For those of you who didn't know, I recently moved from Washington DC to Brooklyn, NYC as a result of my company's office closure and consolidation to NYC and Knoxville, TN. The move was bittersweet, leaving a long-known familiar place for one that holds newness and adventure. As one would tend to do, this move made me look back on almost 15 years of living in DC, the longest period I've ever lived in one place outside of my childhood.
I came to DC a somewhat timid Midwest kid who was terrified of driving with the crazies on 495. DC is where I first held a real design job as an intern with the Federal Government. It's where I learned the ins and outs of doing freelance as a side gig. It's where I made the jump from a very very green, young designer into a more confident, seasoned (and much more grey) art director. It's where I came into my own, jumping from a designer that often imitated my heroes to a designer who found his own voice and confidence in expressing it. It's where I learned to love the life that I developed for myself, learning who I was and what I wanted out of myself, my friends and loved ones, my work, my health.
DC provided me with a wealth of friends and acquaintances who all influenced my growth in ways I can never repay. My sensibilities, thought process and appreciation for aesthetics were all honed and chiseled through lots of critiques at work and late night drinks and conversations. Living in a vibrant city constantly inspired and surprised me, whether it be an interesting person on the way to the Metro or stumbling into a beautiful side street on Swann.
It's with a bit of sadness that I leave at this time. The city is on a real upswing creatively, as you can witness by the plethora of new and interesting restaurants/coffee shops springing up all over the city, like Songbyrd, Rose's Luxury, Union Market and Maketto. Print shops and creative popups are moving in alongside iconic DC institutions like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat. New murals are springing up all over, beautifying the streets and alleys. I could go on and on.
The creative community seems to be surging with a huge influx of new collective passion. I have no doubt the talent has always been there (AIGA, American Advertising Federation and Art Director's Club have always been community anchors), but as I've noted for years, city pride is in the air, unlike anything I ever saw in the early '00s. Part of it may be that its just more visible now, and it's being fed by a grassroots uprising. #ACreativeDC and #MadeInDC are inspiring people to share their work on social media, and its amazing to see what everyday people are doing creatively, whether it be a crafting hobby, a piece of graffiti, a beautiful meal or a photography project. Design Intercourse is a fascinating new podcast that hosts frank discussions with DC creatives on a wide variety of subjects, opening an eye into other's creative process in a way that hasn't yet been done in the District. I'm not even scratching the surface, but that's a start.
And so while I'm sad to have left the city that I've loved for so long, I take a lot of comfort in the fact that there are so many creatives continuing their journey there, continuing to press boundaries and try new things. I'm fortunate to move to another city that is absolutely overflowing with creative inspiration, but DC will always hold a special place in my heart.