Design Is My Livelihood
When I was a kid my parents always said, “If you love what you do for a living
you’ll never work a day in your life.”
To me, a child only concerned with Spider-Man, G.I. Joe and who would win if
they ever had to battle, that sounded wonderful. I was 12 when I had it all figured
out: I would leave the nest at 18, move to New York and take over the reigns of
As history proves, this did not happen.
Instead I went to high school, graduated, tried college a few times, watched a lot
of MTV and decided that I needed to be a musician. However, the one thing they
never tell you on Behind the Music is that the key to becoming a professional
musician is knowing how to play music. Alas, this knowledge did little to deter me
from packing up my car one January morning and making the 22-hour journey
from Clayton, North Carolina to Omaha…to be a rock god
I thought I had “made it,” but the reality of the situation was that I was poor, going nowhere, and my music was pretty bad. Luckily, when you’re in a band there are two things that are readily available: people to inflate your ego and design work that needs to be done. Having taken one full semester of college studying graphic design, this worked to my advantage. I made posters, t-shirts, and stickers and got my first real idea of what design could be for me. I was hooked.
At 23 I decided to go back to school. This time I actually put forth effort. I worked to become a decent designer. Slowly over time, music became the hobby and design became the life.
Seven years, three agencies, four bands and a bajillion ideas later, and I feel like I have finally figured out who I am and where I fit in “the scene.” I am a small business owner, I am a teacher and I am a family man. I have no intention of ever winning an award for my work, or becoming some influential designer that changes people’s lives. I just want to continue being who I am, designing thought-out, creative ideas for my clients and never working a day in my life.
Brad Stoneking graduated from Metropolitan Community College in 2006 with an Associates Degree in Graphic Design, and jumped directly into agency work. There he honed his skills in typography, layout design, critical thinking, account management and general agency speak. In 2012, Brad opened 83 Design Collective, a Branding and Design Company focusing on helping small businesses with their branding and marketing strategies. In addition to running his own agency, he is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Metropolitan Community College in the Graphics and Communications Department. He, his wife Kristal and their daughter Ava live in Omaha.