david-dang-bio

A “typical” day for me is actually not so typical.

Some days, I work on clean and professional projects for large corporations and non-profits; other days, I’m staying busy with fun, creative and edgy designs for local businesses.

Some days, I photograph weddings and family portraits. Other days, I take pictures of food and pretty models in underwear (maybe not in that order.) Each day is a new adventure, but this wasn’t always how I envisioned it would be.

Originally though, the plan was be a doctor. Why did I want to be a doctor?

To help people?

To contribute to the advancement of modern medicine?

To leave behind some kind of positive impact on society?

Nah.

I wanted the prestige, respect, money and stability that came with the degree. More importantly though, I wanted to be able to walk into a bar wearing my medical school ID and have women throw themselves at me. I never admitted it at the time, but my reasons were far from noble.

Regardless, all was going according to plan.

By 2009, I had received my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from the University of Virginia, taken the MCAT and was conducting cancer research to finish my Masters at Virginia Commonwealth University.

I was full of determination and worked hard toward my goals of becoming the next Dr. McDreamy from “Grey’s Anatomy.” However, somewhere along the way, the plan … changed. Arguably, for the better.

Upon graduating, I found myself at a fork in the road. With six years invested in scientific academia and a mountain of debt staring me in the face, would I continue down this path and invest another four to eight years into becoming a doctor? Or would I branch off with my degree and become a dentist, pharmacist, or medical researcher? Either path I chose to take would be a huge commitment, and all the grandeur visions that originally got me into the health sciences were starting to fade.

As I contemplated my two logical, but boring paths, I started thinking about how my dream was always to do something creative- to be a designer, movie director, or photographer. Somehow, spending long hours touching old smelly people, cleaning teeth that were on the verge of decay, or arguing with angry customers about their health insurance didn’t match up to those dreams. (lol no offense, I’m obviously downplaying the significance of health professionals, but you get the point.)

After a period of feeling lost, two words came into my mind that opened up a whole new path.

“Why not?”

Why not try to do something creative? I already had my degrees as a safety net, and I had proven my education to my family. So, why not try?

If I try and fail, it would be better than if I took my dreams with me to the grave and wondered, “What if?”

I decided to look into it. I put my degrees and med school applications behind me, looked at the fork in the road, and created my own, unbeaten path.

Being creative in today’s business environment can spell disaster. At the least, it conjures images of the stereotypical “starving artist,” doing what he loves while subsisting on Ramen and selling plasma for extra pocket change. It’s not the line of work that carries with it the financial rewards or the eyelash-fluttering, doe-eyed women.

To get a sense of what awaited me professionally, I scouted my competition. I turned to the trusted institute of the 21st century: Craigslist. I posted as a made-up company seeking a Web designer. From the flurry of applicants and portfolios, I discovered all of these designers fit into one of two categories:

1. They were terrible.
2. They were terrible and from a Third-World Country.

Only a small handful were decent (and local), and I felt confident enough to swim with the other fish in the pond.

Life as a professional creative thus began. I started building up my portfolio, bit by bit. The first projects were humble gigs with small restaurants that paid a few hundred bucks. Not something to write home about, but it was something. I taught myself everything I needed to know to craft myself into a hot commodity. I learned how to code, how to design, how to Photoshop, how to brand and market myself, how to manage a business, and how to find and talk to clients.

After a few years freelancing, things were looking good. My designs were now worth 10x what I was originally charging and I felt great about what I was doing. In search for more stability, I eventually landed the enviable position of Creative Director at a marketing agency. Here, I worked on several campaigns and designs for major non-profits with the creature comforts of a stable salary and health insurance.

On paper, everything seemed perfect. I had a great job, a prestigious title, an awesome boss, amazing benefits, and a stable, comfortable lifestyle. There was no way I could abandon this for something as silly as a “passion”… right?

Wrong.

My creative spirit was hungry — no, it was starving like someone freshly off a juice cleanse — for growth. I became bored of the clean-cut 9-to-5 agency life. I didn’t want to fret about whether 14-point Arial font was large enough for your grandmother to see or whether everything was compatible with an (even more) outdated version of Internet Explorer.

Once again, I shut out logic. I discarded comfort and stability for personal growth and adventure. I returned to the freelance life and continued honing my skills as a designer and more recently, a photographer.

This brings me to where I am today. My experiences have helped me develop a sense of myself as a creative that others lack. What makes me unique is that my talents bridge cold hard logic and fearless creative knowhow.

In other words, I don’t just create pretty things: That’s what artists do. I create pretty things that are strategically crafted to help you meet your organizational goals, whether it’s to get more donations, gain more leads, or sell a product.

Enough about me, though. Let’s talk about you and how we can bring your vision to life!

So: Want to grab a cup of coffee?