movies and TV shows I enjoy, and I get to have a wonderful conversation about what they do. I get to meet other artists and designers and see how they work. All of the collections of cool things are put together in a single room and it’s glorious!
I think a lot of who I am boils down to wanting to take a lot of little, interesting, cool, fun things and combining them into something bigger and cooler, and more interesting. Isn’t that the definition of creativity? I combine coding and graphic design to make web sites. I take cool paper and pretty colored pastels to make interesting drawings. I combine LED lights, wires, micro-controllers, and code to make an animated light up t-shirt. I build star ships and cities out of LEGO.
The trick is keeping all of these things in balance and manageable so I don’t go crazy or neglect the other interests in my life.
So this site, Whee! Studios, is the place where I’m going to collect, and display, and balance all the cool, interesting, little things I love. Things will be available to purchase. I’ll explain how I do some of the things I do. I’ll show off some of the cool things I’ve collected, interesting places I’ve been, and wonderful people I’ve met.
And you might even see something that will make YOU say “Whee!”