For the last week, every time I go to the Gazette’s home page on my phone, I have seen the headline that says something like “Important People Colorado Springs Lost in 2016.”
I haven’t clicked on this post. After all, Adam isn’t on this list. But for me, he is the most important person that should be on this list. Of course, I get that he’s not on the list, but I get irritated just the same.
Many of you know how talented he was as a graphic designer. Maybe you hired him. You can see a lot of his work on his website, which is still live: gasgiantdesign.com. For the last three years, his top priority was updating this site, but he never got around to it.
Adam and I met because of graphic design. He worked at Gowdy Printcraft in town as a prepress operator with his friend Steve. He would do these wild designs for some of our Air Force Academy posters, and the guys and I would laugh and say “what was he smokin’?” Of course, I loved them because they were absolutely out of the norm for the academy.
When I left Air Force for U.S. Figure Skating, I brought Gowdy with me, and he worked magic on media guide covers. Eventually, it became clear to my co-workers that I was always “volunteering” to drop stuff off at Gowdy’s. I remember Dave distinctly pushing his chair back in his cubicle to look at me and say “Does this guy know you’re stalking him?”
When we started dating, I was probably one of the only people ever to religiously sign the conflict of interest form at figure skating every year. Adam moved on to work for a web design company and helped design an early version of the U.S. Figure Skating website. Later, when he decided to freelance, Amy Partain hired him to design SKATING magazine. Amy and I both loved his clean, white-space design. He won a Colorado Springs ADDY Award for his Marshall’s SkateFest poster, designed the logo for the Four Continents Championships, and created some beautiful layouts in the magazine.
He left freelancing to be the graphic designer at the USOC. In many ways, I look at the USOC job as the pivotal moment in his life. He loved the job, loved the people he worked with, and getting the chance to be in Beijing for 2008 and designing USA House was truly his proudest moment in life (after marrying me, right?).
But working for the USOC also had a dark side for him (doesn’t Olympic land have a dark side for all of us who have worked there?). He was hired by a guy who wanted Adam’s type of creativity and style, but I think his boss left in less than a year to take a major job overseas. His next boss was a “sweater vest” guy, and I don’t think he and Adam (and then a subsequent boss) ever clicked. For the first time in our life together, Adam developed sometimes debilitating anxiety from that job. He loved it; he hated it. And when he was part of the massive USOC layoffs in 2009, he was devastated, and his confidence was shattered.
Over the next eight years of his life, he ran Gas Giant Design and also taught at Pikes Peak Community College. He was overwhelmed with his first teaching job … unprepared and frazzled. But he was a natural teacher and grew to love working with students.
Side note: The original name of his company was Designature Graphics. He changed it to Gas Giant Design in honor of my dad, the “rocket scientist at JPL.” Adam learned a lot from my dad and grew to love the spacecrafts Dad worked on, learning all about them. So Gas Giant Design was sort of named after the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini crafts, but I always teased him that people would think his company name was about farts. He would just smirk at me with the look that said “maybe I named it after you.” True love that is.
Adam was my go-to design and computer expert. U.S. Figure Skating and FVS benefited from his expertise, often getting hours of free design work and problem solving. He wanted to help me when he could. He’s the one who found the answer to compress the photos on the fvs.edu homepage so they loaded quickly; he built most of the banners on the site.
His last project was for FVS. I am proud to say he is the one who put together two of the “All In” videos last year. Sure, our office had the idea and did the filming, but he spent hours lightening and adjusting the videos, editing sound, working with music and graphics. These videos were a huge success, and he was a big part of it.
Adam’s designs have been seen in athletic venues across the country (and the world if you count China!), he has helped bring in Annual Fund dollars for FVS … a school he loved because I loved it. If you follow U.S. Olympic sports, you probably have seen his designs in your lifetime, and you didn’t even know it. You might have the team pin or memory book he designed. He created Sky Sox media guides, worked on the military papers, and so much more.
I’m not sure he ever had the confidence in his abilities that he should have had. He was amazing. His Photoshop and Illustrator skills were second to none, and I have never, ever worked with a graphic designer with more attention to detail. He could mask anything!
He is a great loss to the Colorado Springs community. He had so much more to give.