The short version comprises of dance music, a British design studio, and Adobe Photoshop.
Here's the long version...
In high-school (1999-2003) there was a sound that captivated me and it was called Dance Music. And it was fun and unmistakably different. Dance Music was already in the US, but it was not mainstream because information travelled "slowly" back then and the audience was still growing.
To be clear, Dance Music was just the collective name — there was trance, progressive trance, house, etc... You have to remember that society was very different back then; Google and Youtube didn't exist in the 90s. And If you were born near the new millennium, you most likely don't recall floppy disks.
At the end of the 1990's, AOL and AIM were the most popular internet platforms used and everyone connected to the internet using a Dial-Up modem connection — the method was slow and you couldn't use your phone line simultaneously while surfing the web — it took years before faster connections arrived. To be fair, there were some websites available, but nothing like today; the internet and its graphical interface was still "primitive."
Throughout high-school (mostly freshman and sophomore years) I saw flyers around school promoting parties and I became more enamored with electronic music; I bought CDs at the mall, too. Of all the CDs I bought, Gatecrasher caught my attention the most; the albums gave listeners a definitive "sound" that featured notable artists and remixes under the iconic royal lion emblem. (More on this below!)
Thanks to the internet I was able to listen to BBC Radio 1 and the wildly popular Essential Mix which broadcasted mixes from trendsetting DJs and venues — you cannot have BBC Radio 1 without the iconic voices of Pete Tong, Judge Jules, or Annie Mac.
The biggest open secret with music and other media in the early 2000s was that many people were downloading songs for free using programs like Napster or Limewire: There was a huge case against Napster and many artists were upset about their songs being shared. In short, that time period was the wild west of music sharing prior to online streaming, but neither topic will be discussed here.
My senior year of high school I joined the school newspaper club and was introduced to Adobe Photoshop. I loved Photoshop so much that one classmate signed my yearbook addressing me, "Mr. Photoshop." It was a nice and fun title!
In college, I became more experienced with Adobe Photoshop by recreating flyers I found online made by The Designer's Republic. Remember those dance music CDs and BBC Radio 1 streams from Gatecrasher? Well, while inspecting one of the CDs I discovered the branding company responsible for doing the artwork! They were from the UK and had an impressive portfolio. And thankfully they had a website!
The internet was resourceful for me in college because information was more abundant throughout 2003 - 2009; people were starting to share their ideas and passions online which quickly snowballed and brought forth the social media age.
Thanks to the internet I was constantly tinkering with Photoshop tutorials. I have never been formally trained in Photoshop or Illustrator for that matter; I have learned everything through tutorials or real world experience. Enthusiasm, curiosity, and trial/error have always been the winds pushing my sails.
Also, we cannot grow without the input from other; there's always another way to do something.
I was so inspired with The Designer's Republic's artwork that I designed one of my first websites with a similar type of layout and colorful theme; their graphics for Gatecrasher were fresh, fun and colorful and I wanted to incorporate their style into my work.
Having said all this, it is a bit odd I didn't study graphic design and instead pursued architecture. In part, this was because I started to learn about 3D modeling and that desire morphed into architecture and before I knew it I had a new love. I was very passionate about architecture and completed my Bachelor's degree in 2009.
I always excelled in presentation design and other graphic design related tasks throughout college and work. As of this writing, I am not directly in the architectural world, but since graduation I have put important college skills to use in retail and custom cabinetry. Whenever I am creating layouts, I am thinking about a lot of things, but whenever I need inspiration I always return to The Designers Republic. And why? Their artwork really evokes something — it's got attitude. From Gatecrasher to Coca-Cola graphics; they have total command of every design element in existence! They are a fountain of endless inspiration.
Thank you for reading!