When the idea for writing an employee spotlight was brought up by the team, my first thought was, "This is going to be similar to Chunk confessing his entire life to the Fratelli family in The Goonies." I'm not going to tell you about cheating on my history test in the 3rd grade, but I will tell you about the journey that led me to a career working with some of the brightest and most creative people I've ever known.

Some of my oldest memories revolve around feeling a need to express myself through any creative medium I could imagine. When I was in the 1st grade (in my defense, I did say I wouldn't tell you about the 3rd grade), I rather enjoyed using crayons to illustrate primitive depictions of my classmates on the wall of the classroom. I got in trouble for sure, but that was one of my earliest forays into the art of storytelling through visual representation.

The eventual spark that lit a fire under me to pursue design as something more than a hobby occurred during my senior year of high school. One of the electives offered to me was a graphic arts course at the local trade school. Though it turned out to be more about running a printing press and less about art, there was still a small amount of design to be learned from the class.

I attended this class during an era of green terminal computers, floppy disks, and no internet. If something needed to be masked out of a photo, we had to cut it out with an X-ACTO knife. The software we used to design page layouts was simple in functionality and limited to black and white. Gradients were achieved through the creative use of halftones, and colors were limited to CMYK separations on antiquated presses.

However, that all changed one morning. I arrived at class a bit earlier than usual and found the instructor sitting at a desk, looking at what appeared to be a television. I approached the desk to inquire about what he was doing and discovered that he was using a Macintosh computer to manipulate a photo with an early version of Photoshop on a full-color monitor (with a whopping resolution of 800 by 600 pixels!)

My mind melted. Sitting there, on the desk in front of me, was a tool that would unlock my creativity, rendering any limitations to my imagination obsolete.

I began to consume design everywhere I went. I started to pay more attention to signs as we drove around town. I would watch commercials on television more intently. I examined magazine and newspaper layouts more closely. I began to look at typography as a form of art where I used to only see informative text.

I hadn't understood what branding and marketing were at the time, but I now realize that I was beginning to see a pattern emerging. What I was attracted to were the stories that were being told. I began to see how the designs presented to us as consumers through advertisements and media were carefully crafted to evoke a specific emotion or a feeling of belonging to something.

After many years of being a hobbyist designer and a few much-needed bits of encouragement from some of my peers, I decided it was time. I was driving a school bus part-time but knew I needed to travel a different path. I did some research to see if I could find some potential employment prospects.

I messaged what I believed to be the top three marketing agencies in town and offered them each a challenge. I dared all three of them to hire me. I put together a resume that more closely resembled a one-page advertisement than a curriculum vitae and emailed it to all three of those agencies. The owner of one of those agencies reached out to me.

His name was Dustin Storm.

Dustin responded and asked me to meet up and have a discussion. I met him and his business partner in their downtown office. I was nervous but very excited to meet them. They seemed to be interested in everything I had to offer, but they were a small company, and I wasn't sure if there was going to be a chance to join the team just yet.

Dustin must have sensed that I wasn't just blowing smoke and offered to let me put my money where my mouth was. He had been working on some voice-over work for a promotional piece they were going to put out. He asked me if I would be willing to put some motion graphics on top of it. I pounced on the opportunity. I spent the next few days cranking out what would become my first paid motion graphics project.

Soon, I was sitting at my desk in their office working on anything I could get my hands on. I craved the chance to prove myself and was always hoping the next project would present a new challenge for me to overcome.

One day a guy from a local casino came in with this idea for a project they wanted to use to promote an upcoming New Year's Eve event. He had this storyboard that depicted Marty McFly from Back to the Future arriving at the casino in his DeLorean, throwing down in a laser light show party, heading back to the DeLorean on his hoverboard, and eventually making his exit as the DeLorean lifted into the air, flying toward the camera as the video concluded.

What sounded like an impossible task became one of the most fun and entertaining experiences I have ever been a part of. The project required all hands on deck, and the collaboration and creative problem-solving that went into making it happen confirmed to me that I was a part of something special.

Since then, we have dropped cars onto storm shelters, filmed superheroes and supervillains joining forces to crash New Year's parties, brought ridable toy tanks to life, captured emotional reflections of rebuilding lives after a disaster, and so much more.

Every project I have worked on has provided me with an outlet for telling stories through a combination of audio, video, and graphics. But that is only one portion of the amazing collection of things I get to do every day at Storm Cloud.

Other stuff I get to do includes: collaborating on designing and developing brands and identities, designing and developing websites, creating trailer wraps for gameday trailers, and pretty much anything that involves moving pixels, setting typography, and writing code. It never gets old seeing something you have created out in the wild.

Whether it is seeing a billboard you designed, watching a commercial that you edited, or hearing someone talking about a website you designed, it is always exciting to see and hear the reactions you get from the work you put into something. It is equally as awesome to witness the victories and accomplishments of your coworkers.

One of the biggest takeaways from my experience working with such an amazing team of passionate, creative, and hardworking individuals (besides discovering how to use GIFs to make a point) is seeing what we can accomplish when we each contribute our skills and talents toward providing a solution to any problem we are presented with.

It's what we do. It's what we live for. Need a website? We’ve got you covered. Need help reaching a larger audience with your brand? We can do that. Have a problem that you are unsure there is a solution for? Give us a minute, and we will find a way to make it happen. We are a team of complementary experts within our respective fields, and when we come together to tackle something as a group, magic happens.

Candace and Dustin, along with the rest of the team at Storm Cloud Marketing, and all of the amazing clients we get to work with have allowed me so many opportunities to grow and learn over the last several years. I am so fortunate and grateful to have this team of rockstars to jam with every day, and I cannot wait for all of the new adventures and journeys awaiting us in the future!

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